midnight's children

by salman rushdie

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how is the issue of diaspora explored in midnight's children?

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a major theme of salman rushdie's 1981 novel midnight's children is the diaspora, or perhaps more accurately migrations, of the family of the narrator, saleem sinai, within the indian subcontinent. these movements are driven in part by political events following india's independence from british colonialism and in part by economic imperatives.

it should be noted that the novel's style is magical realism, a style or genre famously developed by colombian author gabriel garcía márquez.

the theme of migration is introduced by saleem's remark "in my family, we always go where we're pushed." his parents move from delhi to bombay in search of "dirt cheap property." his uncle hanif also settles in bombay to seek work in "the great film studios." saleem himself undergoes a series of "exiles," one of which takes him to pakistan, recently partitioned from india. eventually his parents leave bombay for karachi, seeking "a new life" away from the economic and political chaos of india. saleem blames their subsequent hard times in pakistan on "a terrible, occult series of reprisals for tearing up our bombay roots." note that it's characteristic of saleem to feel personally responsible for catastrophes that unfold on the world stage and, conversely, that the underlying purpose of these major events is simply to derail his family.

it would be worthwhile to trace the diaspora of the other "children of midnight"—for example, shiva, possessor of the most powerful telepathic abilities of them all.

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how is the issue of diaspora presented in salman rushdie's novel midnight's children?

in literature, the term “diaspora” refers to the upheaval of characters who leave their own countries and strike out to new places, feeling both the excitement of opportunity and the alienation of a new culture. let's look at how this issue works in salman rushdie's midnight's children.

this novel is purportedly the memoir of saleem, a man who has experienced much upheaval in his life. saleem was born at midnight on august 15, 1947, the very time india and pakistan separated to become independent countries. saleem, however, fits in nowhere. he is connected to india, yet his family is originally from kashmir. it turns out that he was switched at birth, however, so his origins are even more obscure.

saleem ends up in pakistan at one point, but his family members are killed by bombs, and saleem is injured. he returns to india, and his adventures continue.

saleem, then, is a member of the diaspora, as are the other “midnight children.” they do not have a real home anywhere but often wander about unsettled. saleem ends up manager of a pickle factory in the end, writing his memoir but still failing to find meaning.

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