Study Guide

Midnight's Children Chapter 23

By Salman Rushdie

Chapter 23

How Saleem Achieved Purity

  • Before the Reverend Mother moved to Pakistan, Aadam Aziz died, like we told you. She doesn't mourn him at all, though. Instead she just starts a gas station with Pia.
  • People come from all around to go to this gas station because a) Pia is pretty, and b) Naseem is a very good listener.
  • Saleem is still in love with Jamila. Aunt Alia is still horrible and jealous. And now she is taking her revenge. She loves cooking, and by cooking she slowly makes everyone in the family go crazy.
  • For Amina, getting pregnant again after seventeen years is the last straw. Alia tells her something that makes her worry constantly about the new baby.
  • With her worrying, Ahmed doesn't get her love anymore and he starts falling apart as well. The only person who isn't affected is Jamila, since she's out all the time.
  • You should probably know that the novel gets significantly sadder from here on out.
  • Remember Zafar? Now he's in the military. A lieutenant even! But he still pees his pants. Anyway, he's sent to occupy the Rann of Kuch, a piece of land that both Pakistan and India want.
  • Things are kinda strange there.
  • There are mermaids, ghosts, and other strange spirits everywhere. So many that the other troops who were there before ran away. Finally, a group of smugglers (that they thought were ghosts) comes and asks why they are at their post. They should've been bribed to run away.
  • When Zafar figures out that his dad is behind this, he slits his throat. His dad dies, he goes to jail, and aunt Emerald moves to England.
  • The day after the conflict is over, Ahmed Sinai has a stroke that returns him to childhood. Amina, meanwhile, is getting more and more pregnant, and going more and more crazy. It's the beginning of the end.
  • Saleem believes that the Indo Pakistani war of 1965 only happened to kill his family. It starts, and things go crazy. Saleem doesn't know what's true and what isn't, because nothing seems to make very much sense.
  • People are dying en masse and heralded as martyrs. Both sides are spewing propaganda.
  • And then there are bombs. Only a few, but enough. They kill Naseem Aziz, Pia, Zafar, Emerald, the Prince and his daughter, Uncle Puffs and his daughters, Mutasim (who is really killed by a sniper in the front lines), Zohra, Alia, Ahmed Sinai, and finally Amina Sinai.
  • That's almost everyone. Saleem's whole family gone in a flash.
  • We don't want to seem cruel, but every cloud has a silver lining. Saleem only knows that his family is dead for a few moments before he loses his memory from a hit to the head with a silver spittoon.
  • On September 23, the war is officially over.