Midnight’s Children

Midnight’s Children

by

Salman Rushdie

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Noses Symbol Icon

Saleem Sinai’s large, bulbous nose is a symbol of his power as the leader of the Midnight Children’s Conference, which is comprised of all children born on the moment of India’s independence from British rule. His nose makes his power of telepathy possible, and this is how he communicates with the other children of midnight (who all have varied powers of their own). Saleem inherits his rather large, and perpetually congested, nose from his grandfather, Aadam Aziz, who also uses his nose to sniff out trouble. Saleem’s nasal powers begin after an accident in his mother’s washing-chest, in which he sniffs a rogue pajama string up his nose, resulting in a deafening sneeze and the instant arrival of the voices in his head. Saleem’s power of telepathy remains until a sinus surgery clears out his nose “goo.” After his surgery, Saleem is unable to further commune with the other children. Ironically, after Saleem’s nasal congestion is gone, he gains the ability to smell emotions, and he spends much time categorizing all the smells he frequently encounters.

Noses Quotes in Midnight’s Children

The Midnight’s Children quotes below all refer to the symbol of Noses. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Truth and Storytelling Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Penguin edition of Midnight’s Children published in 1980.
Book 1: The Perforated Sheet Quotes

One Kashmiri morning in the early spring of 1915, my grandfather Aadam Aziz hit his nose against a frost-hardened tussock of earth while attempting to pray. Three drops of blood plopped out of his left nostril, hardened instantly in the brittle air and lay before his eyes on the prayer-mat, transformed into rubies. Lurching back until he knelt with his head once more upright, he found that the tears which had sprung to his eyes has solidified, too; and at that moment, as he brushed diamonds contemptuously from his lashes, he resolved never again to kiss earth for any god or man.

Related Characters: Saleem Sinai (speaker), Aadam Aziz
Related Symbols: Noses
Page Number: 4
Explanation and Analysis:
Book 1: Tick, Tock Quotes

And when she was alone—two babies in her hands—two lives in her power—she did it for Joseph, her own private revolutionary act, thinking He will certainly love me for this, as she changed name-tags on the two huge infants, giving the poor baby a life of privilege and condemning the rich-born child to accordions and poverty…“Love me, Joseph!” was in Mary Pereira’s mind, and then it was done. On the ankle of a ten-chip whopper with eyes as blue as Kashmiri sky—which were also as blue as Methwold’s—and a nose as dramatic as a Kashmiri grandfather’s—which was also the nose of grandmother from France—she placed this name: Sinai.

Related Characters: Saleem Sinai (speaker), Shiva, Mary Pereira, Alice Pereira, Joseph D’Costa
Related Symbols: Noses
Page Number: 130
Explanation and Analysis:
Get the entire Midnight’s Children LitChart as a printable PDF.
Midnight’s Children PDF

