The Title of Midnight’s Children MEG 07 Indian English Literature
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The Title of Midnight’s Children MEG 07 Indian English Literature

The title of Midnight’s Children comes from the hour of India’s independence, August 15, 1947. In Rushdie’s book, all the children born at the same time become the children of the period: “Fathered, you understand, by history.”  And the childrens  represent “the highest of talents of which men have ever dreamed”.

Saleem’s story speaks of the joyful discovery of the midnight children via his protagonist Saleem’s own “All India Radio,” his own amazing psychic talent that serves as a communications hub for all 1001 of the youngsters. However, their potential has yet to be realised. “Childhood is the name of the third principle.” But it dies, or more accurately, it is murdered.”

The annihilation of the Midnight’s Children, which Saleem thinks is the true reason for India’s state of emergency, lies at the core of his dark tale. Mrs. Gandhi, the widow, totally destroys their magical abilities by performing “test-and-hysterectomies” on them (438). This is Rushdie’s way of expressing that the Emergency had emasculated and castrated the nation.

Rushdie’s humour comes through in a 1985 interview in which he discusses how the concept of midnight children came to be. He claims he started with only one kid. As he considered switching them, they became two.

“Then I realised that in a nation like India, you can’t have only two children. It has to be more than two, and if it is, why these two? I used calculators to do a quantitative calculation on India’s birthrate and discovered that a thousand and one children is correct” (Interview 18).


The Title of Midnight’s Children MEG 07 Indian English Literature


Rushdie, while writing about the Indian subcontinent, is in some ways similar to the authors who came before him, such as Raja Rao and R. K. Narayan, but he is also extremely different.

During India’s independence struggle, Rao’s Kanthapura was the sthalapurana, or place legend, par excellence. His true idol is Mahatma Gandhi. In contrast to Rao’s book, Narayan’s “Waiting for the Mahatma” is a light satire on the ordinary Indian’s inadequate knowledge of the Gandhi-led liberation movement while being respectful to the Mahatma. Gandhi appears in Midnight’s Children as well, but the historical memory of independent India is so hazy that Saleem records the date of his murder erroneously. The lapse simply serves to emphasise the chasm that exists between modern-day Indian and Gandhian principles.

The title Midnight’s Children refers to both the promise that the 1001 children represented and the post-independence generation’s inability to bear the burden of building a perfect society. Most English-language publications in India congratulated the Midnight children, who were born on India’s fiftieth anniversary, in an act of real life mimicking fiction!

There are a total of 1001 youngsters that are awake at midnight. This statistic may be perplexing, and some may question why Rushdie selected 1001 children rather than 1000, which is a round number. In reality, Rushdie claims in the same interview that the number of 1001 is low, and that there are possibly twelve or thirteen hundred infants born per hour (Interview 18). So, why did Rushdie choose the number 1001? Because the number evokes both “Scheherzade’s” 1001 tales recounted every night in the “Arabic Nights” to save her life and Rushdie’s book about telling stories.

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