Midnight's Children Questions and Answers
by Salman Rushdie

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What is the role of the epic structure in Midnight's Children?

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There are broadly two views about how Salman Rushdie uses epic structure in Midnight’s Children (1981). The first is that he deliberately uses classic elements of the epic form to parody the genre. The second view is that in Midnight's Children Rushdie does not merely parody epic structure as understood in the West but deliberately uses conventions from Asian and Indian epic traditions to challenge and subvert it. According to this viewpoint, Rushdie seems to be clearly establishing that his story is an epic, but an epic that Western epic structure alone cannot describe. This epic requires multiple points of view and digressing stories to be told, elements that are regarded as anti-epic, but not necessarily so in Asian and Indian epic traditions. This last bit cannot be emphasized enough.

I think both of these viewpoints are useful when studying epic structure in Midnight’s Children. With regard to the first point of view, a comment from Rushdie’s book of essays Imaginary Homelands (1991) gives...

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