A hartal is a peaceful mass protest meant to appeal to a government to reverse or eliminate controversial rulings or laws, and it often leads to the total shutdown of businesses, schools, and associated governments. The word hartal is Gujarati, the native language of the Indian state of Gujarat, and it is used to explain the closing of shops or warehouses to satisfy a demand. Mahatma Gandhi was the first to use the term to describe his anti-British general strikes, which protested the continued presence of the British in India. In Midnight’s Children, Aadam Aziz, a doctor, supports Gandhi’s hartal by administering medical assistance to those injured by British aggression during the protest. Additionally, Saleem refers to his grandmother Reverend Mother’s, refusals to speak or eat when she disagrees with her family as examples of a hartal.
Hartal Quotes in Midnight’s Children
The Midnight’s Children quotes below are all either spoken by Hartal or refer to Hartal. For each quote, you can also see the other terms and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one: 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: Hit-the-Spittoon Quotes
“I started off as a Kashmiri and not much of a Muslim. Then I got a bruise on the chest that turned me into an Indian. I’m still not much of a Muslim, but I’m all for Abdullah. He’s fighting my fight.”
Hartal Term Timeline in Midnight’s Children
The timeline below shows where the term Hartal appears in Midnight’s Children. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Book 1: Mercurochrome
...a hotel in Amritsar because the trains are not running on account of Mahatma Gandhi’s hartal, and Naseem is growing increasingly irritated with the inconvenience. Aadam notices a young Indian soldier... (full context)