Midnight’s Children

Midnight’s Children

by

Salman Rushdie

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Spittoons Symbol Analysis

Spittoons Symbol Icon

In Midnight’s Children, spittoons initially represent Old India but grow to also symbolize Saleem’s identity, which is intimately linked to his country given that he is one of the children of midnight. Rani gives Mumtaz and Nadir a silver spittoon when they are married, and they frequently play hit-the-spittoon, an old-fashioned game in which they try to spit tobacco juice into a spittoon from various distances, similar to the old men in the town of Agra. After Saleem’s family is killed during the Indo-Pakistani war, he is hit in the head with the exact same silver spittoon, and he instantly forgets his name and his entire identity. However, even with amnesia, Saleem knows that the spittoon is important, and he carries it with him throughout the war. To Saleem, the spittoon represents his identity, and he carries it with him until it is lost in Indira Gandhi’s Emergency.

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Spittoons Symbol Timeline in Midnight’s Children

The timeline below shows where the symbol Spittoons appears in Midnight’s Children. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Book 1: Hit-the-Spittoon
Truth and Storytelling Theme Icon
Sex and Gender Theme Icon
...is impotent, and no matter how hard he tries, he can’t seem to “hit Padma’s spittoon.” (full context)
Truth and Storytelling Theme Icon
Identity and Nationality Theme Icon
Fragments and Partitioning Theme Icon
Religion Theme Icon
...to the Hummingbird’s optimism and the streets of Agra, where old men sit and play hit-the-spittoon, attempting to spit tobacco into a receptacle from increasing distances. Saleem describes an old photograph... (full context)
Book 1: Under the Carpet
Sex and Gender Theme Icon
...with Nadir is the happiest time of her life. The two spend countless hours playing hit-the-spittoon, using a beautifully ornamented spittoon given to them as a wedding gift by Rani, who... (full context)
Book 2: How Saleem Achieved Purity
Identity and Nationality Theme Icon
...runs around the blast-zone chaos, knocked back by the power of the explosion, Amina’s old spittoon, her wedding gift from Rani, comes flying out of the fiery debris, striking Saleem on... (full context)
Book 3: The Buddha
Sex and Gender Theme Icon
Identity and Nationality Theme Icon
...as punishment for loving her. Saleem’s memory is still absent after being brained by the spittoon, and he is sent to a mysterious camp in the Murree Hills. (full context)
Identity and Nationality Theme Icon
Sitting under a tree holding a silver spittoon is Saleem, the CUTIA man-dog in the flesh. The three new recruits know little about... (full context)
Identity and Nationality Theme Icon
...seem to track very much at all. Instead, Saleem sits under a tree with his spittoon, smiling. The irritation in Saleem’s camp mirrors the irritation present in Pakistan, as Sheikh Mujib,... (full context)
Book 3: Sam and the Tiger
Identity and Nationality Theme Icon
Religion Theme Icon
...screams are echoed throughout the streets. Shaheed soon dies, and while Saleem still has his spittoon, he is unable to remember his name. (full context)