Haroun and the Sea of Stories

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A Water Genie first tasked with disconnecting Rashid's Story Water supply, but thwarted when Haroun steals his Disconnecting Tool. While Iff initially looks out primarily for himself, his love of the Ocean and guilt over neglecting the Old Zone in particular cause him to fully join forces with Haroun to defeat Khattam-Shud and save the Ocean. Iff acts as a prime example of what Guppees are and stand for, as he's gentle and kind, loves to argue and debate whenever he can, and has no taste for violence.

Iff Quotes in Haroun and the Sea of Stories

The Haroun and the Sea of Stories quotes below are all either spoken by Iff or refer to Iff. 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:
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). 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 6 Quotes

—"I don't know," panted Iff as he struggled to keep up with the charging boy. "We've never caught a spy before. Maybe we should scold him. Or make him stand in the corner. Or write I must not spy one thousand and one times. Or is that too severe?"

Related Characters: Iff (speaker), Haroun Khalifa, Rashid Khalifa
Page Number: 98
Explanation and Analysis:

Rashid has just been captured as a spy by the Guppee forces, and Haroun is rushing through the crowd to try to fix the situation. Haroun angrily asks what Guppees do to spies, listing several gruesome torture tactics, which bewilder and offend Iff and the surrounding Guppees.

Haroun comes from a place in Alfibay that relies on censorship to maintain order. Spies in Alfibay, presumably, are subjected to interrogation and torture in order to reveal their secrets. However, the punishments Iff suggests for spies are humorously minor in comparison. This begins to provide evidence of the sort of people the Guppees are—peaceful, open, and shocked even by the possibility of having to write lines (and the number of lines proposed is another reference to the 1001 Nights). These qualities then stand in stark contrast to the cruel society of the Chupwalas, who are not only secretive but sew their mouths shut as a sacrifice to Bezaban. The opposites at play allow Haroun to consider the differences between the two sides and where a happy, balanced medium might be.

Chapter 7 Quotes

Haroun was rather shocked. "That sounds like mutinous talk to me," he suggested, and Iff, Goopy, Bagha and Mali found that very interesting indeed. "What's a Mutinous?" asked Iff, curiously. "Is it a plant?" Mali inquired.
"You don't understand," Haroun tried to say. "It's an Adjective."
"Nonsense," said the Water Genie. "Adjectives can't talk."
"Money talks, they say," Haroun found himself arguing (all this argument around him was proving infectious), "so why not Adjectives? Come to that, why not anything?"

Related Characters: Haroun Khalifa (speaker), Iff (speaker), Mali (speaker), Bagha, Goopy
Page Number: 118
Explanation and Analysis:

Haroun and the Guppee army are speeding across the Ocean towards the Land of Chup, loudly debating whether it's better to prioritize saving Batcheat or the Ocean. Haroun has been raised in Alfibay, where he's not used to hearing such debate in the first place, but also where debate like this would certainly come with consequences. Through what he experiences both in this moment and in thinking about what the implications of free speech are (and seeing the positive effects of such at the end of the novel), Haroun begins to develop an understanding of the true power of language.

Additionally, this passage showcases how the novel engages with language in a playful but serious way. The characters are debating the seriousness of free speech, but they're also having a rather ridiculous debate regarding parts of speech, what parts of speech can do or stand for, and how different individuals can interpret language in different ways.

"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

"All my life I've heard about the wonderful Sea of Stories, and Water Genies, and everything; but I started believing only when I saw Iff in my bathroom the other night. And now that I've actually come to Kahani and seen with my own eyes how beautiful the Ocean is, with its Story Streams in colours whose names I don't even know, and its Floating Gardeners and Plentimaw Fishes and all, well, it turns out I may be too late, because the whole Ocean's going to be dead any minute if we don't do something. And it turns out that I don't like the idea of that, sir, not one bit. I don't like the idea that all the good stories in the world will go wrong for ever and ever, or just die. As I say, I only just started believing in the Ocean, but maybe it isn't too late for me to do my bit."

