Haroun and the Sea of Stories

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Haroun and the Sea of Stories Chapter 8 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Speaking is difficult for the Shadow Warrior, and the only sounds he can manage to make are "Gogogol" and "Kafkafka," which Prince Bolo loudly insults. Blabbermouth hisses to Haroun that Bolo is pretending to be rude because he's scared, and Haroun keeps his opinions on the matter to himself because he's beginning to develop feelings for Blabbermouth.
The Shadow Warrior's nonsense sounds are references to the writers Nikolai Gogol and Franz Kafka. Again, these references won't be picked up by every reader, and individuals' degree of familiarity with Gogol or Kafka will personalize one's experience of this moment.
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Rashid attempts to explain the Warrior's mangled speech to Bolo, who is still unimpressed. The Shadow Warrior makes more hand gestures at Rashid, and croaks out "Murder, Spock Obi New Year." Bolo takes offense to hearing "murder," and General Kitab shushes him. The Shadow Warrior repeats his nonsense phrase one more time, and Rashid has a moment of clarity, saying that the Warrior has been speaking to them fluently, which Bolo ridicules. Rashid, annoyed, explains that the Warrior has been speaking Abhinaya, the Language of Gesture, and that his name is Mudra. Rashid adds that he knows Abhinaya. Mudra and his shadow nod furiously and begin gesturing quickly.
Bolo is firmly of the belief that one must be able to speak fluently in a language that he understands in order to be taken seriously, which is an absurd position to take given Bolo's own foolish speech patterns. We're again asked to consider naming, as “mudra” and “Abhinaya” are both words connected to Indian classical dance (respectively, a gesture and an aesthetic concept) and the “Language of Gesture” clearly references the various sign languages of the world. This creates another way to form meaning and understanding, even without speech itself.
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After a few minutes of "listening," Rashid tells General Kitab and Prince Bolo that Mudra is a friend to them, as well as the Champion Warrior of Chup, second in command only to Khattam-Shud. Bolo suggests they capture him, which General Kitab harrumphs at. Rashid explains that Mudra has broken relations with Khattam-Shud, having grown disgusted at the cruelty of the Cult of Bezaban.
Bolo again demonstrates that although he's capable of conventional speech, that doesn't mean he has anything useful to add to the conversation. Note too that Bolo is quick to jump to conclusions. He decides immediately here that Mudra isn't to be trusted, and he previously even wondered if Batcheat was unfaithful.
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Rashid interprets Mudra's Abhinaya, and Haroun notices that the language involves foot placement, eye movements, and face twitching. Mudra says that many Chupwalas are terrified of Khattam-Shud and don't worship Bezaban, and if Khattam-Shud were defeated, the Chupwalas would follow Mudra. The Shadow then takes up the tale, saying that in Chup, Shadows are the equals of the people they're joined to, since in the dark a shadow doesn't have to be a single shape, and can form their own identities independent of their person, and further, that a Shadow's personality is often stronger than that of the Person. This can lead to arguments between the Self and the Shadow, so that Peace in Chup means peace with the shadows.
Remember that Abhinaya is the name of a concept used in Indian classical dance. This knowledge helps situate the fact that the Abhinaya in the novel uses the entire body rather than just the hands, as it stems from a dance form that uses the entire body. The characterization of Shadows here alludes to ideas of balance, as Chupwalas must be at peace with their shadows in order to be at peace with themselves, and by extension this peace must be reached in order to maintain peace throughout the country.
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Mudra picks up the narrative and says that Khattam-Shud has made trouble with shadows, as Khattam-Shud's black magic has turned him into a Shadow himself, and his Shadow into more of a Person. This culminated in the Cultmaster separating himself from his Shadow, meaning he can be in two places at once. Blabbermouth is aghast that they'll have to beat Khattam-Shud twice. Mudra's Shadow adds that Khattam-Shud's separation from his shadow has created resentment between Chupwalas and their Shadows, and the two cannot trust each other anymore.
Khattam-Shud has essentially thwarted what the Chupwalas knew of balance in his creation of a second self, with both of these selves neither truly Self nor Shadow. We also see that it's not just silence that is tearing the Chupwala people apart; it's this distrust of their Shadows and of themselves by extension. This is proving to be an effective way for Khattam-Shud to maintain control, as presumably nobody feels safe communicating with anyone, least of all themselves.
