Highlight the idea of nation as heterogeneous in the writings of Rushdie (Midnight's Children) and Amitav Ghosh (The Shadow Lines).

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In both writers, there is a sense of globalized reality that helps to define the nation as heterogeneous.  Both are not really animated by the traditional notion of nation as one strictly defined with borders and homogeneity.  Instead, there is a more global feel to the concept of "nation," one that is carried more in the consciousness of the individual than in the established borders of cartographers and politicians.  One of the most fundamental premises of Rushdie's "Midnight's Children" is the idea that the partition of India and the mere conception of the nation was arbitrary.  The switching of Saleem and Sinai helps to bring this out in that two children, born at the stroke of midnight randomly get switched and live in separate nations, separate worlds, but share a fundamental consciousness in that being born of the wondrous hour of midnight.  In this concept, "nation" is heterogeneous, as different people in different "nations" share similar experiences and fight against similar elements.  Such a concept as presented in the novel is not a traditional idea defined by borders and partitions.  In "The Shadow Lines," Ghosh plays with the same idea, in that the same battles that are supposed to take place in localized India are worldwide in a conception of nation that has individuals holding this idea in their own mind and psyche, regardless of border and boundary.  The characters presented are ones that experience nation in a heterogeneous sense, a more globalized sense.  This cosmopolitan conception is one where people do not live in nations.  Rather, nations live inside of individuals and the more this becomes true, the more heterogeneous, "the nation" becomes.