Study Guide

Midnight's Children Chapter 18

By Salman Rushdie

Chapter 18

Commander Sabarmati's Baton

  • Back at home, the ghost of Joseph D' Costa is looking pretty ratty, and soon Mary will tell her secret.
  • Brass Monkey has become the favorite child, surprising both herself and Saleem. Even though she picks up Christianity to get back in the doghouse, it doesn't work.
  • The Midnight's Children are also falling apart. They are distracted by their own lives and influenced by their parents' prejudices. People start leaving altogether, like Shiva. Soon enough, Saleem doesn't even try to talk to them anymore.
  • Amidst all this trouble, Saleem goes to the snake doctor, Dr. Schaapsteker, to learn about the snake within himself. (Hey, he said it, not us!)
  • We're not sure what's gotten into Saleem, but he is really serious about revenge now. He's even making one of those newspaper cutout ransom notes. It tells Lia Sabartami's (Homi Catrack's new girlfriend) husband that she's up to something unusual every Sunday morning.
  • That Sunday Commander Sabartami shoots and kills his wife and her lover. Then, because the policeman ran away when he approached them, he directs traffic for 10 minutes.
  • The nation goes wild over the case. They cover it like a tabloid would cover Ben Affleck's latest love interest. Commander Sabartami is put into Navy jail.
  • He was next in line to get promoted, though, and a man with a criminal record can't get a high rank in the Navy so the Navy wants to get him off the hook. Stranger things have happened.
  • At first it works and the jury says not guilty. But the judge overrules them. Guilty as charged. The case goes all the way to the President of India, but the answer remains the same: guilty.
  • The case was enough to scare Amina, and she breaks things off with Nadir Khan. But there are consequences. She gets old before her time. There are other consequences to Saleem's revenge. Almost everyone moves out because the disaster ruined so many lives.
  • The only people left are Saleem's family.