Purdah is the practice of certain Muslim and Hindu women to separate themselves from men in society by living behind a curtain or veil in their homes, and by wearing clothing that covers their faces and bodies when in public. In Midnight’s Children, modern Indian women are encouraged to exit purdah and officially enter society; however, this is difficult for some of the characters. Aadam Aziz’s wife, Reverend Mother, resents her modern role outside of purdah, and Aadam’s own mother, while she agrees to be seen by men in the name of running the family’s gemstone business, claims that it causes her pain and boils. Purdah impacts the women of Midnight’s Children in numerous ways, and while they are never totally accepted as equals by the men of the story, the book suggests that gender equality begins largely with exiting purdah.
Purdah Term Timeline in Midnight’s Children
The timeline below shows where the term Purdah appears in Midnight’s Children. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Book 1: The Perforated Sheet
...to Kashmir, Aadam finds his father housebound after a stroke and his mother, having exited purdah, running the family’s gemstone business. Now, his father sits at home in a fog, making... (full context)
...at home, where his mother complains of a headache and rash. Embarrassed about removing her purdah and working with the public in the family’s gemstone business, Aadam’s mother has broken out... (full context)
Book 1: Mercurochrome
Book 1: Hit-the-Spittoon
...ship, and her command is unchallenged. She continues to resent sex and coming out of purdah, and she has no interest in politics. When Aadam wishes to discuss political happenings, he... (full context)