Related Characters: Haroun Khalifa (speaker), Rashid Khalifa, Iff, General Kitab
Page Number: 137
Explanation and Analysis:

General Kitab has asked for a volunteer to investigate the second Khattam-Shud's activities and the Ocean's poisoning in the Old Zone. Haroun offers to go, and delivers this speech explaining why. Through this speech, Haroun begins to answer the guiding question of the novel regarding the purpose of stories. He's seen, first of all, how beautiful the physical embodiment of these stories is. This experience builds upon a lifetime of hearing these stories, which have surely provided guidance, entertainment, and fun to Haroun's life before he even believed in Kahani's existence.

Mudra's explanation of what happens when absolute silence is enforced has also certainly influenced Haroun. In addition to hearing about the mayhem and distrust caused by mandatory silence, Haroun has seen the terrifying effects of the Ocean's poisoning firsthand through his Princess Rescue Story experience. All of these experiences culminate in Haroun realizing the value of stories and of preserving them for future generations. When expanded to incorporate not just the events of the novel itself but the novel as a whole and stories in general, this speech turns into a passionate cry against the effects of censorship, so that stories might be enjoyed by all, whatever their use.

"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.

Chapter 9 Quotes

"It's our own fault," he wept. "We are the Guardians of the Ocean, and we didn't guard it. Look at the Ocean, look at it! The oldest stories ever made, and look at them now. We let them rot, we abandoned them, long before this poisoning. We lost touch with our beginnings, with our roots, our Wellspring, our Source. Boring, we said, not in demand, surplus to requirements. And now, look, just look! No colour, no life, no nothing. Spoilt!"

Related Characters: Iff (speaker), Haroun Khalifa, Khattam-Shud, Mali
Page Number: 146
Explanation and Analysis:

Haroun, Iff, and Butt have just been captured by Chupwalas and are being drawn through the weed jungle towards what they'll soon find out is Khattam-Shud's ship. Haroun's story can be considered a cautionary tale for what happens when a culture ceases to preserve and protect their history and oldest stories. The weed jungle and the cold, colorless Ocean act as physical representations of these forgotten cultural texts, while Khattam-Shud's entire operation shows what can then be done to the stories once they're forgotten. Iff is correct that stories can rot and decay if they're deemed boring, surplus, or no longer necessary (and then aren't told), but Khattam-Shud takes it one step further. He sees the opportunity to co-opt these old stories and poison them, and since they're no longer popular and in circulation, it becomes ridiculously easy to turn them around and use them for evil.

"But this is all too fanciful for words," he told himself. "A boat made out of shadows? A shadow-ship? Don't be nuts." But the idea kept nagging at him, and wouldn't let go. Look at the edges of everything here, said a voice in his head. The edges of the poison tanks, the crane, the ship itself. Don't they look, well, fuzzy? That's what shadows are like; even when they're sharp, they're never as sharp-edged as real, substantial things.

Related Characters: Haroun Khalifa (speaker), Khattam-Shud, Iff
Page Number: 152
Explanation and Analysis:

Haroun and Iff are being shown onto Khattam-Shud's ship in the Old Zone of the Ocean. Haroun and Iff have been warned that since Khattam-Shud can separate himself from his shadow, he can be in two places at once, and here Haroun is confronted with the instinct that he's dealing with the shadow version.

Throughout the novel, Haroun has been on a journey in which he's not only attempting to save his father and stories, but in which he's also learning to trust himself. Haroun makes many observations about his surroundings, but this situation is extremely important to his growth and development. Through this mental nagging, Haroun is learning to trust in not just the logic he grew up with in Alfibay, but in the nonsensical, storybook logic of Kahani. This, in turn, allows Haroun to triumph, as he wins the war by accepting and working within the absurdity of Kahani.

Chapter 10 Quotes

We must make a great many poisons, because each and every story in the Ocean needs to be ruined in a different way. To ruin a happy story, you must make it sad. To ruin an action drama, you must make it move too slowly. To ruin a mystery you must make the criminal's identity obvious even to the most stupid audience..."

Related Characters: Khattam-Shud (speaker), Haroun Khalifa, Iff
Page Number: 160
Explanation and Analysis:

Khattam-Shud is explaining to Haroun and Iff how he and his Chupwala minions are going about manufacturing poisons to target individual stories in the Ocean. This is one situation in which the novel engages in a very direct way with storytelling elements and conventions, and asks in a more roundabout way what makes a good story. Khattam-Shud has evidently figured out how to make individual types of stories into bad stories, which will in turn mean that those stories aren't then told. This take on censorship varies greatly from what Khattam-Shud is enforcing in Chup with the Silence Laws, as he doesn't need to enforce silence to end these stories—he must merely make them unlikable, unsuccessful, and boring.

