Pickles are repeatedly mentioned in Midnight’s Children, and while they are often viewed as a phallic symbol, they are generally representative of the power of preservation within Rushdie’s novel. Saleem is the manager of a pickle factory, and he preserves pickles and chutneys each day. He also attempts to preserve his own life story like the pickles in his factory. Saleem largely manages to preserve his life through storytelling, offering a bit of immortality to a dying man, and he also labels and stores each chapter he writes in a pickle jar, so that they may be read later, by his son for example. This connection between pickles and the preservation of stories endures until the very end of the book, when Saleem ceremoniously labels his very last pickle jar as a way of closing out his story and his life as a whole.
Pickles Quotes in Midnight’s Children
And while chutney—the same chutney which, back in 1957, my ayah Mary Pereira has made so perfectly; the grasshopper-green chutney which is forever associated with those days—carried them back into the world of my past, while chutney mellowed them and made them receptive, I spoke to them, gently, persuasively, and by a mixture of condiment and oratory kept myself out of the hands of the pernicious green-medicine men. I said: “My son will understand. As much as for any living being, I’m telling my story for him, so that afterwards, when I’ve lost my struggle against the cracks, he will know. Morality, judgement, character…it all starts with memory…and I am keeping carbons.”
What my aunt Alia took pleasure in: cooking. What she had, during the lonely madness of the years, raised to the level of an art-form: the impregnation of food with emotions. To whom she remained second in her achievements in this field: my old ayah, Mary Pereira. By whom, today, both old cooks have been outdone: Saleem Sinai, pickler-in-chief at the Braganza pickle works…nevertheless, while we lived in her Guru Mandir mansion, she fed us the birianis of dissension and the nargisi koftas of discord; and little by little, even the harmonies of my parents’ autumnal love went out of tune.