Thursday, March 23, 2006

 

"Condemned by a perforated sheet to a life of fragments"

In terms of connection, the ending of Midnight’s Children brings the novel full circle. The themes of fragmentation and connection run throughout the novel, which begins with the life of Aadam Aziz, Saleem Sinai’s grandfather, and ends with the early life of his son, Aadam Sinai. While the two Aadams represent connection- a bringing together of the past, the present, and the future- they also represent fragmentation: while they are both members of Saleem’s family, neither of the two Aadams is actually blood related to Saleem. They are the blood grandfather and son, respectively, of Shiva. Saleem and Shiva are inextricably connected and simultaneously disconnected: They were born at the exact same moment, sharing not only a birthday but the honor of being the true “Midnight’s Children,” and, being separated at birth, they each grow up living the other’s life with the other’s family; their births were foretold to Amina as a baby having “two heads, but you shall only see one” (96). However, there is a strong disconnection: the two are basically opposites, with Saleem connecting all of the Midnight’s Children and Shiva fragmenting them- physically and figuratively.
Fragmentation or “perforation” is a key idea in the formation of Saleem’s life and family history: Aadam Aziz fell in love with his wife, Naseem, by seeing only parts of her body at a time through a perforated sheet; and Amina Sinai deals with her disappointment with her new husband Ahmed (compared to her first husband, Nadir) by learning to love him one part at a time: “She fell under the spell of the perforated sheet of her own parents, because she resolved to fall in love with her husband bit by bit” (72). Saleem describes himself as “perforating” and breaking apart throughout the narration; he blames the perforated sheet, which “condemned me to see my own life…in fragments…” (119). In this way, Saleem’s life mirrors that of India, which at the time was going through Partition, a perforation of its own. The novel ends accordingly, with Saleem imagining his being ripped to pieces by a crowd of familiar faces, becoming “only a broken creature spilling pieces of itself into the street, because I have been so-many too-many persons…” (533). Although the novel ends on a note of fragmentation, it is not necessarily negative: He sees all the people in his life who have connected the fragments, like his parents, his grandparents, his son, even Shiva. He lived a fragmented life, but it was a life full of connection due to the fragmentation.

Comments:
I think that this raises a very good point. This book likes to show things that are opposite of each other, and then shows what they have in common. Saleem and Shiva, Saleem and Aadam, India and Pakistan, even connectedness and fragmentation, which are essentailly opposites, have some kind of connection in this book. This makes it hard to see what Rushdie wants the reader to believe. Should Pakistan and India have been partitioned? Judging from the title of the post, I would say Rushdie feels the partition condemned Indians and Pakistanis to a "life of fragments."
 
Although I agree with many of the points brought up in this post, I do not think that the ending leaves the reader with a sense of "connected fragments". I think we are still confronted with the peices of Saleem's life and work, but left with a sense of hope that his son will be strong enough to pick up these peices and continue where Saleem left off, in hopes of finally connecting them; Saleem's son is meant to finish what he could not do.
 
Great analysis of the novel, Kristen. It wraps up the book into a nice, clean package, and ties in nicely to the course as a whole, with a nod to Margaret's cry in Howard's End to "live in fragments no longer," and "only connect." It is interesting to consider Saleem's view of himself "in fragments" in relation to his concerns about memory and writing, and, of course to the Partition. It's difficult for me to read this novel without wondering about the political implications at the end, though. You write that "Saleem's life mirrors that of India." I would be curious to know if you believe Rushdie's opinion about the fate of India and Pakistan is indeed a condemnation, as Maggie ventured to guess.
 
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