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Iff Character Timeline in Haroun and the Sea of Stories

The timeline below shows where the character Iff appears in Haroun and the Sea of Stories. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 3: The Dull Lake
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...man refuses, Haroun threatens to wake Rashid, and the little man finally introduces himself as Iff the Water Genie, from the Ocean of the Streams of Story. Haroun is shocked that... (full context)
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Iff continues that the scheme is perfect, as letters never arrive to the Grand Comptroller, also... (full context)
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Haroun asks Iff to take him to Gup City to see the Walrus so he can fix the... (full context)
Chapter 4: An Iff and a Butt
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Iff commands Haroun to pick a bird, to which Haroun points out that the peacock bed... (full context)
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Iff reaches into his pocket and pulls out a handful of tiny birds and instructs Haroun... (full context)
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...somehow hairy, and he thinks of Mr. Butt, the mail coach driver. Haroun yells at Iff and asks if the bird is a machine. The Hoopoe turns its head, looks directly... (full context)
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...appears to be made of only colorful liquid. As they land in the warm water, Iff says that they're in the Ocean of the Streams of Story. (full context)
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Haroun, noticing that there's no land in sight, accuses Iff of playing a trick on him. Iff explains that they're taking a shortcut to avoid... (full context)
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Iff explains to Haroun that the Ocean of the Streams of Story is made up of... (full context)
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Haroun wakes to find Iff next to him, looking worried. Iff asked if the story went as planned, and if... (full context)
Chapter 5: About Guppees and Chupwalas
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As Haroun, Butt, and Iff journey towards Gup City, Haroun considers that many ideas he formerly considered mere fiction are... (full context)
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Haroun asks Iff to tell him about Khattam-Shud, and Iff replies with Rashid's exact words, that Khattam-Shud is... (full context)
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...numerous mechanical flying birds all rushing the same direction, with Water Genies on their backs. Iff says that something serious has happened, as everyone is being called back to base, making... (full context)
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Iff and the Gardener exchange greetings, and Haroun notes that the Gardener isn't very talkative. Iff... (full context)
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...that the Ocean is starting to hurt, and that their names are Bagha and Goopy. Iff tells Haroun that these fish may seem talkative, but are actually much quieter than usual... (full context)
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Iff tells Haroun that Plentimaw Fish swallow stories, and in their bellies, the stories mix and... (full context)
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...The Palace of King Chattergy, the Parliament of Gup, and the P2C2E House. Butt drops Iff and Haroun off at the edge of the Lagoon in the Pleasure Garden. Haroun notices... (full context)
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Iff gestures to the balcony of the palace, pointing out General Kitab, a court Speaker, King... (full context)
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Iff turns to Haroun and tells him that with the war, the Walrus won't have time... (full context)
Chapter 6: The Spy's Story
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...and as he goes, he hears Guppees muttering both about Rashid and Batcheat's poor singing. Iff follows, imploring Haroun to be patient, and Haroun angrily asks Iff what Guppees do to... (full context)
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...nose and teeth. The Walrus asks what Batcheat was doing in the Twilight Strip, and Iff offers that many young people go to the Twilight Strip to see the stars. (full context)
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...off. Bolo angrily asks Rashid why he did nothing, and the other dignitaries look pained. Iff, seeing Haroun's anger, whispers that they don't let princes do anything important and not to... (full context)
Chapter 7: Into the Twilight Strip
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...one won't go wrong. Blabbermouth mentions that she took the Disconnecting Tool from Haroun for Iff. Haroun is deflated, but Blabbermouth notes that since Rashid is in Gup City himself, he... (full context)
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...with the Royal Pages. Haroun notices Rashid, also still wearing his nightshirt, standing next to Iff, Disconnecting Tool in hand. As Haroun reaches them, Iff makes a jab at Haroun's theft... (full context)
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Rashid and Haroun board Butt the Hoopoe with Iff, and Haroun introduces his father to Mali, Goopy, and Bagha. As the entire Guppee army... (full context)
