Midnight's Children

Midnight's Children Summary and Analysis of Book Two: The Kolynos Kid; Commander Sabarmati’s Baton; Revelations; Movements Performed by Pepperpots

Summary of "The Kolynos Kid"

Saleem doesn’t return to his home after leaving the hospital. Instead, he and Mary are sent to live with his Uncle Hanif, the filmmaker, and Hanif’s beautiful actress wife Pia. Pia is upset that Hanif only wants to make realistic movies that show the dire side of India. As such, nobody will commission his scripts. She begins to coddle Saleem which causes the boy to develop sexual feelings towards her. One night, a film studio executive hands Saleem a break-up note to give to Pia. The next day, Pia flies into a rage then crumbles onto her bed in tears due to her affair ending. Saleem tries to comfort Pia, but his hormones and curiosity take over, and he fondles Pia’s body. She slaps him and calls him a pervert. Soon after, Amina comes to pick up Saleem to take him back home.

Summary of "Commander Sabarmati’s Baton"

At Methwold Estate, Saleem sees that his place as the favorite child is no longer his. His father prefers to spend his time with the Brass Monkey, who loathes the attention. She even converts to Christianity to upset her parents, but they ignore the girl’s attempts to anger them. Saleem finds out that his neighbor, Commander Sabarmati, is the victim of a cheating wife. With his mother's own affair still fresh in his mind, he masterminds a plot to get revenge on this woman who is cheating on this man. He leaves a note for Commander Sabarmati, and Commander Sabarmati finds his wife and her lover. He shoots them both until they're dead. After this happens, Saleem is happy the cheaters are dead because it showed his mother what happens to women who are unfaithful to men.

Summary of "Revelations"

Saleem has even lost his influence over the Midnight Children’s Conference. Many of the children begin developing prejudices against the others due to their social class or religion, and the group slowly disbands. Saleem tries to keep them together, but Shiva scoffs at Saleem and mocks him for his naïve notions.

Later, Pia calls the family and lets them know that Hanif has committed suicide. During the forty-day mourning period, Reverend Mother is angry at Pia for not showing grief at Hanif’s death. She promises to go on a hunger strike until Pia shows her son respect. Halfway through the mourning period, Saleem apologizes to Pia, who then admits to Saleem that she is trying to stay strong in memory of Hanif, who hated melodrama in films. Once she begins talking, though, the tears and grief come out. Reverend Mother then takes Pia under her wing and lets the new widow move to Pakistan with her.

Aadam Aziz, who has become more lost and aloof in his later years, begins to say that he has seen God. Nobody believes him until Mary starts seeing the ghost of her dead lover Joseph, who she believes has made supernatural appearances to her before. She confesses her crime about switching the children at birth. She takes her leave and lives with her mother. However, both Aadam and Mary saw an old servant who once worked for Ahmed. His decrepit and haunted appearance is explained by his recent bout of leprosy.

Summary of "Movements Performed by Pepperpots"

Even though Ahmed now knows that Saleem is not the product of an affair, he still berates and belittles her. To get her children away from the increasingly violent and drunk Ahmed, Amina takes her two children to Pakistan to live with her sister Emerald and General Zulfikar. The family is treated with little respect because of their poor status, but Zulfikar takes a liking to Saleem as he believes Saleem is more manly than his own son Zafar. One night at a dinner party, General Ayub declares that the military is going to run a coup on the government. Zulfikar asks Saleem to assist him on the plans. The boy then moves pepperpots and other condiments around the table to help visualize strategy.

During the next four years that Saleem and his family stay in Pakistan, Brass Monkey becomes an extremely devout Muslim. On her fourteenth birthday, she is asked to sing for her guests. She produces a beautiful clear voice, and everyone calls her Jamila Singer. All the while, India and Pakistan grow more hostile towards each other, and the border between India and China become riddled with conflicts.


Rushdie used Hanif to show how India perceived itself. The country was obsessed with excess and exuberance, melodrama and music, and moviegoers made the Bollywood genre popular. They wanted to celebrate their nation and its culture. Movies and books are a reflection of society, and India wanted to see itself on screen as a rich and happy country. However, Hanif’s inability to produce a Bollywood-themed script shows that there was very little happiness in the country. Hanif needed to create movies with realistic stories. He wanted to hold up a mirror to India to show the populace that the country has significant problems.

Reverend Mother always detested Pia for marrying Hanif. She believed that Pia was merely an actress who latched onto her son for his meteoric rise to fame. She didn’t think Pia was good enough for him, and these feelings became clear when she chastised Pia for not mourning Hanif after his suicide. What is interesting about Pia and Hanif’s relationship, though, is that Pia had a greater understanding of Hanif that Reverend Mother has with Aadam. The old married couple is practically estranged. Even with Pia’s affair, Reverend Mother and Aadam never had the type of respect for each other that Pia shows when she chooses to mourn Hanif in the way that he would have respected.

The divide between Amina and Ahmed is growing wider, especially with the news that the entire birth mix-up is Mary’s fault. Ahmed does not know how to deal with his feelings, so it is easier for him to blame Amina for the entire situation. And just like when Amina took to the racetrack to pay for her husband’s legal fees, Amina shows that she has the inner strength to handle adversity. Rather than staying with a man who verbally abuses her and cheats on her, she takes her children away from the toxic environment.

With a story that is so obsessed with mystical and religious origins, it is strange to see Mary’s confession come from a realistic and deadpan moment. She believes that the figure is Joseph, the man who has haunted her side since his death. He is a constant reminder of her sin. When she sees the sickly figure in the shadows, she can’t help but think that his soul is getting more torn apart the longer she keeps her secret. She never learns, though, that the figure was just a living man. Her fears were exaggerated, which unfortunately caused a whirlwind of drama in the Sinai family.

The novel has briefly touched on naming and how it creates identity. Up until this point in the novel, Saleem’s sister has been exclusively called Brass Monkey. Now that she has turned into what Pakistan considers to be a devout and pure young woman, the novel deems her worthy of using her given name, Jamila. Automatically there is a sense of adulthood in using Jamila’s real name, like she is shedding off the last vestiges of her stubborn childhood. She grows into her own with her voice and even beings to accept the Muslim faith.

Saleem is maturing, also. His adolescent phase where he was sexually obsessed with his attractive aunt came to a close once he took responsibility for his actions and apologized for touching her inappropriately. Followed by the events in Pakistan where Zulfikar took Saleem in and treated him like a son, Saleem is starting to put aside the past and instead focus on improving himself.