Haroun and the Sea of Stories

by Salman Rushdie

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Last Updated September 5, 2023.

Salman Rushdie's Haroun and the Sea of Stories is an allegorical story told from the point of view of the child protagonist, Haroun. The story deals with the theme of censorship, a problem that is still prevalent in India today.

The titular character, Haroun Khalifa, first lives with his parents: his father, Rashid, a storyteller; and his mother, Soraya. Their neighbor, Mr. Sengupta, however, convinces Soraya to leave the family. Rashid then becomes a spokesman on behalf of politicians. He is given a job at a place called the Valley of K and takes Haroun with him. The politician who hired him is called Snooty Buttoo.

One night, on Buttoo's yacht, Haroun meets a water genie named Iff. He discovers that Iff has been ordered to steal Rashid's access to the Sea of Stories and demands to meet Iff's supervisor. They are taken on their journey across the Sea of Stories by an intelligent mechanical hoopoe, nicknamed Butt. Haroun learns that the sea is being terrorized by a man called Khattam-Shud.

They arrive at the kingdom of Gup, where King Chattergy, Prince Bolo, General Kitab, and the Walrus—Iff's supervisor—are planning to wage war against the neighboring kingdom of Chup to bring back Bolo's betrothed, Princess Batcheat. Surprisingly, Rashid appears as well, and we learn that he witnessed the princess's kidnapping. They all join the Guppee Army of Pages in marching to Chup.

Thereafter, Haroun, Iff, Butt, and a gardener named Mali investigate the Old Zone of the sea and are captured by Khattam-Shud. He plans to seal off the Story Source at the bottom of the sea. Haroun and his companions fight back, destroying Khattam-Shud's machines and diverting the giant plug meant to seal off the Source.

Meanwhile, the Guppee army have managed to defeat the Chupwala army and rescue Princess Batcheat. Khattam-Shud is crushed under a statue of himself that he commissioned. Haroun is promised a happy ending to his own story by the Walrus, and when he and Rashid return to their own world, Snooty Buttoo is expelled by his citizens. Haroun and Rashid go back to their hometown, where Soraya has returned to them, and they are welcomed with great enthusiasm.

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