Whose history, which narrator?

Whose history, which narrator?

Length: 1096 words (3.1 double-spaced pages)

Rating: Excellent

Open Document

Essay Preview

More ↓
Whose history, which narrator?

Salman Rushdie’s Midnight’s Children can be read, inter alia, as the unfolding of the twentieth-century India’s history. There is in the novel, virtually all of the twentieth century Indian history: the Jallianwalla Buch tragedy, Quit India movement, Cabinet Mission, freedom movement, Muslim League and its role, riots and bloodshed subsequent to the independence, Five Years Plans, reorganization of Indian states and language riots, Chinese aggression, the theft of the sacred relic from the Hazratbal mosque, Pakistan War, liberation of Bangladesh, the Emergency, the military coup in Pakistan in 1958, and various other historically important events. There are also typically Indian divisions and dissents, chaos and disillusion, communal tensions, religious fanaticism besides traditional values and modernizing efforts.

One aspect Rushdie places emphasis on, is the close link between the history of India and the history of Saleem’s family. In the end, the former can be read as a family album. Saleem’s uncle, Zulfikar, is a Pakistani general who helps General Ayub Khan to plan the military takeover of 1958; his aunt is a mistress of Homi Catrak, who is shot by the husband of Lila Sabarmati, another of his mistresses (Commander and Mrs. Nanavati in real life); his classmate Cyrus Dubash becomes the founder of a religious cult that seems to be an amalgam of Guru Maharaj and Hatha-yogi Lakshman Rao who claimed he could walk on water; Saleem himself triggers off one of the worst language riots in Bombay; his mother was first married to Shcikh Abdullah’s right-hand man; the disappearance of the Prophet’s Hair is linked to his grandfather. In addition, Saleem belongs to an extremely peculiar group of 1,001 children born within the very first hour of India’s independence, on the 15th of August 1947, and capable of performing paranormal phenomena. Saleem, thus becomes an authentic representative of India, he is India.

Rushdie is convinced that there is a connection between public affairs and private lives. They interpenetrate and that is how the writer needs to examine them, the one in the context of the other. In the light of this consideration we can read the passage in which Saleem declares:

Who what am I? My answer: I am the sum total of everything that went before me, of all I have seen done, of everything done-to-me. I am everyone everything whose being-in-the-world affected was affected by mine. I am anything that happens after I’ve gone which would not have happened if I had not come.

How to Cite this Page

MLA Citation:
"Whose history, which narrator?." 123HelpMe.com. 27 Feb 2020
    <https://www.123helpme.com/view.asp?id=38752>.

Need Writing Help?

Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.

Check your paper »

Essay on The Omniscient Narrator in Toni Morrison's Jazz

-   In her sixth novel Jazz, Toni Morrison "makes use of an unusual storytelling device: an unnamed, intrusive, and unreliable narrator" ("Toni Morrison" 13).  From the onset of the novel, many readers question the reliability of the narrator due to the fact that this "person" seems to know too many intimate personal details, inner thoughts, and the history of so many characters.  Although as readers we understand an omniscient narrator to be someone intimately close with the character(s), the narrator of Jazz is intrusive, moving in and out of far too many of the characters' lives to be reliable.  No one person could possibly know and give as much information as this narrator does. ...   [tags: Toni Morrison, Jazz Essays]

Research Papers
2133 words (6.1 pages)

Narrator's Role in Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby and Kerouac's On The Road

- Narrator's Role in Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby and Kerouac's On The Road Over the last fifty years, since the release of On The Road in 1957, it has not been uncommon for critics to draw parallels between Kerouac’s semi-autobiographical novel and Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby, released thirty-two years previously. It is for certain that both the novels share many similar traits, both examine concepts of American ideals and The American Dream, both are heavily influenced by the jazz age of the time, but nothing binds the novels closer to one another than the authors’ use of the first person narrative and that narrators relationship with their leading character....   [tags: Gatsby Road Kerouac Fitzgerald Essays]

Research Papers
1258 words (3.6 pages)

History as the Key to Unlock the Future in Omeros:Philoctete’s Healing, Achille’s Completion, and the Narrator’s Inspiration

