Midnight’s Children: Breaking Silence

“Three years of words poured out of her (but he body, stretched by the exigencies of storing them, did not diminish). My grandfather stood very still by the Telefunken as the storm broke over him. Whose idea had it been? Whose crazy fool scheme, whatsitsname, to let this coward who wasn’t even a man into the house?… Who had put his daughter into that scoundrel’s whatsitsname, yes, the white-haired weakling who had permitted this iniquitous marriage” (p. 64)?

It is at this point in the book where the reader sees Saleem reveals what is behind the facade of Aziz and Naseem’s marriage.  After three years of silence, Naseem breaks it after finding out that after two years of marriage, her daughter remains a virgin. In this passage, Naseem shows intense emotion to her husband by calling him a, “fool.” Naseem is expressing her disproval in Aziz’s actions by allowing Nadir Khan to live secretly in their home and allow his own daughter to marry such a man.  Saleem describes this moment as a, “storm.” The connotation of a storm could be something this is impending and when the right moment comes, chaos ensues. Perhaps starting off slowly and gradually, but then building faster and more intense waves of emotion.

A connection is made between the storm that Naseem pours on her husband and the atomic bomb that America drops on Japan on this very day.  Parallels can be drawn from this event happening to the storm that is said to break over them when Naseem speaks for the first time. The atomic bomb being dropped in Japan was America’s response to the Japanese bombing pearl harbor; perhaps Naseem’s explosion was from her husband’s acts of secrecy and her thoughts that her husband was a bad father? The “iniquitous marriage” that Mumtaz and Nadir had is sinful and unjust as seen by Naseem; many people view American’s in a negative light for dropping the atomic bomb on Japan as well.

The connections that we are able to make between themes in the book and the world events are significant and help us to better understand the intention of Saleem’s story telling and add context to the information he shares with us.

6 thoughts on “Midnight’s Children: Breaking Silence

  1. Shannon Thornhill

    I think it is very important to see the connections between the world events and the events that are taking place in the book. I think that by Saleem putting in the fact about the Atomic bomb made us think of the situation differently. When Naseem breaks her silence this is a big moment in her life and she is truly upset and disgusted at her husband for allowing this man to be in their home. Saleem could be comparing how upset she was to the atomic bomb dropping. That these two events occurred on the same day to amplify how mad and how important this issue was to Naseem. Or on the other hand Saleem could be showing us that this issue is a big deal to Naseem but on a larger scale the atomic bomb was dropped that affected millions of lives and that her problem in the grand scheme was not going to impact the rest of the world.

  2. sarahl

    The brief comparison between the atomic bomb and Naseem’s “storm of words” makes me think of some larger ideas / themes that can both be related to the book as well as life in general. While Shannon is correct that the atomic bomb affected a large population and Naseem’s situation was only an issue to those directly involved, this comparison makes me think about the microscopic world and the parallels to the macroscopic world. At one point in the semester we compared a city as a whole to the “stomach”, “mind”, and “spirit” of an individual. In the context of this novel, it may be a stretch to compare the anger Naseem felt towards her husband to the atomic bomb in the way that we generally compared the city to an individual, but I immediately thought of the discussion we had when reading Plato’s Republic.

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