Recovered Writing: Undergraduate Postcolonialism Final Paper, Identity and History in Salman Rushdie’s Midnight’s Children, Fall 2004

This is the fourth post in a series that I call, “Recovered Writing.” I am going through my personal archive of undergraduate and graduate school writing, recovering those essays I consider interesting but that I am unlikely to revise for traditional publication, and posting those essays as-is on my blog in the hope of engaging others with these ideas that played a formative role in my development as a scholar and teacher. Because this and the other essays in the Recovered Writing series are posted as-is and edited only for web-readability, I hope that readers will accept them for what they are–undergraduate and graduate school essays conveying varying degrees of argumentation, rigor, idea development, and research. Furthermore, I dislike the idea of these essays languishing in a digital tomb, so I offer them here to excite your curiosity and encourage your conversation.

This essay was my final paper in Professor Narin Hassan’s Postcolonialism class at Georgia Tech in Fall 2004. Besides this being an important class in forming my ideas and attitudes about the postcolonial experience, Professor Hassan’s enthusiasm for the subject matter and encouragement to us to understand its theoretical underpinnings led me to want to read Salman Rushdie’s Midnight’s Children and to meet the author when he visited Emory University during that semester. This class and the work that it inspired me to do led to my further work in the field as a graduate student with Professor Masood Raja at Kent State University. Also, it broadened my reading and viewing interests, which led to presentations and publications.

Like my previous post from my undergraduate Gender Studies class, I am including some “special features” on this post after the essay. These include my project proposal, annotated bibliography, and outline. These might be interesting to you and my students.

Jason W. Ellis

Professor Narin Hassan

LCC 3316 Postcolonialism

November 29, 2004

Final Paper: Identity and History in Salman Rushdie’s Midnight’s Children

Salman Rushdie uses a nonlinear personal narrative to work through issues of identity, truth, and history in his novel, Midnight’s Children.  Rushdie writes Midnight’s Children from the point of view of the main character, Saleem Sinai, who is in turn writing his confessional autobiography.  Rushdie and Saleem each have their own unique histories, which play a part in the construction of this novel.  Saleem drifts between his present, his own past, and past events (which are not part of his direct experience).  The narrative centers on Saleem being born at midnight at the birth of India’s independence (along with 1,000 other children).  There is a connection between Saleem and India as well as between Saleem and the other Midnight’s children.  Saleem, however, is the narrator, and his choices and admissions reveal the fluidity of memory as well as the choices that one makes in remembering the past in a particular way.  Rushdie challenges the reader to reflect on why Saleem records the past in the way that he does and why he is the voice for the birth of a nation.  Additionally, Saleem uses the narrative to construct his own identity by connecting memory and self to the new nation, India.

Rushdie uses a nested structure to form the non-linear narrative of Midnight’s Children.  Speaker (Saleem) and audience (e.g., the reader, Padma) form the inner layer of the matryoshka-like novel.  The author, Rushdie, writes a novel that is a memoir written by a character, Saleem Sinai.  Saleem’s narrative expands in different directions with his story being told for the audience to read, his conversations with Padma in the present, his written description of his nightmares, and his telling of stories about people and events that are outside of his own experience.  Saleem seems to record everything, but he cannot commit every thought and action to paper.  Rushdie, through Saleem, is making choices about what he should and should not record.  In effect, Saleem’s voice is not objective, but is based on his memories as well as the choices that he makes in recording those memories for his audience.  Rushdie uses Saleem’s memory and choices to present a particular view of the birth of India, as well as to construct a voice for a young India.

Memories are the central theme of Midnight’s Children.  Rushdie writes in his essay, “Imaginary Homelands”:

…what I was actually doing was a novel of memory and about memory, so that my India was just that:  ‘my’ India, a version and no more than one version of all the hundreds of millions of possible versions.  I tried to make it as imaginatively true as I could, but imaginative truth is simultaneously honourable and suspect, and I knew that my India may only have been one to which I (who am no longer what I was, and who by quitting Bombay never became what perhaps I was meant to be) was, let us say, willing to admit I belonged (“Imaginary Homelands” 10).

