What is the trauma of historical memory in Midnight's Children?

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

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I think that the answer to such a question is present in how both conditions are impermanent.  The idea of a lack of absolutism in either is a source of liberation and a source of pain for the Sinai family.  On one hand, the freedom of India at midnight represents a canvass upon which national identity and personal notions of identity construction can be rendered.  Yet, the reality that the Sinai family face, in particular Saleem, is that what had previously defined consciousness no longer exists.  It is very interesting to note that the novel opens not with Saleem, but rather a retelling of his family, an element that is no longer with him at the end of the novel.  The impermanence of both national memory and personal history are elements that Saleem confronts in trying to construct a new nation, as part of the council of Midnight's Children, and in his own personal identity, as a child of Midnight.  These conditions are both personally liberating, but also subjectively difficult and a challenge.  It is not something that can be easily articulated, other than to suggest that human freedom brings pain and hurt, but it is the only resource one has in the construction of national identity and personal subjectivity.

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