Haroun and the Sea of Stories

Haroun and the Sea of Stories Summary and Analysis of Chapters 11-12


Chapter 11

The narrator of the story quickly tells of all the events that happen during the war. Because the climate in Chup is so cold, all of the soldiers are issued nosewarmers; black for the Chupwala army and red for The Pages of Gup. Rashid thinks, “This is beginning to look like a war between buffoons.” The Guppees wear helmets with bright haloes of light so that they can see and blind their enemies. It is a “state-of-the-art” war in which “neither army will even be able to see properly during the fight.”

A band of ambassadors arrives from Chup carrying a white flag of truce. Prince Bolo insults the party, but General Kitab demands respect. The ambassador tells them that the Cultmaster will not negotiate or give up Batcheat. He adds that she has been driving the entire land crazy with her singing. The ambassador tells them that he has been ordered to entertain them with his juggling. He takes out a number of objects and begins to juggle them. Everyone becomes so enthralled with the show that only Blabbermouth sees when he takes out a lit bomb and begins to juggle it. She quickly springs to action and takes the objects and juggles them herself, throwing the bomb off a cliff where it explodes. Blabbermouth’s headgear falls off and her long hair falls out. “What a creep,” she says, “He was ready to commit suicide, to get blown up right along with us.”

Bolo becomes angry that Blabbermouth has been hiding her gender. He tells her that she is fired and she retorts that she quits. Hearing the fuss, Mudra steps in and tells Bolo that if he will not have such a brave soldier, then she can join his army.

At last, the battle commences. Rashid is afraid that The Pages of Gup will be torn up or burned by the Chupwalas, but the opposite proves to be true. Because the Pages had talked through everything so extensively, even to the point of anarchy, their openness created bonds of unity. On the other side, the Chupwalas silence and lack of planning created distrust and confusion. The Guppees overwhelm the opposing army.

After the battle, Rashid and Blabbermouth’s thoughts turn to Haroun, and they worry for him. Prince Bolo begins calling for his princess and finds her singing an old blues song that sounds familiar to him. Bolo thinks the song is beautiful while the Chupwalas yell for her to be quiet. At that moment, the moon of Kahani begins to spin. The ground shakes and the houses and fortresses of Chup begin to fall. The great statue of Bezaban falls. The small, measly, scrawny Khattam-Shud runs out from his hiding place and the head of the statue falls on him, crushing him to bits.

Peace is declared. Mudra becomes the leader of Chup and invites Blabbermouth to stay and become an official interpreter and ambassador between the two lands. Haroun arrives with his friends and everyone is reunited. Iff is promoted to Chief Water Genie and personally turns on Rashid’s story water supply. Mali is named Head Floating Gardner and the Plentimaw Fishes are given charge of cleaning up the Sea. Batcheat and Bolo are married in a large ceremony, but when she offers to sing for the crowd, everyone strenuously objects. As Haroun begins to leave, an Egghead approaches him and tells him he must see the Walrus to account for breaking all of the Complicated machinery when he wished for the moon to spin.

Chapter 12

Haroun thinks that he needs a witness so he goes to each of his friends. Each tells him that the Walrus is too important and they will not cross him. Haroun has to face the Walrus alone. He ventures into the P2C2E House. There is a crowd of Eggheads wandering everywhere and the hallways twist, turn, and are complicated. Finally, he finds the Walrus’s office and goes in.

Standing in the office is the Walrus and all his friends, including Blabbermouth. They are all laughing. The Walrus tells him that they were pulling his leg, “just our little yoke,” and he laughs at his own pun. The Walrus tells him that, because of his service to the nation of Gup, they will grant him whatever favor he desires. Haroun becomes unhappy and only Blabbermouth understands his mood. Haroun tells them that it is no use asking for anything “because what I really want is something nobody here can give me.”

The Walrus tells him that at the end of a great adventure everyone wants the same thing: a happy ending. Haroun tells him that his happy ending can’t be found in an ocean. The Walrus tells him that happy endings are rare in both stories and in life. They are the exception rather than the rule. The Eggheads, however, can synthesize a happy ending. Haroun agrees and then wishes that his sad city will have a happy ending.

It is time to go home and so Haroun and Rashid climb into Butt the Hoopoe who can transport them through time as well as space. He takes them back to the Arabian Nights Plus One and they both fall asleep in their beds. When they awaken, they find Snooty Buttoo calling for them to come to the rally. Haroun begs his father to remember a crazy dream from the night before, but his father ignores him. As Haroun dresses, he finds a small envelope with a note signed by all his friends. The note invites him to come to Kahani whenever he wants. Inside is a small bird, Butt the Hoopoe.

