Haroun and the Sea of Stories

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The Mail Coach driver who drives Haroun and Rashid from the Town of G to the Valley of K. He's very excitable and drives extremely fast and recklessly. He corresponds to Butt the Hoopoe on Kahani, as they share the same voice and the penchant for adding "but but but" to the beginnings of their sentences.

Mr. Butt Quotes in Haroun and the Sea of Stories

The Haroun and the Sea of Stories quotes below are all either spoken by Mr. Butt or refer to Mr. 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:
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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 2 Quotes

"It was a figure of speech," Mr. Butt replied. "But but but I will stand by it! A figure of speech is a shifty thing; it can be twisted or it can be straight. But Butt's a straight man, not a twister. What's your wish, my young mister?"

Related Characters: Mr. Butt (speaker), Haroun Khalifa, Rashid Khalifa
Page Number: 33
Explanation and Analysis:

Haroun is at the Bus Depot in the Town of G, waiting while Rashid purchases tickets to the Valley of K, and has just met Mr. Butt. Mr. Butt tells Haroun he's “at his service” as a figure of speech, but Haroun takes him at his word and proceeds to ask him for a favor.

The exchange between Haroun and Mr. Butt begins to explore the intricacies of language. Mr. Butt chooses to allow "at your service" to actually mean what it means, rather than exist only as a figure of speech. Further, the use of rhyme here, while subtler than other instances in the novel, denotes the importance of the phrase for the reader. Essentially, the use of verse nestled within prose flags this as something that requires further attention, while also adding to the overall theme of wordplay and absurdity.

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"'Need to stop?' he bellowed over his shoulder. "'Need to go so quickly?' Well, my sirs, I'll tell you this: Need's a slippery snake, that's what it is. The boy here says that you, sir, Need A View Before Sunset, and maybe it's so and maybe no. And some might say that the boy here Needs A Mother, and maybe it's so and maybe no. And it's been said of me that Butt Needs Speed, but but but it may be that my heart truly needs a Different Sort of Thrill. O, Need's a funny fish: it makes people untruthful. They all suffer from it, but they will not always admit. Hurrah!"

Related Characters: Mr. Butt (speaker), Haroun Khalifa, Rashid Khalifa, Soraya Khalifa
Page Number: 36
Explanation and Analysis:

Haroun has just asked Mr. Butt if he's forgotten to stop the Mail Coach to deliver and pick up the mail. Mr. Butt's speech is very characteristic of the playful style of language in the novel. The text reads somewhat differently depending on whether it's read or heard, which ties in ideas of reading as simultaneously a communal activity and a highly personal one. Hearing it, one may have an easier time picking up on the subtle rhyming at play, while when reading it, the reader becomes aware of the use of capitalization to indicate important words or phrases. The capitalization takes simple words and ideas and elevates them from whatever they may be (noun, adjective) to proper noun status. This style choice is utilized throughout, and by setting up the expectation that some common words that are important (or concepts that are being converted into or considered as concrete things) will be capitalized, it adds extra weight when something that seems as though it should be important isn't capitalized, as in the case of Haroun's sad city.

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Mr. Butt Character Timeline in Haroun and the Sea of Stories

