Haroun And The Sea Of Stories is an extract taken from the novel of the same name written by Salman Rushdie, a popular British Indian novelist. Due to his novel The Satanic Verses, a fatwa was released against him with orders to kill him on site by the then leader of Iran, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini. The story is also a part of the BA1 syllabus of Delhi University and is published in the book Fluency In English.

Haroun And The Sea Of Stories Essay Summary:

The story is set in the imaginary country of Alifbay, where there is a city that is so sad that its people has forgot its name. Sadness is itself manufactured in the city and sent all over the world. Along the city there is mournful sea which only has glumfish to eat, this makes the city sadder. In the city, there lives a small family of Khalifas which is the only happy family in the metropolis. Rashid Khalifa is a cheerful person and is a storyteller who has earned two nicknames names – Ocean of Notions by his admirers and Shah Of Blah by his haters. His wife and son, Soraya and Haroun, are also as happy as him. Haroun is a school student and has a habit of questioning. He had grown up listening to his father’s stories and mother’s songs and was able to sense some trouble brewing when his mother stopped singing suddenly.

Rashid’s Personality

Haroun And The Sea Of Stories Essay Summary: Rashid was a famous storyteller and was always busy telling stories that he used to forget spending time with his family, due to which he could not sense the upcoming trouble. Whenever asked a question, Rashid never answered it straightly, he loved detours more than shortcuts and answered Haroun’s questions in puzzles. Haroun was a great admirer of his father and used to come along with him during the rehearsals and performances. He liked his father’s every story. Rashid had stories full of sorcery, love interests, princess, wicked uncles, etc. which always fascinated Rashid.

Although when Haroun asked Rashid the question that from where does he gets his stories, Rashid started puzzling him and told him that they come from the hot water sea whose water flows into the taps installed by a water genie.

The Khalifas’s House

Haroun And The Sea Of Stories Essay Summary: Khalifas lived in a concrete house which had lime-green windows, pink walls,  blue balconies with squiggly railings which made the house look more like a cake than a building. In the sad city, there was class division, the rich people used to live in the tall skyscrapers whereas poor people had houses made up of tumbledown shacks to survive. Their condition was still better than the super poor folks who lived on payments and had to pay the price to the goons for doing that also. So, the Khalifa’s house was better than any other family’s of the same class.

Haroun’s Personality

Haroun and the sea of stories essay summary by Salman Rushdie
Left: Salman Rushdie | Image source1/source 2

Haroun And The Sea Of Stories Essay Summary: Haroun was a great admirer of his father’s stories and was always intriguing him which has started to annoy him. One day Haroun asked Rashid the question that why they didn’t have any more kids than him to which Rashid replied that they used all their child-stuff quota in making him and there is so much more to him.

Unsatisfied by Rashid’s answer, Haroun asks the same question to his mother and gets the reply that the child making business is not an easy thing. His mother further refers to the Senguptas who don’t have any kids. Mr. Sengupta is the one whom Haroun hated.

The Senguptas

Haroun And The Sea Of Stories Essay Summary: The Senguptas lived above the house of Khalifas and were always interfering in their lives. As they didn’t have any kids, Mrs. Oneeta Sengupta used to love Haroun and hug him with all her wiggly body wrapping him. On the other hand, Mr. Sengupta was the one who showed some interest in Soraya and was always criticizing Rashid. Haroun didn’t like him very much and decided to not to care about him even a bit after listening to the words, “What’s the use of stories that aren’t even true?”

Khalifas’s Source Of Income

Haroun And The Sea Of Stories Essay Summary: The one and only income for the Khalifas, as mentioned in the story, was during the election times when greedy politicians used to offer Rashid a handsome amount of money. Rashid’s stories were liked by everyone in the city even after knowing that they all are just made by him and are not true whereas no matter how hard the politicians implied that they are telling the truth, no one believed them. This was an excellent opportunity for Rashid.

