Monday, August 19, 2019

Whose history, which narrator? :: Essays Papers

Whose history, which narrator? Salman Rushdie’s Midnight’s Children can be read, inter alia, as the unfolding of the twentieth-century India’s history. There is in the novel, virtually all of the twentieth century Indian history: the Jallianwalla Buch tragedy, Quit India movement, Cabinet Mission, freedom movement, Muslim League and its role, riots and bloodshed subsequent to the independence, Five Years Plans, reorganization of Indian states and language riots, Chinese aggression, the theft of the sacred relic from the Hazratbal mosque, Pakistan War, liberation of Bangladesh, the Emergency, the military coup in Pakistan in 1958, and various other historically important events. There are also typically Indian divisions and dissents, chaos and disillusion, communal tensions, religious fanaticism besides traditional values and modernizing efforts. One aspect Rushdie places emphasis on, is the close link between the history of India and the history of Saleem’s family. In the end, the former can be read as a family album. Saleem’s uncle, Zulfikar, is a Pakistani general who helps General Ayub Khan to plan the military takeover of 1958; his aunt is a mistress of Homi Catrak, who is shot by the husband of Lila Sabarmati, another of his mistresses (Commander and Mrs. Nanavati in real life); his classmate Cyrus Dubash becomes the founder of a religious cult that seems to be an amalgam of Guru Maharaj and Hatha-yogi Lakshman Rao who claimed he could walk on water; Saleem himself triggers off one of the worst language riots in Bombay; his mother was first married to Shcikh Abdullah’s right-hand man; the disappearance of the Prophet’s Hair is linked to his grandfather. In addition, Saleem belongs to an extremely peculiar group of 1,001 children born within the very first hour of India’s independence, on the 15th of August 1947, and capable of performing paranormal phenomena. Saleem, thus becomes an authentic representative of India, he is India. Rushdie is convinced that there is a connection between public affairs and private lives. They interpenetrate and that is how the writer needs to examine them, the one in the context of the other. In the light of this consideration we can read the passage in which Saleem declares: Who what am I? My answer: I am the sum total of everything that went before me, of all I have seen done, of everything done-to-me. I am everyone everything whose being-in-the-world affected was affected by mine. I am anything that happens after I’ve gone which would not have happened if I had not come.

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