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How does Salman Rushdie challenge our assumption that history is impartial and neutral...

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ikra | High School Teacher | (Level 2) eNoter

Posted March 17, 2011 at 11:47 PM via web

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How does Salman Rushdie challenge our assumption that history is impartial and neutral in his novel Midnight's Children?

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted March 18, 2011 at 7:45 AM (Answer #1)

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Rushdie is able to challenge the supposed impartiality of history by displaying it as a collection of narratives rooted in power- based constructs.  One of the most powerful elements in Rushdie's work is the idea that his display of history is subjective based.  Saleem's narration is not entirely reliable, making significant errors at critical points.  It is also not entirely coherent, often times lacking a central focus point in its end.  This episodic and occasionally unreliable narration brings to light how Rushdie believes history is constructed.  Totality and perfection are not elements that are within human reach.  Rather, Rushdie seems to be arguing that historical subjectivity cannot be overcome.  History is always written and composed by those in the position of power.  In the battle between Shiva and Saleem, historical narrative falls under the force that has control, contributing to its impartial nature.  This becomes why Saleem's narrative becomes so important, as it represents a voice of resistance and individuality, as opposed to totality and impartiality.

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