Haroun and the Sea of Stories

by Salman Rushdie

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Student Question

How do Prince Bolo and Princess Batcheat add humor in Haroun and the Sea of Stories?

Quick answer:

In Haroun and the Sea of Stories, Prince Bolo adds to the humor by making a fool of himself every time he opens his mouth. Princess Batcheat adds to the humor of the story by remaining blissfully unaware of just how awful her singing voice is.

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Taken together, the characters of Prince Bolo and his fiancée, Princess Batcheat, bring a lot of humor to Salman Rushdie's Haroun and the Sea of Stories. In both cases, the humor that they generate comes from their complete lack of self-awareness. Whereas their many flaws are painfully obvious to those around them, the prince and princess are blissfully unaware, and this provides a rich seam of humor in the story.

In the figure of Prince Bolo, we have a man who has the uncanny knack of making a complete fool of himself practically every time he opens his mouth. The ultimate empty vessel, Bolo is a man who likes the sound of his own voice.

It's noteworthy in this regard that Bolo's name comes from the Hindu verb that means “to speak.” As the saying goes, the wise man speaks because he has something to say, whereas the fool speaks because he has to say something. There are no prizes for guessing which category Prince Bolo falls into.

Further humor can be had from Bolo's undeniably valiant efforts to save his intended. He leads the Guppee army to the neighboring kingdom of Chup, where Princess Batcheat is being held against her will. What's amusing about all of this is that Batcheat doesn't fit the usual description of a damsel in distress. For one thing, she's extremely ugly. Like her intended, she also has a complete lack of self-awareness, as can be seen in her blissful ignorance over her wretched singing voice.

Nonetheless, the songs she sings, declarations of undying love for her beloved Bolo, indicate that, at the very least, Batcheat has genuine feelings for her prince. Whatever else we might say about them, it's clear that they're made for each other.

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