So our reading of Haroun and the Sea of Stories in GHEnglish has finally come to an end. While I have complained about the book a lot throughout reading it, I did enjoy the ending and I feel like as the book went on, I got more into the plot and all the characters. I also believe that in the last 4 chapters there was a lot of good character development and action that made the book more interesting and made me more invested in seeing how the book would end.
Along with reading the story, everyone in the class was assigned a specific lens, either satire, allegory, allusion, or hero’s journey, to look at the story through while reading. My particular group was assigned allegory, and last week every group shared information through presentations to help expand the class’s understanding of the book at different levels and through different lenses. To see more of what the allegory group did, you can read a bit more about it in my previous blog post, or you can check out the Instagram page that our group made for our presentation. After hearing about all of the different lenses, I think that allusion presents many interesting ways to look at the book. There were lots of allusion to classics such as Alice in Wonderland and Arabian Nights throughout the book, and I found it interesting how many different influences a book can have. Just like the origin of the stories for the Sea of Stories, it shows how all stories ebb and flow, intertwining lots of different stories from the past.
While we have had to look at the book through specific lenses, we’ve also been annotating the book, highlighting and underlining specific quotes or parts of the book that we find interesting. My favorite quote from the last four chapters is from Khattam-Shud:
“‘Stories have warped the boy’s brain,’ he pronounced solemnly. ‘Now he daydreams and spouts rubbish. Insulting, abusive child. Why would I have the slightest interest in your mother? Stories have made you incapable of seeing who stands before you,'” (Rushdie, 156).
I found this to be interesting, because everyone in life tells stories. Khattam-Shud seems to only disprove of stories that aren’t literal and bring joy, but he himself seems to be telling stories by describing Haroun and who he himself is.
As per usual for every week of reading Haroun, we had a discussion this week. In this week’s discussion, my favorite topic that we talked about was the happy ending of the book. The story seemed to end very abruptly, almost too easily, and everyone in the class was very curious about this. One classmate presented the idea that maybe the Walrus and the Eggheads created an artificial happy ending, a story, for Haroun to thank him for saving Kahani from Khattam-Shud. This is really something to think about, and while it may or may not be what Rushdie intended to be perceived, I think it’s a very good and different way to look at the traditional happy ending and really makes one question what we do and don’t have control of.
It also makes me wonder how the story would be different if it was told from the Walrus’s point of view. I have a theory that the Walrus actually orchestrated the conflict on Kahani after Soraya left and Haroun asked his father the question that Mr. Sengupta had said, to help Haroun make up for what he said and to be able to find his purpose and ability to help his father. I think that it would be great to read the story from inside the operation rather after reading about the effects of this theory in Haroun and the Sea of Stories.
When we first started reading Haroun, our teacher presented us with the issue of “Fictional stories are morally good lies.” In our discussions throughout this book we extensively talked about this topic, questioning everything from how Rashid would feel about that idea to whether or not Rashid himself is a liar. I personally don’t think that Rashid is lying when he is telling his stories, since he knows Kahani is real and that the stories he gets comes from the Story Sea. Is Rashid actually telling true stories that he gets from Kahani, and everyone just assumes that he’s lying because of the absurdity of the stories? Maybe if they knew about Kahani they would think differently.
I did enjoy the novel overall because of the discussions and insights and thoughts like these that the story presented me with. When we first started the story I honestly hated it and found it so boring, but I think that it blossomed into a nice story. I don’t really see it sticking with me like a story like the Catcher in the Rye has, but I think that it’s a story that I would reread at some point in my life. I think it’s a good sign that I wouldn’t have horrible memories about it if someone mentioned its title, and that seems like the book was a success to me.