Midnight’s Children is “a novel of memory and about memory.”  Because Rushdie unifies Saleem’s birth and life with the birth and life of India, he is constructing “[his] India, a version and no more than one version of all the hundreds of millions of possible versions.”  He claims, “imaginative truth is simultaneously honourable and suspect.”  It is honorable because he is attempting “to restore the past to myself, not in the faded grays of old family-album snapshots, but whole, in CinemaScope and glorious Technicolor” (“Imaginary Homelands” 10).  Rushdie also rationalizes his hybrid state when he says, “I knew that my India may only have been one to which I (who am no longer what I was, and who by quitting Bombay never became what perhaps I was meant to be) was, let us say, willing to admit I belonged.”  Rushdie, as a postcolonial writer, connects to his homeland through his memory.  That connection is mirrored in Rushdie’s fictional narrator also connecting to his past through memory.  Rushdie is writing about India and Saleem is writing about his experiences as one of the midnight children.  Rushdie gives voice to the postcolonial subject as he recalls “his” India from memory.  Saleem, in turn, builds his narrative from memory.  In both cases, author and

There are parallels about reclamation in his essay, “Imaginary Homelands” and Midnight’s Children.  He writes in “Imaginary Homelands,” Bombay is a city built by foreigners upon reclaimed land; I, who had been away so long that I almost qualified for the title, was gripped by the conviction that I, too, had a city and a history to reclaim” (10).  In Midnight’s Children, Rushdie writes of the failed business attempts by Saleem’s father at constructing tetrapods to reclaim land around Bombay.  The failures of Saleem’s father reflect the challenge of reclaiming land and of reclaiming memory.  Both the reclaiming of land and the reclaiming of memory are monumental tasks with the former challenging physicality and the latter challenging the psychosocial experiences of the author who in turn applies these to a fictional narrator.

The task of reclaiming the past is as problematic as traveling through time.  Traveling to the past can create a paradox.  Rushdie writes about Saleem’s return to Bombay, “yes, it was my Bombay, but also not-mine…the past failed to reappear” (Midnight’s Children 522).  Memories, recalled by the narrator (or author), replay on the stage of the mind.  One may relive the past, focus on the elements of an exchange, or zoom in on a particular character.  Along with “the past [that] failed to reappear” are Rushdie’s old photographs and his memories of his past.  The reality that he witnesses in the present does not match his expectations and imaginings of the past.  The past and present are two different “places” that are divided by the expanse of time.  Because the past is not a place which can be revisited in a real sense, Rushdie constructs Midnight’s Children as a way to “create fictions, not actual cities or villages, but invisible ones, imaginary homelands, Indias of the mind” (“Imaginary Homelands” 10).

Midnight’s Children presents one of the many possibilities created on the night of India’s birth.  Rushdie writes, “A thousand and one children were born; there were a thousand and one possibilities which had never been present in one place at one time before; and there were a thousand and one dead ends, Midnight’s children can be made to represent many things, according to your point of view” (Midnight’s Children 230).  Saleem and his narrative represent one of these possibilities.  Additionally, Saleem represents one of the author’s possibilities had he remained in Bombay.  He writes in “Imaginary Homelands,” “I knew that my India may only have been one to which I (who am no longer what I was, and who by quitting Bombay never became what perhaps I was meant to be) was, let us say, willing to admit I belonged” (10).  Through the narrative, Rushdie establishes his connection to his past and his belief that he has a legitimate claim to the place of his birth.

Rushdie is the successful native who left India for a Western education.  He gains notoriety through his writing in the West.  Frantz Fanon writes about the returning native intellectual about twenty years before Rushdie writes “Imaginary Homelands.”  Fanon writes:

The native intellectual who comes back to his people by way of cultural achievements behaves in fact like a foreigner.  Sometimes he has no hesitation in using a dialect in order to show his will to be as near as possible to the people; but the ideas that he expresses and the preoccupations he is taken up with have no common yardstick to measure the real situation which the men and the women of his country know (Fanon 41).

