Identify how the theme of revenge is present in Midnight's Children.

Expert Answers
Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

One way in which the theme of revenge is evident in the story is how Shiva seeks control through violence.  Already a bully, when Shiva becomes aware of the Midnight's Children Conference, he wants control of it for his own agenda.  He wants control of the conference because of the belief that the life that Saleem has led is one that he, himself, should have led.  Whereas Saleem seeks to build community and develop a sense of solidarity, Shiva advocates individual self- interest and uses revenge towards this end.  His leadership role in the bulldozing and neutralizing of the Magician's Ghetto is an example of how political power can be used to fulfill the individual desire for revenge.  The manner in which Saleem envisioned Shiva's death at the hands of one of the many women he impregnated is another example of how revenge is a part of his identity.

In another sense, I think that Indira Gandhi is shown to be a political creature of revenge.  The "Black Widow"'s desire to consolidate her own control over the political factions that called for her ouster is what drives the Emergency.  The suspension of individual rights and establishment of martial law are examples of political revenge.  Angered by the voices calling for her removal, she enacts Emergency rule in order to make sure that there can be no challenges to her power, punishing those who did.  The campaign of forced sterilization, something that Saleem succumbs to, is another example of this.  She, along with Shiva leading the charge, want to take revenge against the Midnight's Children and those who called out for change.  In being able to silence these voices through political power, Rushdie's depiction of Indira Gandhi is another example of how the theme of revenge is seen.