Death in Disunity Essay

Submitted By Takashi-Yanagi
Words: 1293
Pages: 6

Death in Disunity

As the second novel of Salman Rushdie and the winner of the Booker Prize in 1981, Midnight’s Children is a historical fiction that incorporates magical realism to depict India’s past. Saleem, the main protagonist, tells a fantastical story of his life and ancestors starting with his birth on midnight of India’s independence from British rule to his death where he disintegrates into million specks of dust particles. In doing so, Saleem recounts tales after tales of unusual events that occur to his family and himself during India’s rise as an independent nation and its fall in the Indo-Pakistani War of 1965 and manages to imitate the style of One Thousand and One Nights. With the usage of separate stories on separate pages ultimately culminating to tell a grander story, Salman Rushdie uniquely incorporates fragmentation to convey his message to readers. Like scattered pieces to a puzzle, the meaning is muddled at first but is made clearer once the story progresses and more details are made known. His implication is one that seems humorous and lighthearted on the surface but is bleak when looked deep down at the core. Rushdie uses the motif of fragmentation to display the instabilities of life and the conflicts within humanity and society. Saleem’s unique situation presents a life of brokenness and imbalance that ultimately leads to his death. Already on the first pages, Saleem alludes to his macabre final days on earth: “Now, however, time (having no further use for me) is running out…I have no hope of saving my life, nor can I count on having even a thousand nights and a night” (3,4). He explains his predicament where his physical body is literally falling apart and disintegrating before his eyes and so he must finish his life story before his final end. The fragmentation of his anatomy creates a carcass for his story to develop only to find it conclude with his death. Additionally, this characteristic is enhanced with Saleem’s storytelling techniques because of his fragmented tale between the past and the present, switching back and forth and intermixing until mistakes are made on his part: “But now Padma says, mildly, “What date was it?” And without thinking, I answer: “Some time in the spring.” And then it occurs to me that I have made another error – that the election of 1957 took place before, and not after, my tenth birthday” (254). As his story progresses and more mistakes are made, it begins to have a physical and mental toll on his body and mindset. “But today, I feel confused…I have found myself failing to distinguish lemon-odors from lime…The cracks are spreading all over me, radiating like a spider’s web from my navel…(189). Ultimately, the price of his fragmentation is an inevitable death looming behind him and getting closer and closer with each story, with each day, and with each movement of the ticking clock until its imminence becomes an unavoidable reality. “I am the bomb in Bombay, watch me explode, of bones falling down…at last somewhere the striking of a clock release…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” (533). Readers feel the gravity of his situation when he disintegrates from this earth never to be seen again. Another example of separateness Salman Rushdie uses are the plagues of conflicts in and around India. They have led to senseless war, dehumanizing violence, and unnecessary death and unrest among the people. One was over Kashmir during the Indo – Pakistani War of 1947. Even though India gained its freeing independence from British rule, they still wanted more. Greed overtook the heart of the Indian government causing them to desire more land and property in the northern area of Kashmir and influencing them to take whatever action necessary to achieve that goal. Pakistan also felt the same way because “it would not be long before the dream of Kashmir