The timeline below shows where the character Mr. Butt appears in Haroun and the Sea of Stories. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 2: The Mail Coach
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...abundance of feather-like hair on his head and face. The man introduces himself as Mr. Butt, a Mail Coach driver, and tells Haroun he's at his service. Haroun replies that there... (full context)
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When Rashid reemerges from the ticket office, Haroun and Mr. Butt are waiting in the Mail Coach. Rashid and the other passengers are impressed, and Mr.... (full context)
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...is silent with fear. Roadside signs warning of the danger no longer rhyme, and Mr. Butt has gone silent to concentrate on his driving. Suddenly a cloud appears in the road,... (full context)
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Mr. Butt stops the Mail Coach on the far side of the tunnel so that the passengers... (full context)
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As the Mail Coach descends into the valley, Mr. Butt drives slowly, saying there's no need for speed now that Haroun and Rashid have had... (full context)
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...Coach arrives in the bus depot after dark, and as Haroun and Rashid disembark, Mr. Butt says he'll be there when they return to drive them home. Rather than being greeted... (full context)
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...the lake, a boat in the shape of a swan is waiting for them. Mr. Buttoo tells Haroun and Rashid that they'll be staying in the finest houseboat on the lake,... (full context)
Chapter 4: An Iff and a Butt
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...into the bird's feathers, that the feathers seem somehow hairy, and he thinks of Mr. Butt, the mail coach driver. Haroun yells at Iff and asks if the bird is a... (full context)
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As they travel through the sky, Haroun spots something in the distance, which Butt says is Kahani, the earth's second moon. Haroun asks how it has gone so long... (full context)
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...taking a shortcut to avoid bureaucratic processes, and will use Wishwater to fix Haroun's problem. Butt paddles towards a bright patch of golden water, and Iff scoops up some water in... (full context)
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...and if Haroun doesn't like Princess Rescue Stories. Haroun shares what happened, and Iff and Butt look very serious. Iff gravely says that the story took the turn it did because... (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... (full context)
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...across the Twilight Strip into the Perpetual Night. Haroun asks for clarification on geography, and Butt explains that the Eggheads at P2C2E house brought Kahani's rotation under control so that the... (full context)
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...Disconnecting Tool. Haroun's attention is again diverted as some sort of vegetation races next to Butt in the water, and he asks what it is. Butt replies that it's a Floating... (full context)
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...for a gardener. Haroun introduces himself, and the Gardener introduces himself as Mali. Mali, with Butt's help, explains to Haroun that the Ocean is like a head of hair, and Gardeners... (full context)
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...with dozens of mouths all over, sucking in Story Streams and spitting them out again. Butt tells Haroun that they're Plentimaw Fishes, and they partner for life. To express this union,... (full context)
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...Wellspring, is located there, and Iff wails that they've ignored the Source for too long. Butt interrupts, telling its passengers that Gup City is ahead. (full context)
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...of Gup: 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.... (full context)
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...an insignificant moustache. Haroun whispers to Iff that the bald man reminds him of Mr. Buttoo, and then asks who the man is. Other bald men turn to look at Haroun... (full context)
Chapter 7: Into the Twilight Strip
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Rashid and Haroun board Butt the Hoopoe with Iff, and Haroun introduces his father to Mali, Goopy, and Bagha. As... (full context)
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...him from the cold, and thinks he's gone from the frying pan into the fire. Butt disagrees and says that it's a case of "out of the fridge into the freezer,"... (full context)
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Haroun thinks that if soldiers behaved this way on Earth, they'd be reprimanded quickly. Butt asks what the point of freedom of speech is if people aren't allowed to use... (full context)
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...starts to feel fatalistic and fears that their mission is suicidal and they'll never win. Butt kindly tells Haroun that he's suffering from a Heart-Shadow, which happens to people the first... (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 Polar Ocean. They see that... (full context)
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...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... (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 hiss and... (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 taken... (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... (full context)
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...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 Khattam-Shud's... (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... (full context)
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...although this Shadow is three dimensional and very lifelike. One of Khattam-Shud's minions hands Khattam-Shud Butt's brain box, and the Cultmaster quietly murmurs that he'll now be able to unravel the... (full context)
Chapter 10: Haroun's Wish
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...his mouth, scattering shrieking and cursing Chupwalas who are blinded by the light. Haroun grabs Butt's brain-box from Khattam-Shud and runs for the cupboard of diving suits. He tries frantically to... (full context)
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...against a pocket in his nightshirt and feels something in there. He knows he put Butt's brain-box in another pocket, and then realizes what's in this pocket and knows what he... (full context)
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Returning to the surface, Haroun notices that he's come up right next to the disabled Butt the Hoopoe. He sees a search party of Chupwalas looking for him heading towards the... (full context)
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...Haroun wishes that Kahani would turn and the sun would shine down on the ship. Butt says that Haroun's willpower is now up against the Processes Too Complicated To Explain. (full context)
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Haroun lies on Butt's back, concentrating, for 11 minutes, at which point the Chupwala search team notices him. As... (full context)
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...(and softened) cauldrons and escape. The three of them race down the gangway and onto Butt's back. Butt swims quickly away from the ship and into the weeds, and then a... (full context)
Chapter 11: Princess Batcheat
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...a messenger, and Blabbermouth 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... (full context)
Chapter 12: Was It the Walrus?
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...party on the Lagoon. Mali is serenading an audience with another of his songs from Butt the Hoopoe's back, but pauses to tell Haroun that he can't help. Butt calls after... (full context)
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...and Rashid, all smiling, and video monitors with the smiling faces of Goopy, Bagha, and Butt the Hoopoe. Haroun, perplexed, asks if he's in trouble or not, sending the entire room... (full context)
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...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 missed his... (full context)
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...his nightshirt. He sees the swan boat coming at them across the lake, and Mr. Buttoo's yelling interrupts Rashid as Rashid begins to tell Haroun that he had a strange dream.... (full context)
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...asks Rashid if he can remember his dream, but Rashid brushes him off, greets Mr. Buttoo, and tells Haroun to get dressed, ignoring Haroun's continued urgings to remember his dream. (full context)
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The narrator reminds the reader that Mr. Buttoo expected Rashid to win the people's support for him by telling happy, praising stories. Mr.... (full context)
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...when he sings Mali's songs. When Rashid talks about Khattam-Shud, the audience stares at Mr. Buttoo and his henchmen, who look very unhappy. After the fall of the two Khattam-Shuds in... (full context)
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...tells it that with the way things are now, he doesn't need to go anywhere. Butt replies in a miniature voice, "but but but, no problem," and Haroun falls asleep. When... (full context)