Salman Rushdie's Haroun And The Sea Of Stories

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Salman Rushdie’s Haroun and the Sea of Stories is first and foremost a book designed and written for children. Set in a fantasy world full of strange creatures and people, it is a light-hearted, enjoyable tale that is an easy and delightful read for young audiences. On a deeper level however, a recurring theme in many forms of children’s literature; it delivers a strong message, in this case, of identity, politics and censorship. Many elements of the story can be closely associated with Rushdie’s personal experiences with politics and censorship. This essay will use an in depth reading of Haroun and the Sea of Stories as a base for exploring the meaning of storytelling intended by Rushdie. It will investigate the political element featured…show more content…
After Salman Rushdie wrote The Satanic Verses (1988) the Shan of Iran placed a fatwah upon him, exiling Rushdie and forcing him to adopt a life of solitude and hiding. After years of suffering with a writers block, Haroun and the Sea of Stories (1990) was born, a children 's book written for his own child but also as a means of explaining his situation to his son, largely through the use of humour and comparison. Rushdie 's personal experiences with censorship and political opposition can be viewed in the novel in the division between the Guppees and the Chupwalas. “The upshot was that the Chupwalas did not stand shoulder to shoulder, but betrayed one another, stabbed on another in the back, mutinied, hid deserted” (Rushdie, 185). This description of the termination of the Chupwala army demonstrates Rushdie’s point that a political society of censorship and rigid control can never stand when genuinely challenged. Because the people of Chup had been silenced by Khattam-Shud and because they had deserted the story of their past, they proved to be no match for the free and loquacious Guppees. The Chupwalas are reminiscent to the strict regimes of the Middle East and Asia; the judge, jury and executioner of Rushdie’s career, pre Haroun. Rushdie compares this confining regiment to the idea that a shadow that will turn against its owner during arduous times “a Shadow very often has a…show more content…
As storytelling, fiction and make believe are the personification of identity in the novel, silence is the foe that steals that from people. Khattam-Shud tells Haroun that the world is for controlling, not for fun. The best way to control a nation is to render them speechless. Without speech there is silence, and silence is the controlling factor of nations. Both Haroun and the people of Gup initially see the Land of Chup as a place antithetical to their own values of free speech and freedom. Their invasion of Chup to fight for their own values, which they hold in higher regard than those of the people of Chup, does actually lead them to a new realisation. A new wave of acceptance. While stories, free speech and identity could be seen as the main focal point of the tale, it is also important to note that the concept of silence is a beautiful addition to a world where free speech can condemn as well as liberate. The story of Haroun could be narrowed down to 2 opposing sides, the shadow and the self. The self is the free speaking revolutionary, the shadow is the force of culture and society; the oppressor of the self. However, the silence associated with the shadow holds an element of beauty, seen in Mudra the shadow warrior, which is found when working towards the freedom of the self. Using Rashid Khalifa, father of the eponymous Haroun, as a
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