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I think that Haroun experiences a great deal of growth in the story. At the start, he is a fairly ignorant child, who does not understand the larger implications of what is happening with his father and the nature of political control that is involved. He begins to assert a greater voice in helping his father gain back the ability to tell stories, to resume his role as "the Shah of Blah." He also understands how important his father's role exactly is. At the outset, Haroun does not understand why his father's ability to tell stories is important at all. Yet, when he has to assume responsibility for assisting his father reclaim his voice, Haroun understands the true nature of why telling stories is so important. He also begins to understand that without storytellers, those in the position of power are able to exercise greater control over an unsuspecting public. This is a position that Rushdie himself believes and for which has given great sacrifice. The poignancy in this is that as Haroun understands and moves towards his father at the end, Rushdie hopes that his son, Zafar, will do the same with him.
Here are some questions I am using with my ninth graders. (some similar to other posted).
1. In the opening pages of the book, Haroun looks up at his father and asks the question that propels the reader into the central conflict: “What’s the use of stories that aren’t even true?” According to the novel, what is the answer to this question? Please be comprehensive in your approach, meaning, please address all the many answers the book suggests. Examine every time a story is told. What are the many different powers a made-up story can possess?
2. At the beginning of our study, we discussed the literary term, allegory. In what sense is the novel an allegory? What social, cultural, and political issues of our times does the book comment on and how? You may want to organize your paper around the key social, political, and cultural issues the book explores.
3. A central motif in the novel is the idea of two worlds. The reader begins in Haroun’s home of origin Sad City, and then takes off on an adventure to the Earth’s second moon, Kahani. Although the reader is initially struck by the oppositional nature of the two worlds, the reader begins to notice a series of parallels between them. Why does Rushdie choose to organize the novel in this way? What does each world represent and why create the parallels? How does this structure relate to the central themes of the text?
4. According to the novel, what is the role of the artist in society? What can the artist accomplish and what obstacles does the artist face? Why are artists essential to communities?
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