Midnight's Children

by Salman Rushdie
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What values exactly is Salman Rushdie trying to preserve for the people of India in Midnight's Children?

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Salman Rushdie shows history as a burden that the people of India, especially those born at the time of independence, must bear. Among the positive aspects of the nation’s history is diversity, symbolized by the many spices needed for the pickles made in the pickle factory Saleem manages. Saleem also uses the symbolism of pickles to frame and organize his memoir. Rushdie also argues for religious tolerance, which the violence of Partition had seriously jeopardized. Saleem is Hindu and British by heritage but Muslim by upbringing. The combination within him of these three important strands of Indian history offers the hope for greater social unity. Although Rushdie argues for the importance of traditional values, which were disrupted by British imperial rule, he also cautions against the rigidity of the caste system. Saleem’s hybridity and Shiva’s low-caste origin are portrayed as positive elements of the country’s future trajectory, while in traditional society they would have been denied the chance of making positive contributions.

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