Noses Symbol Timeline in Midnight’s Children

The timeline below shows where the symbol Noses appears in Midnight’s Children. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Book 1: The Perforated Sheet
Identity and Nationality Theme Icon
Fragments and Partitioning Theme Icon
Religion Theme Icon
...back to Kashmir, 1915. His grandfather, Aadam Aziz, kneels to pray, and after striking his nose on the ground, three drops of blood fall onto his prayer-mat. The cold air transforms... (full context)
British Colonialism and Postcolonialism Theme Icon
...is no military presence and few Englishmen. As Aadam looks around the Kashmiri valley, his nose begins to itch. (full context)
Sex and Gender Theme Icon
...of birds. Saleem gives a physical description of Aadam, who notably has a large bulbous nose, which “established incontrovertibly his right to be a patriarch.” (full context)
Truth and Storytelling Theme Icon
...avoid snakes, and where the English women go to drown. Tai also taught Aadam about noses, “the place where the outside world meets the inside you,” instructing him to always trust... (full context)
British Colonialism and Postcolonialism Theme Icon
...responds, “I knew it. You will use such a machine now, instead of your own nose.” (full context)
Sex and Gender Theme Icon
...realizes that Mr. Ghani, a widower, is blind and this makes him increasingly uncomfortable. Aadam’s nose begins to itch, and he considers running away, but a large, muscular woman appears and... (full context)
Book 1: Mercurochrome
Fragments and Partitioning Theme Icon
...and his love for Naseem begins to fill the hole created when he hit his nose on the prayer-mat. (full context)
British Colonialism and Postcolonialism Theme Icon
...on Naseem’s face, his “fall is complete.” Naseem comments only on the size of Aadam’s nose, and Mr. Ghani smiles, pleased with himself. (full context)
British Colonialism and Postcolonialism Theme Icon
Identity and Nationality Theme Icon
...cry from the quiet Kashmiri village, and Naseem is having a difficult time adjusting. Aadam’s nose begins to itch, and he senses something is wrong. (full context)
British Colonialism and Postcolonialism Theme Icon
Identity and Nationality Theme Icon
...in case more people need his help. He happens upon a peaceful protest, and his nose begins to itch. Brigadier R. E. Dyer arrives at the protest accompanied by fifty troops,... (full context)
Book 1: Under the Carpet
Identity and Nationality Theme Icon
Fragments and Partitioning Theme Icon
Religion Theme Icon
...the Hummingbird’s death certificate, and when he is through he is compelled to blow his nose. The Convocation is broken and Rani falls ill, taking to her bed. The Muslim League... (full context)
Book 1: Many-headed Monsters
Identity and Nationality Theme Icon
...two mothers only to die “before he is dead.” He tells her there will be noses and knees and suddenly, Ramram falls to the floor and begins to foam at the... (full context)
Book 2: The Fisherman’s Pointing Finger
Truth and Storytelling Theme Icon
British Colonialism and Postcolonialism Theme Icon
Identity and Nationality Theme Icon
...his mother and wet-nurse of milk, and like Aadam Aziz, he has a large, bulbous nose (which constantly drips “goo”). His skin is fair and birthmarks cover his face. Strangely, Saleem... (full context)
Book 2: Accident in a Washing-chest
Identity and Nationality Theme Icon
...Ibrahim, Cyrus Dubash, and Eyeslice and Hairoil Sabarmati. Saleem’s friends lovingly refer to him as “Snotnose,” on account of the copious amounts of snot that drips from his humongous and forever-congested... (full context)
Sex and Gender Theme Icon
...bathroom. Frozen in the washing-chest and fearing discovery, a rogue pajama-cord begins to tickle Saleem’s nose. (full context)
Sex and Gender Theme Icon
...the washing-chest. Just then, an unavoidable “sniff” sends the pajama cord up into Saleem’s substantial nose. Immediately, pain consumes Saleem’s head and a deafening sneeze gives away his treasured hiding spot. (full context)
Book 2: Revelations
Sex and Gender Theme Icon
...of melodrama.”  Suddenly, the dust that has settled over the estate begins to tickle her nose and she sneezes, causing her eyes to water. The sneeze opens a flood-gate, and Pia... (full context)
Book 2: Drainage and the Desert
Identity and Nationality Theme Icon
Fragments and Partitioning Theme Icon
...show Saleem affection again, and they are a happy family for the first time. Saleem’s nasal congestion worsens, locking up completely, nearly suffocating him. (full context)
Identity and Nationality Theme Icon
Fragments and Partitioning Theme Icon
...Jamila Singer; however, they never make their picnic. Instead, they take Saleem to an ear, nose, and throat clinic to have his nasal passages surgically cleared. (full context)
Book 2: Jamila Singer
Sex and Gender Theme Icon
Living in Karachi in his aunt Alia’s home, Saleem’s clear nose and sinuses are now able to smell emotions. He smells Alia’s hypocrisy and jealousy, despite... (full context)
Book 3: The Buddha
Identity and Nationality Theme Icon
...know little about him, only that he’s from an important family, has a highly susceptible nose, and is the brother of famed songbird, Jamila Singer. The three soldiers quickly nickname Saleem... (full context)
Book 3: Midnight
Identity and Nationality Theme Icon
Saleem’s nose smells trouble, and soon the Constitution is altered to give Indira Gandhi absolute power over... (full context)