Rushdie is “the native intellectual who comes back to his people by way of cultural achievements.”  He illustrates the settings and people with cultural signifiers (e.g., the perforated sheet’s drops of blood and the description of Allah’s creation of man from drops of blood), but he is no longer part of that culture.  He also uses words, foods, and locations that are native to India.  Rushdie feels nostalgia for India and Bombay, the city in which he grew up.  He uses his memory to build a (possible) history of himself through Saleem and he does this from a room in North London (“Imaginary Homelands” 10).  Saleem and the other “super power” gifted Midnight’s children are far removed from the actuality of life of the Indian native.  Rushdie is unable “to measure the real situation which the men and the women of his country know” because he is no longer part of the continual dynamism of that country and culture (Fanon 41).

Rushdie builds suspicion in the narrator’s accuracy of recollection in Midnight’s Children because the author is an outsider to his native culture.  He gives the following explanation about why he did this in his essay, “Imaginary Homelands”:

This is why I made my narrator, Saleem, suspect in his narration, his mistakes are the mistakes of a fallible memory compounded by quirks of character and of circumstance, and his vision is fragmentary.  It may be that when the India writer who writes from outside India tries to reflect that world, he is obliged to deal in broken mirrors, some of whose fragments have been irretrievably lost (“Imaginary Homelands” 10-11).

The author cues the reader to Saleem’s suspect nature throughout the novel such as at the end of the book he writes, “Although already, already there are fadings, and gaps; it will be necessary to improvise on occasion” (Midnight’s Children 442).  Memory is selective and it can be edited for improvisation.  This is the nature of telling stories in general.  One may hear a joke and the individual embellishes it to make the joke “their own.”  Similarly, memories are already our own, but the individual adds their own flavor or perspective to their memories.  This is why Saleem has “the mistakes of a fallible memory compounded by quirks of character and of circumstance.”  Additionally, “his vision is fragmentary.”  This is a different analogy than saying that parts of his memory are lost.  When Rushdie writes, “he is obliged to deal in broken mirrors,” he means that memory within the mind reflects off these mirrors into the mind’s eye.  It is the mirrors that are broken and which “some…fragments have been irretrievably lost.”  When Saleem becomes buddha after being brained by the silver spittoon, his memories are still there, but he cannot access them.  This is an extreme example, but the point is that access to memories and the re-memory of memories may be incomplete, fuzzy, and embellished by the individual.  This process creates a space that is not really the past, but it is not really the present either.  It is a compromise between the two.

Saleem’s memory, however, is also selective.  There is a strong example where Saleem rejects what he sees because of the horror of the situation.  When he is called the “buddha” and he does not remember his past or his name, a fellow soldier, Shaheed, and he walk into the town of Dacca on December 14, 1971.  Saleem records:

Shaheed and I saw many things which were not true, which were not possible, because our boys would not could not have behaved so badly…we saw the intelligentsia of the city being massacred by the hundred, but it was not true because it could not have been true, the Tiger was a decent chap, after all, and our jawans were worth ten babus, we moved through the impossible hallucination of the night…Shaheed was staring at a maidan in which lady doctors were being bayoneted before they were raped, and raped again before they were shot…The notary public was absent, so I could not ask him to verify what was happening” (Midnight’s Children 432).

Saleem could not believe that his fellow Pakistani soldiers were capable of the killing and raping that was taking place.  He says, “it was not true because it could not have been true.”  Saleem’s disbelief is absurd because he records in graphic detail the “many things which were not true.”  Saleem reaches out for an objective source to verify the accuracy of what his eyes are reporting to him.  He notes, “the notary public was absent, so I could not ask him to verify what was happening.”  Rushdie purposely includes the emotive disbelief of Saleem as well as the remembrances of the events that he and Shaheed saw take place in the city of Dacca.  Saleem’s retelling of his memory is more accurate than his giving a non-commentary linked play-by-play list of events.  He is giving the reader a multi-track recording of his memory.  One track is his emotional disbelief of what was taking place.  Another track is what he actually saw (regardless of whether or not he believes it to have taken place).  These tracks are synced and played back for the reader in the text.

