Study Guide

Midnight's Children Chapter 16

By Salman Rushdie

Chapter 16

Alpha and Omega

  • Saleem goes on for a while about why he named this chapter "Alpha and Omega." But then Padma wants to know what happened to Evie. (Thanks for keeping Saleem on track, Padma.)
  • After Saleem and Shiva's conversation, someone blows up Bombay's water supply. With no freshwater, cats start congregating in the rich parts of town that have their own reservoirs—places like Methwold Estate. Soon they become overrun with cats, and Evie is called to scare them away.
  • Brass Monkey decides to finally get payback for the way Evie dissed Saleem earlier and beats her up so badly that her braces break.
  • With the Midnight's Children, Saleem has learned how to broadcast other people's thoughts. He's kind of like a human chat board. At the next Midnight's Children meeting, they vote on a leader, choosing between Shiva and Saleem. Saleem wins. What do they do now? That's a good question. They don't know either. They talk about abstract things like destiny, history, and politics, but these topics are little too heavy for 10-year-olds. Even supernatural ones.
  • Let's move on to something more concrete: Mr. Emil Zagallo, Saleem's geography and gymnastics teacher. He pretends to be Peruvian even though he's just the child of a British and an Indian person. He hates his students so much that he physically abuses them.
  • When Saleem upsets him one day, he rips Saleem's hair out by the roots so that the boy looks like a bald monk. Mr. Zagallo is fired after that.
  • It's the day of the dance and Saleem is sitting on the sidelines feeling sorry for himself and his premature bald spot. Then Masha Miovic, one of Brass Monkey's friends, decides to talk to and hang out with him.
  • Everything's going good until two guys decide to ruin it. They start making fun of Saleem and telling Masha that the injury on his scalp was not a war wound, but the result of an overzealous teacher. He knees one of them in the groin but they cut off his fingers when he runs away from them.
  • Believe it or not, this is where the real trouble begins. At the hospital Amina and Ahmed learn that Saleem could not be their biological child. He's not the right blood type.