Thursday, October 6, 2011

What the sheet, Rushdie?

I am working with the idea that Rushdie is creating his novel in a format that mimics the ever important sheet.  The “large white bedsheet with a roughly circular hole some seven inches in diameter cut into the center…(stained too, with three drops of old, faded redness.)” (4).   Aadam is only allowed to see his future wife Naseem seven inches at a time, an elbow here, a slightly blushing buttock there, which in time allows him to create an entire woman.  Midnight’s Children is our sheet, the plot being Naseem’s  “shy, but compliant” (23) buttock . We get tantalizing glimpses of the whole picture, piece by piece, Tai, the stinky, ageless, boat man, or Padma, the woman named after the goddess of dung.  Each of these characters, or body parts, works to further us toward the ultimate unveiling.  Just as Aadam revels in the torture and ecstasy of his minute glimpses of Naseem, we, the reader mimic his feelings of frustration and pleasure in the small, slow, circular plot revelations.  The reader may come to be irritated with the novel, just as Naseem becomes an irritant to Aadam, but one still has to grudgingly respect the Reverend Mother for her power and creativity.   


  1. I like it! So are we, like Aadam, set up to fall out of love with the novel?

    Also, why the sheet? Why only a bit at a time? How is that different from the traditional novel?

  2. The sheet is definitely key to this novel. Not only does the sheet create the very past Saleem tells of, but it is the way in which he tells his very past. As readers we only see the bits and pieces and have to put them together to make the best of a whole as we can. Like Padma I have gotten annoyed with anticipation more than once while Saleem moves the perforated hole slowly round his life. There is almost a sheet effect! Little by little Adam Aziz and Naheem piece together love, and than at the climax, turn around do digress in the same way. Amina puts up an imaginary sheet of her own to learn to love piece by piece her new husband Ahmed. Again this seems to have the same negative backtracking issue as her parents went through. So noticing the novel itself having a sheet effect makes me wonder. Are we being given clues so obvious that our own noses should itch? Or are we supposed to be infected with the Indian optimism? Maybe the author has made it too hard for us to pick just one or the other. That this was done to show us just how hard it is for our characters to find what side they belong. ?????

  3. The novel is the sheet! We fall in love with everyone in bits, but then we (much like Aadam) aren't quite sure if we can handle the big novel we get as a result.