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Prince Bolo can no longer hold his tongue and suggests that Mudra is a traitor and setting a trap. General Kitab, usually mild-mannered, tells Bolo to be quiet or they'll send him back to Gup City. Bolo, angry, quiets, but Mudra's Shadow grows enormous and turns itself into all manner of terrifying creatures, while Mudra pretends to be bored. Haroun muses on the genius of this, as nobody can truly tell what Mudra and his Shadow are thinking thanks to their wholly opposite acts.
Mudra represents the true attainment of balance that Khattam-Shud has worked so hard to upset in both himself and the other Chupwalas. Because Mudra’s Shadow and his Self put on opposite acts but at the same time support each other, he's able to achieve balance within himself and protect himself more effectively against outsiders.
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General Kitab asks Mudra if he will help them overthrow Khattam-Shud, and Mudra agrees, but says they must make a decision. Blabbermouth whispers to Haroun that the decision will be whether to save Batcheat or the Ocean, and she expresses admiration for Mudra, which makes Haroun jealous. Mudra continues, saying that there are now two Khattam-Shuds, one in the Citadel of Chup with Princess Batcheat, and the other in the Old Zone, poisoning the Ocean, and they must choose which one to pursue.
The reader is meant to consider which course of action is truly the best one. The havoc that the poisoning of the Ocean is causing is certainly cause for alarm, and it's also loosely alluded to that saving Batcheat may be futile if the poisoning of the Ocean is allowed to be completed.
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Prince Bolo bursts out that they must save Batcheat before the Ocean, insulting Shadows in his tirade. General Kitab agrees, but decides that someone must go to investigate the Old Zone. Haroun volunteers to go, sparking disbelief. General Kitab asks why Haroun would volunteer, and Haroun feels like a fool, but says that he's heard about the Sea of Stories forever but only just started believing in it now that he's in Kahani. He says that if they do nothing, the Ocean will die, and he doesn't like the idea that stories will just die. Rashid says, "There's more to you, young Haroun Khalifa, than meets the blinking eye." Bolo suggests that Haroun is fueled by love for the Ocean and he should go. General Kitab instructs Haroun to choose his companions.
For all Bolo's foolishness, his dedication to Princess Batcheat is admirable. This instance draws on the confidence Haroun found within himself in the boat on the Dull Lake. Haroun is becoming in actuality, rather than just in thought, a champion for stories despite his earlier questioning of their value and worth. Rashid recognizes this development in his son and seems proud of Haroun, which will positively affect their relationship. In this situation we're also asked to compare Bolo and Haroun, and consider their similarities and differences.
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Haroun, Iff, Goopy, Bagha, Mali, and Butt make their way through the Twilight Strip to the Southern Polar Ocean. They see that the waters are even more colorless here, and the temperature is even colder. Goopy and Bagha sputter in the poisoned water, but Mali walks along the surface with no problem. Mali explains that Gardeners are tough and some poison won't hurt him, breaking into a rough song. Iff suggests that they head for the South Pole, where the fabled Wellspring, the Source of Stories, would be, as that's where Khattam-Shud will likely be.
Rushdie here is drawing partially on well-used stereotypes in the form of the weathered and dedicated gardener character. This again brings into play individual readers' individual, outside knowledge of these stereotypes. Notice as well that the Wellspring at this point is only a story itself—it hasn't yet been seen or proven real by Haroun or any of his companions.
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Soon after, Goopy and Bagha are unable to keep swimming in the thick, poisoned water, and Haroun asks them to keep watch. Iff, Haroun, Butt, and Mali continue south, and a forest appears in the Ocean. Mali says that it's not truly a forest, but neglected and overgrown water. Mali sets about clearing a path through the vegetation, returning to the group after a minute to report on his progress.
The forest here draws on the imagery of the floating garden on the Dull Lake, in line with the imagery of the rest of Haroun's dream. It also represents the neglect that the ancient stories that flow in the area are suffering, as we see in a real life, concrete example of the extent of the neglect.
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When a reasonable channel had been cleared, Haroun, Iff, and Butt enter. Haroun calls for Mali but gets no answer. Suddenly, they hear a hiss and see a huge net fall over them. Butt says that it's a Web of Night, struggle is futile, and that their "goose is cooked." Haroun sees eyes like Mudra's peering at them through the net and hears chuckles. He angrily thinks that he's a poor hero, and wonders where Mali is.
The neglect of the ancient stories provides the Chupwalas a perfect hiding place from which to capture Haroun and his friends. This loosely alludes to the idea that we can't ignore history or our old stories without dire consequences, as Haroun has demonstrated.
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