A Sense of Nation: Salman Rushdie’s Synesthetic Portrayal of Postcolonial India in Midnight’s Children



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This paper analyzes how Salman Rushdie’s novel Midnight’s Children creates a synesthetic narrative that parallels a diverse nation’s attempt to find a national postcolonial identity, one that embraces cultural hybridity. With Rushdie’s use of synesthesia in mind, I analyze the novel with the five senses as the main guiding points. In Chapter One I consider the ways in which Rushdie uses smell and taste to stand in for or compliment spoken and written narratives (sound). Using research on olfactory emotion associations, I argue that food may remind Indians of their forgotten history where words cannot. Taking a more theoretical approach, Chapter Two examines the role of film in Midnight’s Children. Through his narrator Saleem Sinai and the novel form, Rushdie achieves the social realism for which New Indian cinema strove, as opposed to the passive viewership of popular Bombay melodramas. Just as synesthesia does not use a single sense, there is no homogenized Indian identity. I argue, as does Rushdie, India is its diversity (what he calls its “multitudes”).



Salman Rushdie, Midnight's Children, Postcolonialism, hybridity, synesthesia, India's Independence


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