Midnight's Children

by Salman Rushdie

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How is magical realism used in Midnight's Children?

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In works of literature, magic realism refers to a combination of fantasy and reality: the insertion of magical, mythical elements into an otherwise realistic narrative. There are numerous examples of this in Midnight's Children, where Salman Rushdie uses magical realism to highlight both the reality of Indian political life in the early days of independence and the enchanted, mythological worldview that still persists throughout all sections of society. In recovering myths long suppressed or marginalized under the Raj, Rushdie has been seen by some critics as a post-colonial writer, utilizing traditional indigenous methods of story-telling to convey a uniquely Indian perspective.

Examples of magic realism in the text would include the miraculous powers attributed to the midnight's children of the title, those born on the stroke of midnight of Indian independence. Saleem Sinai, the narrator, is one such child of independence, and his special status gives him the ability to read people's minds. He is also blessed with a large nose that makes it possible for him to smell the emotions and intentions of others. Saleem uses his special powers to good effects in a number of historical situations, such as when he leads his fellow soldiers to safety away from the mystical Sundarban Jungle.

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How does Salman Rushdie present histogriographic metafiction in Midnight's Children?

The style in which Rushdie presents his work helps to bring out its thematic development.  I think that Rushdie's grasp of historiography is driven by the expressions of the subjective.  Rushdie tells the history of the Indian subcontinent before, during, and after Partition through the individual perception of Saleem.  Through this narrative, Rushdie utilizes historiographical elements.  The assembling of history is done so through an individual voice. Saleem is aware of his meta-fictional and meta-historical condition for he understands his unique powers being a child of Midnight and being a historian of this "tryst with destiny."   Yet, this voice is fraught with errors.  Saleem makes many assertions that are contradicted with the record of historical development.  This form of "errata" is exactly what Rushdie seeks to create.  In the end, all historiography is flawed with what it includes and what it excludes.  There can be no super- historical record, no overarching voice that claims to have complete and totalizing authority.  This is where Rushdie's claims of historiography are the most powerful.  Rushdie does not intend his work to become a historical collection of data.  Yet, in the process, Rushdie brings out questions about this collection of data in the first place.  In the final analysis, there is significant question as to how history is collected and assessed, and just like Saleem, that has errors in his retelling, yet knows this is the only retelling out there, we, as individuals of historiography, must live with our own limitations, seeking to bring other voices into the discourse to enlighten and enhance our own.  It is in this where Rushdie's work becomes powerful and almost transcendent in a condition where contingency is the limiting factor for all.

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How does Salman Rushdie present magic realism in his novels, especially in Midnight's Children?

Salman Rushdie writes about real-world events blended with mysticism and magical happenings. In Midnight's Children, the protagonist embodies this ideal because he was born right at the time that India and Pakistan were made into independent states and because he's telepathic. By presenting stories this way, Rushdie is able to make reality seem askew while still making it seem real and immediate to the reader.

The events in Midnight's Children mirror the real world. However, the inclusion of the protagonist and his narration constructs the story in such a way that even a person who lived in India during that time would not recognize it. Even though the book's sections chart different real-life occurrences in India, there is a twist to each event that makes it seem unreal or like something not of this world.

The narrator, Saleem, is born at the moment that India becomes independent; in total, 1000 children were born at that moment. All of their lives are guided by the fate of India. This is an example of magical realism. Even though the setting and historical events are real; the idea that children born at that moment are mystically linked to India makes the story fantastic. This convention makes the story something other than a retelling of historical events. This is one way in which Rushdie presents magical realism.

Saleem himself is so linked to India and Pakistan: his features physically resemble them. His nose is the shape of the subcontinent and his birthmarks reference Pakistan. There was a prophecy that told of his birth and what his impact would be. This is something else that links him to India. Obviously, magical prophecies aren't real; however, Rushdie is able to use these fantastic details to tell a real story about a time in history and how it affected the people who lived through it.

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How does Salman Rushdie present magic realism in his novels, especially in Midnight's Children?

