In Midnight's Children, Aadam and Naseem Aziz embody the tension between traditionalist and more modern values. How is Aadam depicted to be a richly flawed character?

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

As with so much in Rushdie, Aadam is a richly flawed character.  In order to illuminate the sense of fragmentation that is intrinsic to the subcontinent's history, Rushdie has to create many characters that are richly flawed.  Aadam is one such character.  In his ethnicity and state-based alliance, Aadam is richly flawed.  He comes from Kashmir.  On one hand, he is a part of India, but on the other hand, he is not.  The Kashmir region itself is flawed.  It is perceived to be the land of the divine, and yet it is subject to some of the most terrestrial violence and disruption.  In coming from a land that means so much, Rushdie illuminates how flawed Aadam really is:

"Kashmiris are different. Cowards, for instance. Put a gun in a Kashmiri's hand and it will have to go off by itself—he'll never dare to pull the trigger. We are not like Indians, always making battles." Aziz, with Tai in his head, does not feel Indian. Kashmir, after all, is not strictly speaking a part of the Empire, but an independent princely state. He is not sure if the hartal of the pamphlet mosque wall newspaper is his fight, even though he is in occupied territory now.

Aadam is flawed as he reflects his geography.  He is Kashmiri, and is unable to make a full commitment to the changing landscape of the subcontinent.  He recognizes that he is "different" but is not "like Indians."  In this challenging and liminal condition, his flaws are richly exposed as being positioned between the traditional compliance of the past and modern notions of the good.

The fact that Aadam is fundamentally different is evident in his background.  He is different from other Indians in how he has studied abroad.  This difference has further divided him from others, helping to enhance his flawed condition:

"To the ferryman, the bag represents Abroad; it is the alien thing, the invader, progress. And yes, it has indeed taken possession of the young Doctor's mind; and yes, it contains knives, and cures for cholera and malaria and smallpox; and yes, it sits between doctor and boatman, and has made them antagonists."

Aadam is flawed because his training and background further divides him from other Indians.  He is unable to overcome this condition.  As a result, Aadam represents a flawed condition in which he understands his difference, but cannot find a home in it.  The reality of being an "alien" is reflective of his flawed condition, one where contentment and permanence give way to temporal movement.  In this reality, Aadam is shown to be a richly flawed character who starts an equally flawed lineage.