- History as the Key to Unlock the Future in Omeros:Philoctete’s Healing, Achille’s Completion, and the Narrator’s Inspiration “Time is the metre, memory the only plot” (129) Derek Walcott forced the literary world to disagree with him when he denied that Omeros was an epic. Some critics suggest that, like his narrator, Walcott is not sure where his work belongs. Others suggest that Walcott denies its obvious genre in order to avoid being categorized. Regardless, Derek Walcott repeatedly says that the purpose of his writing is to wrestle with the duality within himself and that of the Caribbean islands, specifically St....   [tags: Omeros]

Free Essays
1473 words (4.2 pages)

Essay on Analysis Of Lusus Laturae By Margaret Atwood

- This fictional story, Lusus Laturae, is written by Margaret Atwood. According to Merriam-Webster dictionary, the origin of the Lusus Naturae is from Latin and the meaning is “freak of nature.” That is direct enough to assume the story is about a monster figure that will be a symbol of the story. According to the book “Freak of Nature,” the history of freak of nature to scientists and philosophers is an unfortunate, grotesque creature because it is odd or abnormal such as a conjoined twin which has two heads and shared a body (Blumberg 5)....   [tags: Narrative, Fiction, Conflict, Narrator]

Research Papers
1309 words (3.7 pages)

The History and Heritage of Society Essay

- ... Having a full understanding of these dangers may assist those working in the CRM field avoid problems associated with dissonant heritage. Nevertheless, for this paper, I am concerned with the postmodernist or post-processualist backgrounds in archaeological heritage theory. More specifically the evaluation of historicity or historical authenticity and the commodification of the past as a high order consumer good all of which are byproducts or passive results of modernist production, and are increasingly central and active elements and in whatever new system is emerging....   [tags: inherit, resources, power, knowledge]

Research Papers
1687 words (4.8 pages)

I Work At The Regatta Grille Essay

- I work at the Regatta Grille that is located in the Kings Pointe Resort. I spend many hours of the week working, so many of my life experiences happen here. I am able to do all the roles at work including waitressing, bartending, hosting, and I am also a supervisor. I recently got promoted to supervisor, so now I spend even more time at work. At work there are constantly new employees considering many of our employees are college and high school students they often don’t stick around for long. I live here in town, so I keep my job all year round....   [tags: Narrative, Narrator, Narrative mode, Religion]

Research Papers
1482 words (4.2 pages)

Essay about Subjective Narrator: The Tell Tale Heart by Edgar A. Poe

- The narrator in The Tell-Tale Heart uses a simple language to tell a simple story, which convinces the reader that he is indeed mad. In an ideal situation, one would expect the narrator to protest about his innocence to detach his conscience from the heinous crime. However, the narrator tries to seek empathy from the reader through his protestations that diverts the reader’s attention from the crime to start wondering about his insanity. As the monologue progress, the reader is confused whether the narrator is indeed putting up a show or he is indeed mad because he too does not seem to be totally convinced that he indeed insane....   [tags: sanity, narrator, antagonist]

Research Papers
1070 words (3.1 pages)

Assia Djebar’s, Fantasia: Women’s Presence in History Essay

- Assia Djebar believed that the process of Western acculturation excluded her from most if not all aspects of the traditional women’s world. This resulted in her mastery of the French language and access to public space. This view of exclusion led Djebar to her Algerian Quartet, which is a writing project to reestablish links with the maternal world, which she felt distanced from, but in fact never lost. They are all polyphonic texts that combine personal and collective memory. In these texts Djebar adds her own voice to those of her maternal ancestors, both historical and legendary....   [tags: Assia Djebar, Fantasia]

Free Essays
1242 words (3.5 pages)

Brian Clark's Play Whose Life Is It Anyway? Essay

- Brian Clark's Play "Whose Life Is It Anyway?" The play "Whose Life Is It Anyway" by Brian Clark was made into a stage play and film. The television play was made in 1972 and the stage plays in 1978. In the play,” written by Brian Clarke, the intense argument of committing Voluntary Euthanasia is discussed. The main point of the play, Ken Harrison, once an imaginative, devoted sculptor, is involved in a terrible car crash. Following a long operation, Ken is paralyzed from the neck down; he is informed that he may never be able to move his body ever again....   [tags: Brian Clark Whose Life Anyway Essays]

