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Chapter Summaries

Chapter 1
Chapter 2
Chapter 3
Chapter 4
Chapter 5
Chapter 6
Chapter 7
Chapter 8
Chapter 9
Chapter 10
Chapter 11
Chapter 12
Contributing Authors


Haroun and the Sea of Stories - Chapter 4
by Samantha Marcum and Sony Verma


The water Genie, Iff, instructs Haroun to choose a bird. After much discussion, Haroun chooses a miniature bird, called Hoopoe. The Hoopoe is the bird which leads all of the other birds through dangerous places to the ultimate goal. The Hoopoe grows to become very large, and Iff and Haroun climb aboard. They, swiftly, travel up and away, Earth quickly disappears from view. The Hoopoe's name is Butt, which Haroun connects to the mail coach driver. Butt the Hoopoe turns out to be a mechanical bird, who communicates telepathically.

Soon they near Kahani, Earth's second moon, which moves so fast that it is undetected by Earthlings. They land in the Ocean of the Streams of Story, and Haroun takes a try at Wishwater. He is unable to make a successful wish, because he can not decide whether to wish for his father's job or his mother's return home. Iff then gives Haroun a story to cheer him up. The story is terribly incorrect, as Haroun is a Prince and he turns into a spider, and it manages to depress Haroun even more. Sensing danger, Iff tells the boy that the Ocean must be poisoned again, and that there will be many problems at Gup city. He states that there will probably be war with the land of Chup, whose people frequently poison the ocean. They live of the other side of Kahani, which is always dark.


Iff and Butt are vital characters in the story (and especially in this chapter) because they often help Salman Rushdie express his opinions and ideas. Essentially the two characters represent the questioning of restrictions and oppression on free speech. As they help Haroun travel through Kahani, they inform him and the reader about two contrasting societies on the moon. Doing so, they open up arguments that Rushdie questions to governments (particularly the Iranian government) about censorship. Through things such as the Process Too Complicated To Explain and the Chupwala's pollution of the ocean, the author is able to make negative points about governmental oppression.

When Haroun is about to travel to Kahani, Iff asks him to pick a mode of transportation. Although he is allowed to pick anything for a vehicle, Haroun automatically feels that he is restricted to choose from things that are present and existing. He says to the Water Genie, "That may be true where you come from, but in these parts stricter rules apply," (Rushdie 63). By way of this scene, Rushdie comments that many authors endure and abide the restrictions of speech (a means of transporting ideas). However, through the voice of Iff, Rushdie asserts that every person has the right to free speech and people's ideas should not and cannot be bound by social beliefs.

Interestingly, Rushdie makes stories exist in the form of an ocean on his moon Kahani (the name means 'story' in Urdu). Through the Ocean of the Streams of Story, the author uses the nature of water to describe the nature of speech. Like water, speech is essential for living, and speech can also be destructive at times. In addition, stories can mix and merge just like oceans. Being fluids, water and speech can be contained at times and they can gush over obstacles (like beaver dams). Steam rising off of the ocean is like the internal message of stories. Although neither the steam nor the allegorized is the actual ocean or the literal story, both are the essence of storytelling. By comparing speech with water, Rushdie shows the nature of speech.

Rushdie refers to Iran's oppression of free speech on him through Butt the Hoopoe. Butt has to communicate telepathically by a P2C2E because, he answers to Haroun, "As you may observe I am not moving my beak, which must maintain its present configuration for aerodynamic reasons," (Rushdie 66). Rushdie says through this quotation that he had to keep his mouth shut, and he could not talk to the world publicly, because of Fatwa. However, he could communicate his feelings about censorship in other ways, for example through this book Haroun and the Sea of Stories.

Writer's block, which Rushdie experienced when he was under Fatwa, is symbolized by Haroun's failure with Wishwater. Haroun's inability to concentrate for more than eleven minutes clearly shows how Rushdie was unable to focus on his works when he had writer's block.
In "Chapter 4: An Iff and a Butt," Salman Rushdie describes the nature of speech, presents his opinion of censorship, and reveals his experiences via Iff, Butt, and Haroun.

"What is the freedom of expression? Without the freedom to offend, it ceases to exist." -- Salman Rushdie

© Smelli Notes 2001