Saleem gives the following explanation for his giving the gory details in his narrative in Midnight’s Children:

Family history, of course, has its proper dietary laws.  One is supposed to swallow and digest only the permitted parts of it, the halal portions of the past, drained of their redness, their blood.  Unfortunately, this makes the stories less juicy; so I am about to become the first and only member of my family to flout the laws of halal.  Letting no blood escape from the body of the tale, I arrive at the unspeakable part; and, undaunted, press on (Midnight’s Children 62).

Rushdie does “flout the laws of halal” by relating stories of things that would normally not be permissible to write or talk about.  In this regard, he breaks with tradition so that he can more fully relate the story that he has to tell.  His disregard of halal however is not an attempt on his part to be all truthful or objective.  Saleem’s story is one that is based on memory and re-memory.  Over time, one forgets or remembers things from his or her past, but in doing so, one may embellish or slightly alter that memory (innocently or surreptitiously).  There is the sense that by Rushdie writing, “drained of their redness, their blood…makes the stories less juicy,” that he is taking part in sensationalism.  Thus, his motives for not draining the blood from his stories may not be merely one in which he is attempting to present an unbiased portrayal of the events of the narrative.  On the other hand, his giving greater detail (particularly graphic and focused details) gives Saleem a certain credibility that plays against his suspect narrative.

Expanding on his air of suspicion, Saleem, as narrator, makes an admission toward the end of the novel that he lied about Shiva’s death.  Saleem says, both to the reader as well as to Padma:

To tell the truth, I lied about Shiva’s death.  My first out-and-out lie…Padma, try and understand…I fell victim to the temptation of every autobiographer, to the illusion that since the past exists only in one’s memories and the words which strive vainly to encapsulate them, it is possible to create past events simply by saying they occurred (Midnight’s Children 510).

Rushdie puts in print the one issue that is at the core of autobiographical writing when he writes, “I fell victim to the temptation of every autobiographer…it is possible to create past events simply by saying they occurred.”  Additionally, after Saleem admits the lie about Shiva, he notes that available meteorological data contradicts the long midnight.  M. Keith Booker writes, “The net result is an evocation of the liar paradox, and the reader finds it impossible to reach any satisfactory conclusion as to what in the text is true and what is false.  Moreover, by tying his text so closely to history, Rushdie suggests that the authority of all our representations of the past may be somewhat questionable” (983).  Traditionally, eyewitness testimony and autobiography are believable, but Rushdie destabilizes the believability of the autobiographer as well as the history that is irretrievably linked to the identity of the narrator.  In writing an autobiography, the author claims that the narrative is based on his or her own life experiences.  Rushdie’s novel is more difficult to pin down because it is not a real autobiography.  It is an autobiography of a fictional character, but there are similarities between Saleem and Rushdie that further problematizes this issue.

Both Rushdie and Saleem were born in 1947.  Rushdie was born before India’s independence and Saleem was born at the exact moment of India’s independence.  Both author and narrator are from Bombay.  Rushdie comes from an affluent Muslim family in India, he traveled to England for his education, and he makes his home in the West.  Saleem (due to his switch with Shiva at birth) was raised in a Muslim, middle class home, received his education in India (which was not distinguished), and he lived most of his life in India, and a short while in Pakistan.  Rushdie has maintained a good life because of his notoriety and his writing.  Saleem began with a good start in life, but due to the upheavals that took place in India and Pakistan, he ended up in the slums that his archrival, Shiva, had ascended from.  Rushdie has lived most of his life away from India.  He writes in “Imaginary Homelands, “Writing my book in North London, looking out through my window on to a city scene totally unlike the ones I was imagining on to paper” (10).  Not only is his novel about memory and history, but it was written far away from the physical location of those memories and histories.  In addition, Saleem was biologically half-European and half-Indian.  His birth mother died and he was switched with Shiva so that he became part of the Sinai family.  Rushdie is the product of being born in Bombay and living in the West.  Rushdie, as postcolonial writer, links himself to India through Saleem.  The narrator is Rushdie’s manifestation of what could have been.

