Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Sterility

I was reminded of Margaret Sanger today when we discussed Indira's emergency. Under her plan, vasectomies were commissioned to men whose families's could no longer economically support a bigger family (with more children). It is directed at lower income people-making it seem as if they are trying to get rid of this specific group. As we discussed previously with Margaret Sanger, her push for women's birth control could have been seen as a racist ploy to purify the race. Although personally I don't think Sanger was pushing women's rights and birth control as a means to eradicate the minorities, Indira's plans could be suspicious. She was accused of election fixing so do you guys think that her vasectomies were aimed to exterminate the lower income people or to really benefit the greater good of India?
Also, sterility is a common theme in Rushdie's novel. For example, Saleem can't use his two "pens" can't be used at the same time. Could it be that Rushdie is referencing Indira's programs?

6 comments:

Olivia Celata said...

I definitely believe that the recurring theme of sterilization in Midnight's Children was Rushdie's way of directly referring to Indira's policy in the Emergency period. Rushdie seems to criticize the work of Indira and view her as a power-hungry leader. As an example, Rushdie ties the beginning of the Emergency to the ending of the Midnight's Children's power. I, however, hope that Indira's efforts were made with the intention to improve life in India. It is a great possibility that she made the sterilization laws in order to try to lower the amount of poverty and hunger, especially in the slums.

chrissy said...

As I studied for the test, I picked up on more negative images of Indira. I definitely think Saleem (and Rushdie) disagree with the works of Indira. At one point she is described as a snake that slithers over Saleem in his dreams. She also portrayed as a woman with half black hair and half white hair, symbolizing "non-aligned" status many newly coming nations took on as Mrs. Quinet explained to us.

Steven said...

Penis imagery is common in literature and is prevalent in Midnight's Children as well. The idea that he can't use his two pens shows again his conflict between England and India, or rather between Western and Eastern philosophies and culture. Gandhi would certainly say that the pen is mightier than the sword. I hope you didn't miss that phallic reference.

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C-Sted said...

Chrissy, I find the connection you've made between Indira's program and Saleem's sterility to be very compelling. Rushdie may also be suggesting that the mixture of East and West is a failure. However, I cannot help but question if Saleem is truly sterile. When Saleem says that he cannot use his two "pens" at the same time, he is indicating that his decision to write is in and of itself an act of creation on par with procreation. Saleem may leave no children of his own behind (excluding Shiva's child, which on its own raises questions about sterility and parenthood), but he does pass on a vision of India for the rest of the world to enjoy and benefit from.

Also, I take credit for both of the deleted posts above... On the Lyre account again by accident. Sorry!