What are the advantages and disadvantages of self-reflexive and non-linear historical account or narration of Saleem Sinai in Midnight's Children?

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

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I would say that one of the most unique elements to Saleem's narration is that it is fragmented and not coherent.  This is similar to the manner in which India was partitioned and what resulted after the British left.  The advantages of Saleem's method of narration is that it does not provide a sense of totality and a sense of completeness.  In creating a narration in this manner, Rushdie is able to bring out some of his post- modern themes concerning identity in the modern setting.  A natural disadvantage of this is that those who strive for unity and harmony in the narrative will be disappointed.  Yet, within this lies Rushdie's pure strength.  In attempting to bring out the idea that modernity brings with it a sense of incomplete and a sense of fragmented, Saleem's narration, the voice of the modern India, is developed in this manner.  This is only enhanced by the idea of the errors in the narrative.  The mistakes that Saleem commits in his retelling of India is something that reflects how history, in general, is filtered through individual bias and subjectivity.  In this, the modern setting lies, where information is present, but truth in the totalizing sense is not.

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