Rushdie and Saleem have similar, but also, different hybrid statuses.  The difference between the two is that Rushdie has become a Western intellectual while Saleem ends up writing, pickling, and remaining in India.  Rushdie’s “metropolitan hybridity is underwritten by the stable regime of Western secular identity and the authenticity that goes with it, whereas post-colonial hybridity has no such guarantees:  neither identity nor authenticity” (Radhakrishnan 755).  Rushdie’s hybridity allows him to establish his own identity within the West.  Saleem however represents “post-colonial hybridity” and he “has no such guarantees.”  How would Midnight’s Children been received if Rushdie had published it under the pseudonym of the novel’s narrator?  What if it had been published in Hindi?  These things would have significantly altered the reception of the novel in India and the West.

The autobiography novel that Rushdie constructs around the narrator, Saleem, is different from most Indian autobiographies.  According to Dipesh Chakrabarty:

Our autobiographies are remarkably “public” (with constructions of public life that are not necessarily modern) when written by men, and they tell the story of the extended family when written by women.  In any case, autobiographies in the confessional mode are notable for their absence (9).

Midnight’s Children clearly has a “confessional mode” in that Saleem is writing a narrative similar to that of Saint Augustine in his Confessions.  Saleem is laying out all of his stories and he questions himself and his memory.  His questioning and introspection work to construct his identity.  The Confessions is considered part of the core of Western literary tradition and this reflects in Rushdie’s work because he had an extensive Western education.  Additionally, Rushdie chooses to write this story about his native country in the language of its former colonizer, English.  Rushdie left his homeland to travel to the West for a Western education.  Rushdie is a hybrid postcolonial writer who has usurped the language and literary tradition of the colonizer in order to write “his” story about “his” India.

Rushdie writes Midnight’s Children out of a sense of nostalgia and he uses memory to reconnect him to a place and a time from early in his life.  Saleem makes this admission regarding why he has chosen to write down his story:

Please believe that I am falling apart…I mean quite simply that I have begun to crack all over like an old jug–that my poor body…buffeted by too much history…has started coming apart at the seams…This is why I have resolved to confide in paper, before I forget.  (We are a nation of forgetters) (Midnight’s Children 36).

Saleem continues on the next page, “Things–even people–have a way of leaking into each other…like flavors when you cook…the past has dripped into me…so we can’t ignore it” (Midnight’s Children 37).  The “[buffeting] by too much history” has led him “to confide in paper, before I forget.”  The waters of history are going to burst through Saleem’s cracks.  Rushdie’s novel is Saleem’s release.  His memories gush out onto the written page.  Saleem adds, in parentheses, “We are a nation of forgetters.”  Even though the narrative is primarily about Saleem’s trajectory through history, his life is linked to the hardships and atrocities that took place at the time of India’s independence and the subsequent Indian-Pakistani wars.  Additionally, power mongering by Indira Ghandi led to the undoing of the Midnight’s children because she could not be identified as embodying India when those born to symbolize India could usurp her position and power.  This fictional past with the Midnight’s children links to the atrocities that did take place during the wars following independence.  Rushdie, through Saleem, reminds the reader that there are histories and memories that are forgotten by a nation’s people.  Rushdie and Saleem have not forgotten and it is with Saleem’s narrative that these stories are presented to an (Western) audience.

