A Critical Analysis of Book One from Midnight's Children
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A Critical Analysis of Book One from Midnight's Children

Are we actually all connected in some way that is bigger than ourselves?

A Critical Analysis of Book One from Midnight's Children

Midnight’s Children by Salman Rushdie begins with a man by the name of Saleem Aziz, born on August 15, 1947 the day India gained their independence from Britain. Saleem, who has just turned thirty one years old, feels as if he is about to die. With this thought lingering over him, he feels it is necessary to share his life story to his caretaker and wife, Padma. This novel is written in first person in the perspective of Saleem, but he does try to assure us that he is credible because is able to see in great detail his family’s life even though he has never been there. He takes us back to his grandfather’s life, Aadam Aziz, and continues to share the lives of his family and even his life as the novel continues from Book One. Saleem narrates the lives of his family to illustrate how their lives all intertwine with one another, but to also bring reference back to postcolonial India.

Rushdie creates Saleem to be this all knowing person, but also subjective when mentioning his thoughts towards his family members pasts. As he is telling us the story of his grandparents, we soon see that their once love inspiring marriage has turned sour and this is due to colonial views that Aadam, adapted to and wanted his country to adapt to it as well. He tried to bring this culture in first through his marriage with Naseem, and she took it offensively. He mentioned that she should be working more to please him in a sexual manner and:

“she has been weeping ever since he asked her, on their second night, to move a little. ‘Move where?’ she asked. ‘Move how?’ He became awkward and said, ‘Only move, I mean, like a woman…’ She shrieked in horror. ‘My God, what have I married? I know you Europe-returned men. You find terrible women and then you try to make us girls be like them! Listen, Doctor Sahib, husband or no husband, I am not any...bad word woman,” (Rushdie, 31).

Growing up in the west, she did not believe she had to become a slave to her husband and that sex was supposed to be a shared experience. It should not be all on the woman to make sure the man is satisfied and only he has the right to be satisfied. He fell in Europe’s trap, but Aadam was not the only one to fall under Europe’s tantalizing culture in India.

William Methwold is introduced as Saleem’s biological father, but Saleem never had the chance to experience the love of his biological father because Mary Pereira switched him and Shiva at birth to satisfy her “social justice.” She does eventually realize her mistake and dedicated her life to helping to raise Saleem. William Methwold is an Englishman who owned Methwold Estate who helped to colonize India. As he is working with the Indians, we notice:

“the Estate, Methwold’s Estate, is changing them. Every evening at six they are out in their gardens, celebrating the cocktail hour, and when William Methwold comes to call they slip effortlessly into their imitation Oxford drawls; and they are learning, about ceiling fans and gas cookers and the correct diet for budgerigars...Yes, that’s it. ‘Sabkuch ticktock hai,” mumbles Methwold. All is well,” (Rushdie, 109).

When Methwold invites the tenants to join him for a drink they begin to try their version of a colonizer. They are trying to impress him and show him how poised they are with their imitation accent.

There are people who idolized European culture and those who despised it because it was the same people that were trying to run their country through colonization. Saleem made sure to bring to our attention how his grandfather and many people do not see it in a negative view point and when India gained their independence we get the chance to see both sides of the spectrum. When Aadam came back from Europe: “he saw through traveled eyes. Instead of the beauty of a tiny valley circled by giant teeth, he noticed the narrowness, the proximity of the horizon; and felt sad, to be at home and feel so utterly enclosed. He also felt - inexplicably - as though the old place resented his educated, stethoscope return,” (Rushdie, 5). Aadam felt homesick when he was back at home. Saleem narrates how his grandfather felt like an alien in his own country and he just could not or wanted to adapt to the Indian culture. He loses sight of his identity which most people during colonization experience because an entirely different culture is being forced upon you. Most people have no choice but to adapt to it because it was under the law, or did so out of their own free will.
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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.

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