Buttoo takes them to the rally where the people look angry at having to vote for Mr. Buttoo. Rashid stands up on the stage in front of the angry crowd. Haroun is worried that his father will again fall to pieces. Instead, Rashid speaks to the crowd and tells them that today he will tell them of Haround and the Sea of Stories.

Rashid relates the entire story of Haroun’s journey to Kahani, including the parts that he did not personally witness. As he talks about Chup and the people’s unrest there, the crowd begins to turn on Mr. Buttoo. By the time the story is over, Buttoo realizes his time is up in the Valley of K and he retreats, never to be seen again. Rashid and Haroun head back to their home, even though they were not paid.

As they arrive back in the sad city it is raining, but Rashid insists on walking anyway. As he walks, he becomes very happy and begins to dance. The dancing is infectious and Haroun joins in. He realizes that everyone else in the city is also dancing. The people tell him that the rain is making them happy. Haroun realizes that the Walrus put happy endings in the rain. Haroun is distressed that these are fake happy endings since nothing else in the city has changed. A policeman tells him that the city has remembered its name: “Kahani...it means ‘story’ you know.”

As they arrive at their house, Miss Oneeta greets them and tells them of all the good news that has happened since they left. She opens the door to their apartment and Haroun finds his mother standing there. She tells them that she made a mistake by going with the measly, weasly Mr. Sengupta. Mr. Sengupta is “khattam-shud.” When Haroun wakes the next morning, there are new clothes and a new clock in his room. He remembers that it is his birthday. He looks at the clock and nods, “Time is definitely on the move again around these parts.” Outside, in the house, his mother begins to sing.


The narrator of the story appears briefly in Chapter 11, one of the only times this occurs in the novel. Because the narrator reveals him or herself, the reader is made aware of the framing technique of the novel. This narrative technique mirrors that of stories in One Thousand and One Arabian Nights which was a major influence on Rushdie’s work. Haroun’s story exists within the reality of the narrator telling the story to the reader. It is thus framed within a second story.

The narrative becomes farcical when the Guppees and Chupwalas begin their war. This is somewhat of an unexpected turn in the book. The story of war had been building throughout the novel, but when the time for battle approaches, both sides make themselves look foolishness, and the battle ends with an easy victory by the Guppees. The clown noses and funny hats that each side wears represent Rushdie’s opinion that any force that begins war only makes themselves look foolish. The armaments of war are not the tools of courage. It is notable that no matter how technologically advanced the Guppee society becomes, they will still not be able to see properly in their fight because of the darkness. This is a sly condemnation of war like aggression in the technologically advanced Western World.

Rushdie also makes a brief allusion to the concept of suicide bombers when Khattam-Shud’s ambassador attempts to blow himself and the Guppee leadership up with a bomb. The act of suicide bombing, in which a person willfully takes their own life and those of other innocent people by detonating explosives, was and is a major terrorism issue in Middle Eastern countries such as Pakistan. The characters in the novel deal with this issue of terrorism in the same way that people of the real world deal with it: with disbelief and dismayed wonder that anyone would be so corrupted to undertake such an act.

In many places, the novel alludes to elements of popular culture in the “real” world. The Walrus and the Eggheads allude to the Beatle’s song, “I Am the Walrus.” Rushdie even comes close to quoting a line from the song when he gives the full name “I.M.D. Walrus.” Like the novel itself, the song is an example of musical absurdism. The names of the Plentimaw Fish, Goopy and Bagha, are also the names of the heroes in a movie by Middle Eastern director Satyajit Ray. These examples demonstrate Rushdie’s combination of absurd and surrealistic popular culture into his art.

It is important to note that Haroun and the Sea of Stories ends with something of a doubtful happy ending. It is a happy ending in that the sad city remembers its name (Kahani) and Haroun’s mother returns after she realizes that she made a mistake. Haroun also realizes that he can hold onto the value of story without the help of the Guppees of Kahani. However, there is doubt in Haroun’s mind over whether such a happy ending is synthetic and manufactured by the Guppees. The reader questions whether a synthetic happy ending is really a happy ending. This fact, Rushdie suggests, means that there are actually no happy endings in real life. There is only story and the story goes on forever. The novel does not end with a “happily ever after” as most princess rescue stories end. Instead, it ends with Haroun’s mother singing. This represents the continuation of song and story as a frame for all of life.