Therefore, Salman Rushdie tries to bridge the gap between the past and memory.  There is not an absolute past for all observers in Rushdie’s Midnight’s Children.  He writes, “there were a thousand and one possibilities which had never been present in one place at one time before” (Midnight’s Children 230).  The author chooses Saleem from the “thousand and one possibilities” to be the writer of the fictional autobiography.  Saleem’s writing down his memories construct both his own identity along with the history of India.  Rushdie’s act of writing the novel reconnects himself with India through memory.  The narrative structure connects the individual with country and the individual’s memory with the country’s history.  Within Saleem’s narrative, Rushdie also shows there are a multiplicity of truths, voices, and histories which are all interconnected.  Saleem’s narrative is one of many perspectives, but within Saleem’s imagined life, Rushdie allows Saleem to give voice to those persons who have been a part of his life (e.g., Aadam Aziz, Padma, and Parvati the Witch).  Thus, Rushdie utilizes history and memory as the keys to building connections between the past and present as well as between self and country.

Works Cited

Booker, M. Keith.  “Beauty and the Beast:  Dualism as Despotism in the Fiction of Salman Rushdie.”  ELH, Vol. 57, No. 4 (Winter 1990):  977-997.

Chakrabarty, Dipesh.  “Postcoloniality and the Artifice of History:  Who Speaks for “Indian” Pasts?”  Representations, No. 37, Special Issue:  Imperial Fantasies and        Postcolonial Histories (Winter 1992):  1-26.

Fanon, Frantz.  “On National Culture.”  Colonial Discourse and Post-Colonial Theory:  A Reader.  New York:  Columbia University Press, 1994:  36-52.

Radhakrishnan, R..  “Postcoloniality and the Boundaries of Identity.”  Callaloo, Vol. 16, No. 4, On “Post-Colonial Discourse”:  A Special Issue (Autumn 1993):  750-771.

Rushdie, Salman.  “Imaginary Homelands.”  Imaginary Homelands.  New York:    Penguin, 1992:  9-21.

—.  Midnight’s Children.  New York:  Penguin Books, 1991.


Proposal

Jason W. Ellis

LCC 3316 Postcolonialism

Final Paper Proposal

My final paper will be a close analysis of Salman Rushdie’s Midnight’s Children (1980).  I will be arguing that Rushdie uses a nonlinear personal narrative to work through issues of voice and truth.  Rushdie writes Midnight’s Children from the point of view of the main character, Saleem Sinai, who is in turn writing his autobiography.  Rushdie and Saleem each have their own unique histories which play a part in the construction of this novel.  Saleem drifts between his present, his own past, and past events which he doesn’t have a direct experience of.  The narrative revolves around the point that Saleem was born at midnight at the birth of India’s independence (along with 1,000 other children).  There is a connection between Saleem and India as well as between Saleem and the other midnight children.  Saleem, however, is the narrator, and his choices and admissions reveal the fluidity of memory as well as the choices that one makes in remembering the past in a particular way.  Rushdie challenges the reader to reflect on why Saleem records the past in the way that he does and why is he the voice for the birth of a nation.  Additionally, Saleem uses the narrative to construct his own identity (through memory and layers of the self, community, nation, sex, race, and religion) which mirrors the emerging identity of India.

I have found two articles that I will use as starting points for my research.  The first is Dipesh Chakrabarty’s “Postcoloniality and the Artifice of History:  Who Speaks for “Indian” Pasts?”  (Representations, No. 37, Special Issue: Imperial Fantasies and Postcolonial Histories.  (Winter 1992):  1-26).  The second is R. Radhakrishnan’s “Postcoloniality and The Boundaries of Identity” (Callaloo, Vol. 16, No. 4, On “Post-Colonial Discourse”: A Special Issue. (Autumn 1993):  750-771).


Annotated Bibliography

Jason W. Ellis

LCC 3316 Postcolonialism

Final Paper Annotated Bibliography

Booker, M. Keith.  “Beauty and the Beast:  Dualism as Despotism in the Fiction of            Salman Rushdie.”  ELH, Vol. 57, No. 4 (Winter 1990):  977-997.

