Tuesday, March 21, 2006


Midnight's Children

An ending wraps up the story the novel tells but also gestures toward the future. It can be comforting or apocalyptic, finite or unnervingly abstract (or all of the above). How would you characterize the ending of Midnight's Children? Does it even end? Rushdie's narrator, Saleem, is increasingly self-conscious of his need to end his story and of the problematic implications of doing so. If we have asked of our previous novels, "what is the moral of this story?" can we ask here "what is the moral of its stories?"
In order to help you pin this down, feel free to take one of the issues we focused on in class (paradox, connection, gender, reality/history, hope, violence, and form) as a way in to analyzing Rushdie's achievement (or lack thereof) OR take one of the following passages as a place to begin your consideration of where Midnight's Children ends up.
"And we all lived happily ... at any rate, even without the traditional last-sentence fiction of fairy-tales, my story does indeed end in fantasy" (372-3).
"but in finding it had become the first victim of that spirit of detached fatigue which made the end the only possible solution. (Tick, tock.)" (376).
"Scraps of memory: this is not how a climax should be written. A climax should surge towards its Himalayan peak; but I am left with shreds, and must jerk towards my crisis like a puppet with broken strings. This is not what I had planned; but perhaps the story you finish is never the one you begin" (491).
"Children, something is being born here, in this dark time of our captivity; let Widows do their worst; unity is invincibility! Children: we've won!" (502).
"But no, he has not finished, there is strain on his face, and finally my son, who will have to be a magician to cope with the world I'm leaving him, completes his awesome first word: '...cadabba'" (528).
"The process of revision should be constant and endless; don't think I'm satisfied with what I've done!" (530).
And, of course, feel free to analyze the actual final paragraph of the novel on page 533.

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