Sunday, October 9, 2011

"And we all had superpowers. But mine were the best."

            That’s basically what Saleem implies throughout all of Midnight’s Children. While other kids in the Midnight Children’s Conference (aka the Indian X-Men) can walk through walls, fly, and travel through time, Saleem considers himself superior because of his telepathic powers and the fact that he was born EXACTLY on the stroke of midnight. Even beyond his own abilities, Saleem seems very focused on himself. He loves to mention how many women he’s slept with (Parvarti the Witch, the girls during his army days, etc.) and how in love Padma is with him, which is kind of remarkable considering he describes himself as “bald, blotch-faced, missing part of a finger, and big-nosed” (I would just like to point out that Professor Xavier was also the leader of his mutant team, telepathic, and bald, thus proving hair impedes our true superhuman and leadership abilities).
Saleem also considers himself the primary cause for many major events in not only his family, but all of India, (the 1957 riots in Bombay being caused by him falling off his bike into a protest for example). His reasons for considering himself the catalyst may just be a reflection of Rushdie’s attempt to turn an individual’s life into the history of India, but it still gives us the impression that Saleem is arrogant to think so in the first place.
Maybe I’m just skeptical of autobiographies (in this case, fictional). I mean, if your story’s so great, why are you the one having to write it down? In any case, Saleem thinks pretty highly of himself for being the baby who got mentioned in the paper next to the cut-out coupons for laundry detergent…  


  1. I kind of got the feeling he was overemphasizing how great he was to the point that maybe he didn’t even believe it himself. He wouldn’t even name most of the other midnight children supposedly to protect them because they, like him deserve their private lives. If he valued that so much why is he telling his entire life story to the world. Saleem seems to need other people to think he is so important possibly because he doesn’t feel that important. Like when he was riding his bike for his friend that he was in love with (for the life of me I can’t remember her name right now and I don’t have my book with me) and he wouldn’t stop even when she said she wanted to watch the marches instead of him. He seems to look for that validation and talks himself up more to compensate for what I perceive as a fear of being unimportant. That tends to be true in society today because usually the person that is saying how wonderful they are and putting themselves in the spotlight, quite often don’t feel very confident about themselves and are looking for validation. Maybe Saleem needs that as well…

  2. Talking highly of yourself is definitely something lots of people with low self esteem do. He brags about having the gift of creating new parents, but is he really bragging, or explaining to us that he never really had one place and set of people he could call his own. Each gift was in the same respects, a curse to the poor kid. His nose was told to him to be a nose of royal appeal, but his teacher made it the butt of a mean joke. Saleem stated he could read minds, and when he did he was struck by his father which silenced his confession to others. When he reads that one little bratty girls mind she cuts him out of her gang of friends. He was born on the stroke of midnight, which landed him to not belong to just one family, but the nation. This cost him having his very own blood family from day one (even though the one he is placed with is better off). The kid learns to stand up for himself and gets part of his finger cut off. His dad drinks himself into a hot mess, the mom runs off to see another man, and his sister sets fire to shoes. If I were this little boy I think I would try to talk highly of myself in my head too. It’s better than the little dude calling it quits. He’s all of like ten at this time and he has gone through some hell for a child. Let’s cut the boy a break and perhaps the man he becomes.

  3. I love the X-Men connection!

    In regards to Saleem's arrogance, do you think that changes as the novel goes on? It seems that particularly in the last chapter or so he is critical of his initial delusions of grandeur?