Let us begin by reminding ourselves what a definition of magic realism actually is before going on to examine this excellent postcolonial classic. Magic realism is a literary style that combines incredible events with realistic details and presents them in a tone that seems to suggest credibility. This interlacing of fantastical events with the mundane was pioneered in Latin America. Generally, magic realism blends real and fantastic, incorporating magic, myth and imagination into its genre, seeking to redefine what constitutes reality.

Now, having given ourselves a working definition of the term, let us now examine Midnight's Children. It is clear that Rushdie incorporates "real" and "unreal" elements, drawing on mythology, and, some critics argue, "remythologising" India in the process. We can see this is evident from the beginning of the novel, which focuses on the Independence of India. However, immediately, this very real and political event is juxtaposed with the midnight's children, who are gifted with magical powers.

This is what makes this novel so attractive and such a gripping read. Rushdie seems to offer comment on real political events but through flights of fantasy that seem to draw on various myths and legend. Equally, you might want to consider the role of the central protagonist, Saleem, who is presented in such a way as to undermine his credibility. He is unattractive and foolish, and yet he is the central way in which Rushdie offers serious political commentary on the postcolonial nature of India. Again and again, the absurd and ludicrous is matched with the deathly serioius.

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How does Salman Rushdie reflect magical realism in his book Midnight’s Children?

Rushdie employs magical realism in his development of the novel's hero, Saleem Sinai, and the characteristics of the other children born in India between midnight and 1 am on August 15th, 1947, the precise date and time at which India is freed from British colonial rule. The reader is meant to accept that the children born at this time are all gifted with magical powers, which meets the fantastical elements required of magical realism in literature.

One character named Parvati-the-witch is an example of one of these midnight's children who has magical powers. She is a real witch, but she is unable to use her powers successfully to encourage Saleem to love her. Once it is clear Saleem is not in love with Parvati, she has an affair with another character named Shiva. Rushdie blends magical realism with theology in this particular element of his story-telling because in Hinduism, Parvati is the name of Shiva's consort, and both individuals figure promininently in the Hindu religion.

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How does Salman Rushdie reflect magical realism in his book Midnight’s Children?

I think that one can see magical realism best displayed in Rushdie's protagonist.  Saleem's unique ability of being able to possess a strong sense of smell helps to allow the idea of magical realism to present itself.  When Rushdie brings out the magical realism through Saleem, it can also be seen through Saleem's own narration.  The magical realism present can be understood as a sense of errata, or mistakes in narration.  It helps to evoke Rushdie's idea that consciousness is not totalizing, not something that is perfectly unified and thoroughly coherent.  The magical realism that is brought out through Saleem is a way to comprehend the idea that there is a certain amount of fragmentation within human consciousness.  Contrary to politicians and leaders who profess to present a thoroughly unified vision of reality, Rushdie's, and Saleem's, the magical realism present helps to challenge and question authority.

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How does Salman Rushdie reflect postcolonial elements in Midnight's Children?

I think that the post-colonial struggle for identity is what Saleem endures throughout the novel.  In this light, there is much in way of post-colonialism in the work.  Saleem is an interesting post-colonial character in that he is born at the precise moment when post-colonialism in India emerges.  Yet, his narrative is traced back to a time when colonialism is in full force.  This means that post-colonialism has a very odd relationship with colonialism.  On one hand, it seeks to be independent of it.  While on the other side of the coin and almost simultaneously, it cannot help but be linked to it.  In this regard, there is a very strange dynamic at hand with identity in the post-colonial world.  This is where Saleem is in the novel and what the reader understands as a result of this dynamic.  Post-colonialism expresses its search for identity through a complex set of conditions where uncertainty is present and a struggle to find some level of firm grounding is evident.  This is where Saleem, and most of India on the stroke of Independence and Partition, lies.  In the end, the only constant is that there is a struggle to establish identity.  This seems to be the sole bulwark that is taken from both Saleem's and India's struggle in the course of Rushdie's work.

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