Discuss the language of Midnight's Children

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You might like to consider the way in which language is used in this brilliant novel to stress the contrast between Saleem and Shiva, his mystical twin. One of the repeated expressions that is echoed throughout the novel in terms of describing these two characters is "nose and knees" and this refrain serves to stress the overwhelming difference between the two characters and their points of strength and weakness. Saleem's strength lies in his nose and the way that it gives him the ability to telepathically communicate with all of the midnight's children, and then, after his operation, how it gives him an incredible sense of smell. Shiva's strength, by contrast, lies in his knees and the great strength and military prowess that it gives him.

In addition, the language that Rushdie uses in this novel stresses other ways in which these two characters are opposite. Shiva is said to be handsome and very strong, whereas Saleem has few redeeming qualities in terms of his physical appearance. The language used, coupled with the refrain of "nose and knees," thus helps consolidate the ways in which these two characters are used as foils for each other, which serves to emphasise and exaggerate their strengths and weaknesses.

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Midnight's Children

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