The Midnight’s Children Conference begins to fall apart. Many of the children are already beginning to go their separate ways, as they become increasingly affected by the religious, cultural, and class-based prejudices of their parents. Saleem and Shiva openly debate the merits of the conference. Saleem pleads for mutual tolerance and a sense of shared purpose, while Shiva mocks him as a naïve “little rich boy,” full of idealistic notions.

Saleem begins to visit the old, crazy Dr. Schaapsteker. From him, Saleem learns about snakes and how to watch for his enemies. With his new knowledge, Saleem plots his first attack against Homi Catrack and Lila Sabarmati to punish them for their illicit affair. He clips out letters from newspaper headlines that, once assembled, spell out “Commander Sabarmati Why Does Your Wife Go to Colaba Causeway on Sunday Morning?” He hides the note in the commander’s clothes.

Commander Sabarmati hires a detective to follow his wife. One Sunday, after receiving the investigator’s report, the commander checks out a revolver, finds Lila and Homi Catrack, and shoots them both. He manages to kill Homi Catrack and severely injure his wife. Afterward, he approaches a traffic cop and tries to turn himself in. The officer flees when he sees the gun, so Commander Sabarmati is left to direct the traffic until a squad of police officers arrives to arrest him. Ismail Ibrahim, the lawyer who once defended Ahmed, agrees to defend Commander Sabarmati, as well. The Commander becomes a national hero, and the first jury to hear his case acquits him. The judge, however, overturns the verdict. The special treatment has turned the public against him, and the president refuses to pardon him.

Amina never again goes to the Pioneer Café to see Qasim Khan. The residents of Methwold’s Estate begin selling their houses to Dr. Narlikar’s female relatives, who want to raze all the houses and build an enormous mansion for themselves. Ahmed, still angry over the tetrapods, refuses to sell. After everyone else has moved off of Methwold’s Estate, Saleem sits in the yard playing with a small globe. The Brass Monkey comes outside and crushes the globe with her feet. Saleem speculates that perhaps she did so because she missed Sonny Ibrahim, her long-time admirer.

Analysis

Midnight’s Children represents an attempt by both Rushdie and Saleem to write a new history of India, one that takes all facets of the great nation into account. The hyphenated terms Saleem generates to describe his relationship with India suggest that there are multiple, varied, and equally legitimate ways in which to experience—and, therefore, write—history. These new, hyphenated definitions reflect Saleem’s intention to redefine national history according to his own personal narrative. In order to succeed, Saleem must bend and reshape language. Words get jammed together, just as the details of Saleem’s life are jammed into the political history of India. By redefining language, Saleem redefines reality. The old, formal conventions of narrative can’t sufficiently convey this new story, so Saleem breaks those conventions, playfully violating the rules of time, space, and language.

The themes of nostalgia and lost innocence run throughout these two chapters, triggered by the shocking discovery that Saleem cannot be Ahmed and Amina’s biological son. The exile that follows Saleem’s hospital stay bears a painful resemblance to his first days in Methwold’s Estate, when his mother reluctantly shared the newborn Saleem out of a sense of pride and love. Now, Saleem’s parents have banished him from their home, sending him to live with his aunt and uncle out of a sense of shame and confusion. The revelation about Saleem’s true parentage represents a major shifting point in this family’s history, one from which they can never return.