Thursday, March 23, 2006

 

Mixed Feelings

Rushdie's ending to Midnight's Children is a difficult one to characterize, however, I would characterize the ending of Midnight’s Children as a mixture of depressing, hopeful, and incomplete with the emphasis on depressing. I use the characterization of depressing because of the very last paragraph of the book: “Yes, they will trample me underfoot, the numbers marching one two three, four hundred million five hundred six, reducing me to specks of voiceless dust, just as, in all good time, they will trample my son who is not my son, and his son who will not be his, and his who will not be his, until the thousand and first generation, until a thousand and one midnights have bestowed their terrible gifts and a thousand and one children have died, because it is the privilege and the curse of midnight’s children to be both masters and victims of their times, to forsake privacy and be sucked into the annihilating whirlpool of the multitudes, and to be unable to live or die in peace.”
This paragraph emphasizes the story’s rebellion against the traditional Novel’s “happy ending.” The novel leaves the reader on a note of depression, with the images of trampled life and suffering and dying children, opposed to the traditional ending of new life.
The paragraph also discusses the idea that their children are not actually their children, emphasizing the lack of connections within relationships. This may deal with the novels idea that India and Pakistan are separate, but should be connected. That despite the countries’ differences it would have been better for everyone if they had remained one country because they are still related whether they like it or not, so the separation is only leading to destruction. The fragmentation used through Saleem’s narration of the story was another clue to the need for the countries to become whole again in order for life to be better, and without the unification it is not possible to have a truly happy ending.
This need for unification is also what leaves the story with an incomplete ending. There cannot be a traditional complete ending without the two countries becoming one and at peace, because until that happens there will not be a place for everyone. A more complete sense of identification for the narrator and his family is what would complete the ending, but without a unification of the countries this is really not possible since his family relates to both sides, religiously with Pakistan and with India in regards to their business/livelihood.
The slightly traditional aspect of the novel is the glimmer of hope the author leaves the reader with, “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.” The speechless child speaking his first word gives the reader the possibility to hope for a change in the characters’ lives. The child is now speaking, maybe he can make a difference, after all he is a midnight’s child, with special powers. And the word that he spoke “abracadabra” is after all a magician’s phrase, so maybe the child will have the skills that his father has said are needed to survive.

Comments:
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
 
I would argue that Midnight’s Children possesses the most depressing ending that we have encountered this semester thus far, and I believe it is the type of ending that Rushdie wanted. Rushdie could have ended the novel on a traditional and hopeful note after Saleem marries Padma and they become the parents (sort of) of Aadam Sinai. Yet Rushdie concludes his novel by saying, “they will trample me…they will trample my son who is not my son, and his son who will not be his…until a thousand and one midnights have bestowed their terrible gifts and a thousand and one children have died, because it is the privilege and the curse of midnight’s children to be both masters and victims of their times, to forsake privacy and be sucked into the annihilating whirlpool of the multitudes, and to be unable to live or die in peace” (533). Although neither the past nor the present has been kind to Saleem or his country, it appears that the future looks bleak as well. The idea of being unable to live or die in peace certainly does not bode well for the midnights to come.
 
I have an even more depressing view on the ending of Midnight's Children than Katie does in her blog. I dont think that by using the antecdote of the speechless Aadam crying out, "Cadabra!", Rushdie is implying any sort of hope at the child's generation being able to fix the state of things in their country. We must remember that Saleem acts as the ever hopeful Brahma (who "dreams a world"), so perhaps in his hopeful eyes there is hope for his nation portrayed through this utterance. However, for the more pessimistic outside viewer, it may also be interpreted as a sarcastic, "nothing besides pure magic can fix this screwed up country now."
 
Katie does a very thorough analysis of the novel’s main ideas. I would also like to stress the idea of the division of one country and one people into the two countries of India and Pakistan. Rushdie persuasively demonstrates that it was absurd to separate India and Pakistan. He compares the two countries to two “brothers,” and to “brother” and “sister.” The comparison can be taken even further, demonstrating a stronger bond between the two “brothers,” when you consider that Saleem calls Shiva his alter ego, his second self, or his second head. Through Saleem, Rushdie tells the story of separation of two brother-peoples; he is grieved by the confusion it causes. Because of separation, Saleem’s family “could not go to Agra to mourn [his] grandfather (363). Saleem compares living in Pakistan to exile; he lost his birthplace. To emphasize that loss, Rushdie writes that Saleem lost his “truest birthright,” the partition “’jammed’ [his] thought-transmissions” (325). Even though I would like to finish on a more hopeful note, Rushdie’s last words leave little hope for Pakistan, India and Saleem, “unable to live or die in peace” (533).
 
I concur with Katie's conclusion that despite how hard it is to characterize Midnight's Children, it is a book that incites a mixture of feelings from the reader and within itself. As far as Midnight's Children being depressing.....I could agree with that simply because Saleem's narration exposes who he truly is. A character with no sound identity. He constantly reminisces about the past, the history of his country and his family. In his telling of his story to Padma, it is unclear as to whether or not he is just babbling different episodes of his life or if this is an attempt to truly define himself. Although the book was pretty good and yet strange at the same time, I couldn't quite put my finger on what was irrelevant and what wasn't. As for the ending of the novel.....I thought that it was the most normal part of the novel.
 
Post a Comment



<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?