Soraya’s Running Away With Mr. Sengupta

Haroun And The Sea Of Stories Essay Summary: One day when it was raining heavily, Haroun skipped his school to enjoy the first rain on skin. The rain was liked by everyone in the city and used to bring a little happiness in the sad metropolis, even the mournful sea used to get pomfrets along with the glumfish. When Rashid reached home after enjoying the rain, he is surprised to see his father looking like he had stuck his face outside the window to enjoy the rain. His all clothes are dry, but just the face is wet, although Haroun couldn’t guess that his face is wet not because of the rain. Haroun’s mother had run off with Mr. Sengupta, and Rashid is the one in shock.

Soraya had left a note saying that Rashid’s mind is full of make belief and has no room for facts. Mr.Sengupta had no imagination at all, but this was fine for her. In the end, there was a postscript telling Rashid to tell Haroun how much Soraya loved him.

After this incident, Rashid broke all the clocks of the house which seemed to him to have stopped at the exact time when Soraya ran off. When Rashid told Haroun the whole story, the first question that Haroun asked him was why did Rashid had to break his clock for instead of something about Soraya.

Rashid was a storyteller and didn’t know any other thing than storytelling but still was looking very pathetic doubting his own occupation. Haroun didn’t like his father looking this pathetic as he was a great admirer of him, he ends up in using the same words which he heard Mr. Sengupta saying.”What’s the use of stories that aren’t even true?” Haroun shouted. He wanted to take his words back to his mouth, but then it was not possible whereas Rashid hid his face in his hands and just cried.

The Unthinkable Thing Happened

Haroun And The Sea Of Stories Essay Summary: One day when Rashid Khalifa was standing on the stage to tell a story, the Ocean of Notions, the Shah of Blah opened his mouth only to find that he has run out of stories to tell.

Haroun And The Sea Of Stories Essay Summary: Question and Answers

Q: What are the three questions that Haroun asks his Father?

A: In Salman Rushdie’s “Haroun and the Sea of Stories” published by Penguin Books, 1991, the main protagonist Haroun Khalifa asks his father Rashid Khalifa, who is a famous storyteller many questions. Some of the important questions that he asks him are: a) From where do all his stories come from? b) Why do his parents didn’t have any more children? c) What’s the use of stories that aren’t even true?

Q: Why were straight answers beyond Rashid Khalifa’s?

A: In Salman Rushdie’s “Haroun and the Sea of Stories” published by Penguin Books, 1991, straight answers were beyond Rashid Khalifa because he was a storyteller who was a good story juggler. Whenever there was a longer road available, Rashid never used to take shortcuts. If related to the real world, it would also be beneficial for a storyteller to puzzle up his stories instead of telling them the easy way.

Q: Why was the third question that Haroun asked his father so terrible? Was there really a need for Haroun to take those words back?

A: In Salman Rushdie’s “Haroun and the Sea of Stories” published by Penguin Books, 1991, the third question that Haroun asked his father, Rashid Khalifa, the storyteller was “What’s the use of stories that aren’t even true?” These were not the real words of Haroun and were fed into Haroun’s ears by Mr. Sengupta who always criticized Rashid.

Yes, according to us there was really a need for Haroun to take those words back as Rashid only knew storytelling as a profession and was depressed by the fact that his wife has run off because of his occupation. Therefore, these words dispirited Rashid Khalifa more and unfortunately, he ran out of stories to tell.

Q: Why Soraya ran away with Mr.Sengupta?

A: In Salman Rushdie’s “Haroun and the Sea of Stories” published by Penguin Books, 1991, Soraya is the mother of main protagonist Haroun Khalifa and had to run away with Mr. Sengupta because her ears were filled with Sengupta’s words which always criticized Soraya’s husband, Rashid Khalifa. Rashid was a storyteller due to which he could not gather much income and was always busy telling stories, unknowingly ignoring his family. This could also have been the reason that why Soraya ran away with Mr. Sengupta.

Q: What’s the difference between the stories that politicians tell and Rashid Khalifa tells?

A: In Salman Rushdie’s “Haroun and the Sea of Stories” published by Penguin Books, 1991, greedy politicians have always benefitted the storyteller Rashid Khalifa. People always believed the stories that Rashid tells even if he himself says that they are not true whereas as on the other hand, no matter how much the politicians implied that they are telling the truth, no one believed them.

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 Note* Featured Image is the modification of the actual book cover.
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