Haroun and the Sea of Stories

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Butt Character Analysis

A mechanical Hoopoe bird that communicates telepathically without moving its beak. As a machine, Butt is highly logical, but also has a flair for the dramatic and has temperamental outbursts at times. According to Iff, the Hoopoe bird is the bird that in old stories leads all the other birds through danger to their goal, and in Haroun's story, Butt is instrumental in the defeat of Khattam-Shud's shadow. Butt the Hoopoe corresponds to Mr. Butt in Alfibay.

Butt Quotes in Haroun and the Sea of Stories

The Haroun and the Sea of Stories quotes below are all either spoken by Butt or refer to Butt. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Language, Words, and Naming Theme Icon
). Note: all page and citation info for the quotes below refers to the Granta Books and Penguin edition of Haroun and the Sea of Stories published in 1991.
Chapter 4 Quotes

To give a thing a name, a label, a handle; to rescue it from anonymity, to pluck it out of the Place of Namelessness, in short to identify it—well, that's a way of bringing the said thing into being. Or, in this case, the said bird or Imaginary Flying Organism.

Related Characters: Iff (speaker), Haroun Khalifa, Butt
Page Number: 63
Explanation and Analysis:

Iff instructs Haroun to choose a bird, and Haroun, thinking he's being logical, replies that the only bird in the room is the peacock bed. In this passionate speech, Iff then gets at the importance of naming to the novel.

Throughout the book, Rushdie encourages the reader to consider the names of characters and places as more than just a simple way to identify someone or something, but as a way to understand and engage with them. This particular passage subtly references the idea of Haroun's sad city, which is so sad it's forgotten its name. Following Iff's logic, the sad city exists in the "Place of Namelessness" alongside the bird that Haroun has not yet named. However, once Haroun chooses the Hoopoe bird and the sad city remembers its name, both Haroun and Kahani are able to deepen their understandings of the world and of themselves. This further supports the idea that claiming specific language through the act of naming is a way to create meaning and purpose in one's life.


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Chapter 5 Quotes

"A strange sort of Story Moon our Kahani would be, if storybook things weren't everywhere to be found." And Haroun had to admit that that was a reasonable remark.

Related Characters: Butt (speaker), Haroun Khalifa, Iff
Page Number: 79
Explanation and Analysis:

Haroun and Iff are speeding towards Gup City on Butt the Hoopoe, and Haroun is thinking that all manner of fanciful stories are coming true. Butt's reply highlights the relationship between absurdity and logic, and the balance between the two that is necessary for such a story to make sense. Since Kahani means "story," the fact that the moon Kahani is filled with storybook things makes perfect logical sense. However, this is one idea that builds throughout the novel and only becomes clear at the very end, when it's revealed that Haroun's sad city is also named Kahani. In this way, Butt's declaration here also serves to help the ending of the novel make sense, as one could argue that Soraya's return and the sad city's naming is a happy ending that could only be found in a storybook. However, since Kahani the moon and Kahani the city are linked by their name, they're both therefore subject to storybook logic.

Chapter 7 Quotes

"But but but what is the point of giving persons Freedom of Speech," declaimed Butt the Hoopoe, "if you then say they must not utilize the same? And is not the Power of Speech the greatest Power of all? Then surely it must be exercised to the full?"

Related Characters: Butt (speaker), Haroun Khalifa, Rashid Khalifa, Iff, General Kitab
Page Number: 119
Explanation and Analysis:

Haroun, Rashid, and the Guppee army are heading towards the Land of Chup, and Haroun is shocked to hear the Guppees arguing and saying out loud that they'd sacrifice Princess Batcheat for the sake of the Ocean. Haroun remarks that that kind of talk is mutinous, and Butt replies with this consideration of the power of free speech.

As far as actual speech is concerned, the Land of Gup represents a society in which the concept of free speech is taken to the extreme. Individuals can say things that are rude, inflammatory, or that go against the wishes and decisions of those in charge, and all of these vocalizations are not just okay, but encouraged. Haroun and Rashid, however, come from a place where censorship is not as intense as in Chup but where one still cannot get away with saying such things, and so they struggle to understand how this intense display of freedom of speech functions and how it can be a good thing.

Rashid sees later the true positive effect of the debate and argument that takes place during this journey. The openness that it created means that the Guppees are able and willing to support each other and work as a team. The absence of secret thoughts and desires that then have the capacity to do harm is what allows the Guppees to win, and the opposite of this is what causes the Chupwala army to be so grossly ineffective.

Chapter 8 Quotes

"Never thought it'd be so bad!"
"We have failed you! We feel sad!"
"I feel terrible! She feels worse!"
"We can hardly speak in verse."

Related Characters: Bagha (speaker), Goopy (speaker), Haroun Khalifa, Iff, Butt, Mali
Page Number: 140
Explanation and Analysis:

Goopy and Bagha are explaining to Haroun, Iff, Mali, and Butt the Hoopoe that they cannot continue heading south towards the Wellspring given the state of the Ocean, as the poison affects them too much. This is a prime example of how verse is used throughout the novel to highlight important passages or ideas. The Plentimaw Fish mate for life, and speak in verse with their life partners in order to express this union. Knowing this, it underscores just how poisoned the Ocean is that this pair of Plentimaw Fish is considering that they may not be able to speak in verse as a consequence (and thus also may lose the strength of their bond).

This also mirrors what Haroun observes on the road over the mountains between the Town of G and the Valley of K. Near G, the signs along the road warning drivers to drive carefully rhyme, but as the road climbs the mountain, the signs stop rhyming. In this way, rhyming is normalized, while at the same time it serves to highlight important passages. In this system, when rhyming is given up, it indicates an even more important statement.

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