Sunday, August 5, 2012

Midnight's Children

Midnight's Children

Characters Discussed
Saleem Sinai
Saleem Sinai, the narrator, nicknamed Snotnose, Sniffer, Stainface, and Baldy, a thirty-year-old Muslim
Indian. He was born at midnight on India’s independence day, August 15, 1947. Saleem sees his personal
history and the history of the other thousand children born in the first hour of independence as intimately

connected to the future of all of India. He is the apparent son of a wealthy Muslim merchant in Bombay, but it
was later discovered that he was switched at birth with Shiva, another of midnight’s children. Saleem
believes that by using the power of his enormous but sensitive nose, he will become the leader of the
magically talented midnight’s children, who can change the world. After going through many trying and
fantastic experiences, which occasion the deaths of most of his family and contemporaries, Saleem composes
his memoirs in anticipation of his own end.
Shiva
Shiva, Saleem’s rival and the other infant exchanged at birth, named after the Hindu god of procreation and
destruction. Also one of midnight’s children, Shiva personifies power and violence. His knees are his magical
characteristic, knees that can squeeze the life out of any person. After Saleem discovers his own background,
he fears that Shiva will discover his and attempt to replace Saleem and punish him for the deception. Shiva, an
organizer of a youthful street gang in Bombay when young, joins the military and succeeds ruthlessly,
becoming India’s most famous war hero. He ultimately exposes his fellow midnight’s children, all of whom
are subsequently sterilized by the Indian government. Shiva already has fathered many illegitimate children,
however, including one by Parvati, whom Saleem accepts as his son.
Parvati-the-witch
Parvati-the-witch, who was born only seven seconds after midnight and is another of midnight’s children.
Her abilities are in conjuring and sorcery. She is in love with Saleem, but he resists her because of his desires
for Jamila, his sister. To overcome Saleem’s objections to marriage, Parvati seduces and becomes pregnant
by Shiva. She marries Saleem and takes the name Laylah Sinai. She dies in a government-sponsored riot led
by Shiva.
Aadam Sinai
Aadam Sinai, the son of Parvati and Shiva, born at midnight in 1975, coinciding with a state of emergency
proclaimed by the Indian government. Aadam is born with elephant-sized ears, and Saleem sees him as the
new midnight’s child.
Midnight's Children 1
Padma
Padma, Saleem’s plump and illiterate housekeeper. It is she to whom Saleem tells his tale after he discovers
her working in Mary Pereira’s pickle factory. Padma doubts much of what Saleem has to say but is fascinated
by his seemingly supernatural history. She wishes to marry Saleem, but he resists because of his impotence.
Mary Pereira
Mary Pereira, a Christian Indian, a midwife, and Saleem’s nurse. Because of her love for an Indian radical,
she switches Saleem and Shiva at birth, thus bringing Saleem into the Aziz-Sinai family, both fulfilling a
prophecy by a soothsayer and also misleading everyone. After confessing her crime many years later, Mary
eventually reappears in a factory manufacturing pickle chutney, and it is there that Saleem composes his
memoirs.
Aadam Aziz
Aadam Aziz, Saleem’s supposed grandfather and family patriarch from Kashmir. A medical doctor trained in
Germany, Aziz falls in love with Naseem Ghani, a young Indian woman, by examining various parts of her
body over a long period of time through a hole in a sheet.
Naseem Ghani
Naseem Ghani, Saleem’s supposed grandmother and wife of Aadam Aziz. Known as the Reverend Mother,
Naseem Aziz becomes the family matriarch, eventually eclipsing even her husband. She dies, along with
many others among Saleem’s family, in Pakistan during the Indo-Pakistani war of 1965.
Alia Aziz
Alia Aziz, Saleem’s supposed mother. Dark-complected in a society that admires fairness, she was first
married to a poet, Nadir Khan. The marriage was not consummated. She then married Ahmed Sinai, who
changed her name to Amina Sinai. She, too, dies in Pakistan.
Ahmed Sinai
Ahmed Sinai, Saleem’s supposed father, a Muslim businessman in Bombay. Something of a dreamer and
ultimately ineffective, he drowns his disappointments in drink.
William Methwold
William Methwold, an Englishman whose distant ancestor and namesake founded Bombay. Gifted with thick,
black, center-parted, and brilliantined hair, he seduces the wife of a street singer, thus becoming the father of
Saleem. Methwold sold his Bombay estate to Ahmed Sinai, turning over the property on August 15, 1947,
India’s independence day and the birthday of midnight’s children.
Jamila Sinai
Jamila Sinai, the Brass Monkey, Saleem’s supposed sister. A tomboy when young, after the family moves to
Muslim Pakistan, she becomes a popular singer of religious and nationalistic songs known as Jamila Singer.
Saleem falls in love with her, but his passion is not reciprocated.
Padma 2
Wee Willie Winkle
Wee Willie Winkle, an Indian street singer, the supposed father of Shiva. Vanita, his wife, was seduced by
Methwold and died giving birth to Saleem, who was immediately switched with Shiva by Mary Pereira.