Midnight's Children is definitely a time warp. Forget Universal Studios and Back to the Future, this is the real Time Machine. Time goes forwards and backwards, up and down, slantways and sideways. The story only follows the linear narrative for moments at a time. At the same time, the characters are inescapably bound by time. Their lives are intimately connected to it, and even when they try to escape, they can't. That leaves us with a question: If time is so flexible, how can it be so constraining? Well that's up to you to answer, because Midnight's Children isn't giving any hints.
In Midnight's Children, time is inescapable. It controls everyone.
Time is extremely flexible in Midnight's Children. It can go forward, backward, speed up, and slow down.
Truth in Midnight's Children is not the truth that you're thinking about. It's not the sort of thing they're asking you for when you stand up in front of a judge with your hand swearing to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. If Saleem ever tried that, we are pretty sure he'd end up in jail. Truth in this novel is more about feeling, about memories, about what should be right even if it's not. That might not stand up in court, but it sure is an interesting way of viewing the world.
It doesn't really matter what's true and what's not in Midnight's Children.
Truth does exist in Midnight's Children, but it's not based on facts, it's based on feelings.
So what is this fatalism stuff anyway? Fatalism is a philosophical viewpoint that believes that things are inevitable and it makes no sense to resist. Fatalists believe that all of your actions are predetermined, and even if they aren't, all actions lead toward a predetermined end. Sounds like some depressing stuff, huh? Throughout Midnight's Children we are told that characters will die, and that things are inevitable. But we are also presented with alternatives and different futures. Saleem sure seems invested in telling us that there is no way to change the future, but we're not so sure that he's right in the end.
No matter how much you try to fight fate in Midnight's Children, you can't escape it.
Everyone in the novel might say that fate is inevitable, but the truth is that it's incredibly malleable.
It makes sense that writing is an important part of Midnight's Children. The story is the written autobiography of the main character, after all. You can't have books without writing, can you? Even though Saleem literally creates himself and his own India through writing, most of the characters are not literary people. It's word-of-mouth versus pen and paper, and for almost everyone else beside Saleem, the mouth always wins.
In Midnight's Children, the written word is all fine and dandy, but the spoken word is better.
The characters of the novel are literally made up of letters.
Ever notice how people don't tend to like foreigners? Not us of course, or else who would we practice our foreign languages with? But many other people think that foreigners are weird. They're different. They eat strange food. They talk funny. So they ostracize them.
The characters in Midnight's Children are no different. When Adam Aziz comes back smelling of Germany's foreignness, he's ostracized in a matter of months. We guess these things are genetic, because it seems like all of his children have problems with being weird. Even though we learn at first that being different is a bad thing, Saleem tries to turn being strange into a force for good and change. He's not too successful, but at least he tried.
Otherness is a bad thing in Midnight's Children.
Otherness is actually awesome in this novel, because it means that you're special.
Ah, the gentler sex. They need to be protected by big strong men, and by religious rules so that those big strong men won't defile them. Or not. Even the women who believe in tradition in Midnight's Children are not very good at following it. They work when they aren't supposed to, they save people who they shouldn't even be speaking to, and they expose their faces and feet when they aren't supposed to. Some might also say that they are the most powerful characters in the novel. The Widow certainly has the most lasting impact, but we won't spoil the ending for you.
Women in Midnight's Children are delicate and must be protected from the outside world by religious rules and regulations.
Women in the novel are strong and would rather break religious rules than follow them.
You thought you knew everything about sex—some orifice does something with some other body part, bada bing bada boom. But in Midnight's Children, sex is more than just that. It's hopes, dreams, and even the powers of ancient Hindu gods. Let's get this straight: Sex is a big deal and birth control isn't just a walk down the street to your local gynecologist in this novel. It's life or death.
Sex is just physical in Midnight's Children.
Sex is physical, metaphorical, religious, and all other kinds of things in the novel.
What is a family? Two grownups get together and have a kid. Maybe they aren't married. Maybe the kid is adopted. There are so many options that we could spend all day listing them. Families have gotten pretty non-traditional nowadays, but not as non-traditional as in Midnight's Children. Here children get switched at birth, parents are created by the children, and genealogies are the product of drunken reverie. It's safe to say that the idea of family is pretty malleable in the novel, but that doesn't make it any less important to the characters.
Family is not very important in Midnight's Children.
Even though family can change, grow, or shrink, family is still very important to the characters in the novel.