I have decided to post some general and in-depth discussion questions so that you could keep a look out for various characters and literary prose in the novel and explore how you feel about them (page numbers are guidance only). Some questions we may not be able to talk about it now until we have finished the book but that’s alright, because I haven’t got a clue as much as you are since we are reading this along together!
You may choose to discuss some or all of the questions.
10 STARTING POINTS FOR YOUR DISCUSSION
- Saleem describes himself as ‘handcuffed to history’. What do you think that this means, and do you think that this is true of him?
- The prose of Midnight’s Children has a distinctly filmic quality. Why do you think this is, and what would be the implications of making a film of the novel?
- Unlike many novels, Midnight’s Children is not written using a linear narrative. Why do you think that Rushdie uses this technique, and do you think that it is successful?
- Saleem makes many errors in his narrative – both accidental and purposeful. Why do you think that he does this, and why does he not bother to correct his mistakes?
- What is Padma’s role in the novel?
For the first 100 pages, you might want to explore the following in-depth discussion questions. The page numbers serves as a guidance.
- “What is so precious to need all this writing-shiting?” asks Padma (p. 24). What is the value of it for Saleem, do you think?
- Saleem often appears to be an unreliable narrator, mixing up dates and hazarding details of events he never witnessed. He also draws attention to his own telling of the story: “Like an incompetent puppeteer, I reveal the hands holding the strings…” (p. 65). How much faith do you put in his version of events?
- “To understand just one life, you have to swallow the world … do you wonder, then, that I was a heavy child?” (p. 109). Is it possible, within the limits of a novel, to “understand” a life?
- Saleem’s father says of Wee Willie Winkie, “That’s a cheeky fellow; he goes too far.” The Englishman Methwold disagrees: “The tradition of the fool, you know. Licensed to provoke and tease.” (p. 102). The novel itself provokes and teases the reader a good deal. Did you feel yourself “provoked”? Does the above exchange shed any light on Rushdie’s own plight since The Satanic Verses?
- and my question is.. how much of the novel, do you think, is autobiographical?
Enjoy your first week of Read-along! I’ll see you at Week 1 wrap-up next Friday!
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Sign up now and I’ll add you in!