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...the Ocean before Batcheat, and Haroun, shocked, says that it sounds like mutinous talk. Curious, Iff, the Plentimaw Fish, and Mali ask what a Mutinous is. Haroun tries to explain that... (full context)
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...of all. Haroun remarks that Guppees couldn't keep a secret to save their lives, and Iff offers that they could tell secrets, and that he knows many that are quite juicy.... (full context)
Chapter 8: Shadow Warriors
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Haroun, Iff, Goopy, Bagha, Mali, and Butt make their way through the Twilight Strip to the Southern... (full context)
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...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... (full context)
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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... (full context)
Chapter 9: The Dark Ship
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Iff, Butt, and Haroun are pulled slowly forward, but Haroun cannot think of what they’re being... (full context)
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The dark waters splash as Butt is brought to a halt, and one of Iff's slippers falls into the water and is quickly eaten by the acid, horrifying Haroun. Haroun... (full context)
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...In front of them is what looks like a wall of night. 13 Chupwalas surround Iff, Butt, and Haroun, and all of these are scrawny and "weaselly-looking," with black cloaks bearing... (full context)
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The Chupwalas lead Butt to a gangway so Haroun and Iff can board the ship. Two Chupwalas remove Butt's brain box amidst Butt's cries, and with... (full context)
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Iff and Haroun are pushed towards a large hatchway, and out of the doors comes Khattam-Shud.... (full context)
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...is actually Mr. Sengupta, who stole Soraya, and demands to know where he's hiding her. Iff calms Haroun and tells him that this is definitely Khattam-Shud, not Mr. Sengupta. (full context)
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...swords and fire, before shrinking back to his original form. He then says that since Iff and Haroun are spies, they should see what they came to see. He turns towards... (full context)
Chapter 10: Haroun's Wish
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...stairs, suddenly the darkness created by the darkbulbs switches off and turns to twilight, and Iff and Haroun can see into the ship. They follow Khattam-Shud into the ship's belly, and... (full context)
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...poison to properly ruin it, and suggests how one can ruin different types of stories. Iff mutters that to ruin an Ocean of Stories, you add a Khattam-Shud. The Cultmaster continues... (full context)
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After 11 minutes, Haroun stops listening but continues following Khattam-Shud and Iff. He starts paying attention again when he hears Khattam-Shud mention "the Plug." Khattam-Shud explains to... (full context)
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Haroun reaches into his other pocket and pulls out the half-full bottle of Wishwater that Iff had given him earlier. Haroun drinks the water, thinking it might take more than 11... (full context)
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...begin to shrink and melt, and the ship is doing the same. Haroun, yelling for Iff and Mali, runs up the gangway. When he reaches the deck, it feels like tar... (full context)
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Iff declares that Butt has blown a fuse and Haroun feels responsible for ruining Butt. Iff... (full context)
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Haroun wonders out loud what happened to Khattam-Shud, and Iff shrugs and says that he certainly melted like the other shadows. Haroun thinks of everyone... (full context)
Chapter 11: Princess Batcheat
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...happily accepts. Water Genies sent to search the Ocean soon locate Butt the Hoopoe, Haroun, Iff, Mali, Goopy, and Bagha. The party is reunited with Rashid and Blabbermouth on the shores... (full context)
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In Gup City, Iff, Mali, Goopy, and Bagha are all promoted and given joint responsibility for cleaning up the... (full context)
Chapter 12: Was It the Walrus?
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...to the Walrus why his wish was necessary. Winding through the wild party, Haroun spots Iff dancing. Iff refuses to argue with the Walrus. Haroun, disappointed, heads for the second wedding... (full context)
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...isn't alone. He's surrounded by King Chattergy, Prince Bolo, Princess Batcheat, Mudra, Blabbermouth, General Kitab, Iff, Mali, and Rashid, all smiling, and video monitors with the smiling faces of Goopy, Bagha,... (full context)
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...kisses Haroun, who is quite pleased. At the edge of the Lagoon, Haroun, Rashid, and Iff board Butt and wave goodbye to everyone else. It occurs to Haroun that Rashid surely... (full context)