MIDNIGHT’S CHILDREN AND THE BIRTH PANGS OF A NEW NATION
- Jyoti Iyer
This paper examines the historical reference in Midnight’s Children which display the birth pangs that India as a nation faced before and right after its Independence from the British. In doing so, the paper first explores the significance that history holds in Salman Rushdie’s novels in general as well as the technique of historical- autobiographical narrative. The major birth pangs discussed in the paper arise from the attempt to control the inherent diversity of India in terms of religion, culture, class as well as language. The mixed identity of India, emerging from this diversity is also a point of focus here. This is evident even in the language and narrative style of the novel.
Salman Rushdie’s works are always rooted in the history of the time and place they represent. None of his works hang in the oblivion isolated from the real world.In Rushdie’s own words, “Works of art, even works of entertainment, do not come into being in a social and political vacuum. The way they operate in a society cannot be separated from politics, from history.”(Rushdie, Imaginary Homelands 130) Even if a writer is creating a fiction at place like R.K.Narayan’s Malgudi, the time in history and its political significance will invariably have an effect on the relevant historical reference. The imagined world is, must be, connected to the observable one.( Rushdie, Imaginary Homelands 118) What Virginia Woolf says about Shakespeare’s works is true about almost every work of art. A work of art is like a cobweb which seems to hang in the air on its own. But when you proceed to remove it, you realize that it is in fact, connected to various facts surrounding it: be they historical, social or political. According to Rushdie, this is the perfect way to structure a work. For a writer he says, “It will be as false to create a politics free fictional universe as to create one in which nobody needs to work or eat or...