Analysis of an excerpt from Rushdie's "Midnight's Children" : Attempting to pray

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Analysis: Attempting to pray

In the excerpt from his novel “Midnight’s Children” which was written in 1981, Salman Rushdie, one of most famous British-Indian novelists and essayists, deals with the tensions which exist within the Indian society who are torn between the scientific, rational world-view on the one hand and the traditional on the other hand.

The extract of the histiographic metafictional novel begins with a short exposition describing the general atmosphere and introducing the main character. The plot takes place in the early spring of 1915, about 70 years after the first Anglo-Sikh War, in Srinagar, the capital of the Indian state Kashmir which in 1846 became a part of British-India.  Aadam Aziz, a Muslim and the grandfather of the first person narrator, hits his nose against a frost-hardened piece of earth while attempting to pray. His nose is bleeding and tears come out of his eyes but both are immediately justified which is illustrated by describing them as “rubies” (l.5) and “diamonds” (l.7). The atmosphere is rather cold and enigmatic so the reader is overcome by a feeling of anxiety. After Aziz has finished his prayer he surprisingly decides never to pray again for anybody who leaves him “vulnerable to women and history” (l.10) like the narrator comments. The reader, lacking any kind of information, is confused so suspense is created awakening the reader’s interest so that he wants to learn more by continuing the story.

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In the next paragraph the setting of the novel is described adding the sense of reality and three-dimensionality exemplifying the theme. It is the beginning of spring so the valley is getting its colours back: “The valley had beaked its way out into the open, moist and yellow” (l.17). The poetic description of the beginning of spring (“After a winter’s gestation in its eggshell” (l.15), creates an optimistic, humorous atmosphere symbolizing a feeling of rebirth and renewal. The narrator goes on by describing the beauty of Kashmir in the past but enumerating it “ex negativo” in a long asyndetic parallelism: ...

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