Midnight’s Children

Midnight’s Children

by

Salman Rushdie

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Themes and Colors
Truth and Storytelling Theme Icon
British Colonialism and Postcolonialism Theme Icon
Sex and Gender Theme Icon
Identity and Nationality Theme Icon
Fragments and Partitioning Theme Icon
Religion Theme Icon
LitCharts assigns a color and icon to each theme in Midnight’s Children, which you can use to track the themes throughout the work.

Self-proclaimed writer and pickle-factory manager Saleem Sinai is dying—cracking and crumbling under the stress of a mysterious illness—but before he does, he is determined to tell his story. With the “grand hope of the pickling of time,” Saleem feverishly pens his autobiography, preserving his stories like jars of chutney, searching for truth and meaning within them. Born at the precise moment of India’s independence and endowed with magical powers Saleem’s remarkable story begins long…

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Born at exactly midnight on the eve of India’s independence from British colonialism, Saleem Sinai is the first free native citizen born on Indian soil in nearly a hundred years. After a century of British rule, in addition to a century of unofficial imperialism before that, Saleem’s birth marks the end of a two-hundred-year British presence in India. Using their considerable power and influence, the British impose their Western culture and customs onto the Indian…

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Salman Rushdie’s Midnight’s Children is a harsh critique of the gender-related power struggles of postcolonial Indian society. After generations of purdah—the belief that Muslim and Hindu women should live separately from society, behind a curtain or veil, to stay out of the sight of men—postcolonial women are encouraged to become “modern Indian women” and remove their veils. Countless years in the domestic sphere has branded them as weak, demure, and dependent on men, and…

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From the moment Saleem Sinai is born on the eve of India’s independence from Great Britain, he becomes the living embodiment of his country. Saleem is India, and his identity metaphorically represents the identity of an entire nation; however, Saleem’s identity is complicated and conflicted. A nation, generally understood as the same people living in the same place, only loosely applies to India’s diverse population. Instead, multiple religions, languages, and political beliefs divide postcolonial India…

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Following their 1947 independence from British rule, India begins to break up in a process known as partitioning. British India splits along religious lines, forming the Muslim nation of Pakistan and the secular, but mostly Hindu, nation of India. India continues to fracture even further, dividing itself based on language and class. Meanwhile, Saleem Sinai, the living embodiment of India, is also cracking—and dying. Saleem, born at the exact moment of independence, is inescapably…

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Religion is at the forefront of Salman Rushdie’s Midnight’s Children, and it drives most of the narrative throughout the entire novel. Saleem Sinai, the narrator-protagonist, is born Muslim but lives most of his life in the Hindu-steeped culture of Bombay. His lifelong ayah, Mary Pereira, is a devout Catholic, and his sister, the Brass Monkey, ultimately joins a nunnery. In the religiously pluralistic backdrop of postcolonial India, Rushdie references several…

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