Kelly is an instructor of creative writing and literature in the Chicago area. In this essay, Kelly examines the ways in which the novel can be seen as too rich with possible symbolism to be understood, identifying the central symbolic structure.
Into his sprawling, dense novel Midnight's Children, Salman Rushdie packs hundreds of ideas that do not serve any clear purpose in advancing the narrative. There are details that are not only unnecessary but are distracting, little loose ends that do not make any real sense. When a writer does that, it is an open invitation to readers and critics to inquire into the significance of what the author has included. Not all elements must serve the story, and no one even asks that all elements be connected logically, but they all must have some reason for existing. It could well be that the reason some things seem unconnected in Midnight's Children is precisely to keep the story unfocused: starting, as it does, at such a significant time as the very moment of India's independence, the life of the novel's narrator, Saleem Sinai, is bound to have some allegorical meaning, and the allegory just might be that free India has no focus. If this were the case, though, then any sort of nonsense could happen in the novel, to be justified with the excuse that any sort of nonsense could happen in India. Works have been written based on theories of chaos, but Rushdie's prose is just too precise, his characters...
(The entire section is 1764 words.)
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