Research Papers
1253 words (3.6 pages)

US History Essay examples

- Even before the eve of the Revolution, the colonists constantly had the image of independence lingering in the back of their heads. The colonists felt that they were first on a loose leash, and as that leash tightened over the years, the colonists began to understand their true culture and identity. As time passed, the colonists developed a greater sense of their identity and unity as Americans and by the eve of the Revolution, even though at first the colonists were unorganized and had problems with being united, they remained determined to gain their identity and unity as Americans....   [tags: essays research papers]

Free Essays
1090 words (3.1 pages)

Related Searches

Nor am I particularly exceptional in this matter; each "I", every one of the now-six-hundred-million-plus of us, contains a similar multitude. I repeat for the last time: to understand me, you’ll have to swallow a world. (p. 370)

If then, this is the way, to Rushdie’s view, the historical process should be conceived, what does he do with his narrative? Does he use history to serve any political purpose? If yes, which purpose? To start with, we do not hear in the novel only Saleem’s version of history, his interpretation of it. We indirectly hear some others too. Price in his dealing with the same questions offers a suggestive analysis. He reads the novel along with Nietzsche’s essay Untimely Meditation where three modes of history are specified: the antiquarian, the monumental and the critical. These modes are practiced by three characters in the novel. William Methwold employs a form of antiquarian history; the Widow is a proponent of monumental history; and Saleem Sinai is a critical historian. Nietzsche believes that each of the three modes of history belongs to a certain soil and only to that; in any other it grows into a devastating weed. In his novel, Rushdie depicts both the antiquarian and the monumental modes as devastating weeds. In India only the third mode, critical history, appears to have the potential to contribute to life. Midnight’s Children records Saleem’s struggle to present his critical history as a counter-narrative to, and a critical commentary on the "official" history of Indira Gandhi’s government and the nostalgic histories of apologists for British imperialism. William Methwold is an antiquarian historian as well as a representative of the white colonizer. He expresses the desire to preserve for those who shall come into existence after him the conditions under which he himself came into existence. He sells his estate to upper-class Indian families on condition "that the houses be bought complete with every last thing in them, that the entire contents be retained by the new owners; and that the actual transfer should not take place until midnight on August 15th." (p. 95) Meanwhile, Methwold has set out to "educate" his successors. His goal is clear and straightforward: to teach the rich Indians how to rule over a multitudinous Indian society, to preserve the very structure, ideology of an authoritarian society to which he himself belongs. And Rushdie does not fail to alarm us: "…so they have all failed to notice what is happening: the Estate, Methwold’s Estate, is changing them… and Methwold, supervising their transformation, is mumbling under his breath. Listen carefully: what’s he saying? Yes, that’s it. "Sabkuch ticktock hai", mumbles William Methwold. All is well." (p. 99) Methwold views the British as the quintessentially civilizing influence on the Indian subcontinent. He is unable to acknowledge the existence of any culture other than his own. Everything in the estate, architecture, the names of the buildings signal simultaneously a desire to superimpose historical European paradigms on the Indian landscape and consciousness.

Rushdie also strongly criticizes the Widow-Indira Gandhi, that is the monumental mode of history, and her Emergency policy in 1975, which led to brutal violations of human rights in India. Saleem’s narrative is one way of denying the official, politician’s version of truth. It expresses the "new myth of freedom", it is an action of resistance. At the same time it is the search for the validity of the Indo-British legacy in modern India, where, as in all developing countries which have emerged from their colonial past, economics, religion and culture are all consumed by the great maw of politics. The novel poses the problem of culture and identity in terms of politics and morality, leading Saleem to seek his identity in terms of connections and places outside the chronological framework of Indo-British history, in the primeval time of India’s villages.

Useful Links:

www.trill-home.com

http://encarta.msn.com

Acknowledgements

The first image is a painting by Major Edward Molyneaux The Banks of the Ganges at Benares, London, ca. 1890. The second image is a map of Bombay drawn in 1846. Both images are taken from the www.trill-home.com web site.
Return to 123HelpMe.com