Keith writes about Rushdie’s use of dualism in his novels.  He notes that dualisms (e.g., good vs. bad, yin and yang) are not like real life because they do not contain the ambiguity present in the real world.  He begins with discussing Rushdie’s use of the game, Snakes and Ladders in Midnight’s Children as an illustration of dualism and its breakdown if applied to real world experiences.

Chakrabarty, Dipesh.  “Postcoloniality and the Artifice of History:  Who Speaks for          “Indian” Pasts?”  Representations, No. 37, Special Issue:  Imperial Fantasies and        Postcolonial Histories (Winter 1992):  1-26.

Chakrabarty is writing about the subalternity of India and its written history.  He argues that histories of colonized spaces such as India are inevitably histories of Europe.  The history of India is subject to the history of the west.  If this is the case, is there a one, true history of India, and if so, who has the authority to write it?

Prakash, Gyan.  “Writing Post-Orientalist Histories of the Third World:  Perspectives         from Indian Historiography.”  Comparative Studies in Society and History, Vol. 32, No. 2 (April 1990):  383-408.

Prakash attempts to “map the different positions occupied by India in the post-Orientalist historiographies” (384).  He writes that the third world consists of shifting positions of historical discourses such as “Orientalist, nationalist, Marxist, and other historiographies” (384).

Radhakrishnan, R..  “Postcoloniality and the Boundaries of Identity.”  Callaloo, Vol. 16, No. 4, On “Post-Colonial Discourse”:  A Special Issue (Autumn 1993):  750-771.

Radhakrishnan writes that hybridity is part-and-parcel of postcoloniality and that identity colors our perceptions and attitudes.  In addition, the representation of one’s identity and location (i.e., the elements of hybridity) give weight to the representation of truth in claims made by the author.


Outline

Jason W. Ellis

LCC 3316 Postcolonialism

Final Paper Outline

I.          Non-linear narrative, chained structure

A.        Rushdie writes Saleem writes memories retold

1.         Salman Rushdie and Saleem Sinai – similarities, differences, why                                        does Rushdie choose to write through Saleem?  why does he                                               mention his last name in the novel in a way that would be                                                      indicative of his “real” self?

B.        Events roughly follow chronological order, but Saleem’s memory fails                                 him, dates are wrong, events are interchanged, tells it as best he can

C.        Structure (3 books) and chapter titles, Saleem is telling a story that he is                              writing down, speaking with Padma which he also writes down, his                                    dreams in sickness are also written down

II.        Big Truths and little truths

A.        Memory (Saleem’s)

B.        Saleem’s narration, retelling, recalling from his memory, choosing what to                           include, what to tell, what to embellish

C.        Is there an ultimate truth?  Is one person’s truth/perspective valued over                              another’s?  Multiple realities, multiple possibilities.

III.       Building Saleem’s identity/India’s identity

A.        conflicts (e.g., Indira takes issue with the midnight’s children–she wants to                        be identified as India)

IV.       Voice (links to section I)

A.        Whose voice is represented here?

B.        Audience

I am a professor of English at the New York City College of Technology, CUNY whose teaching includes composition and technical communication, and research focuses on 20th/21st-century American culture, science fiction, neuroscience, and digital technology.

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Who is Dynamic Subspace?

Dr. Jason W. Ellis shares his interdisciplinary research and pedagogy on DynamicSubspace.net. Its focus includes the exploration of science, technology, and cultural issues through science fiction and neuroscientific approaches. It includes vintage computing, LEGO, and other wonderful things, too.

He is an Assistant Professor of English at the New York City College of Technology, CUNY (City Tech) where he teaches college writing, technical communication, and science fiction.

He holds a Ph.D. in English from Kent State University, M.A. in Science Fiction Studies from the University of Liverpool, and B.S. in Science, Technology, and Culture from Georgia Tech.

He welcomes questions, comments, and inquiries for collaboration via email at jellis at citytech dot cuny dot edu or Twitter @dynamicsubspace.

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