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The Allegorical Defiance of Censorship in Rushdie’s Haroun and the Sea of Stories

After releasing his novel, The Satanic Verses (1988), a fatwah was issued against Salman Rushdie, resulting in Rushdie living in isolation and hiding for the remainder of his life. Consequently, Rushdie was plagued by protracted bouts of writer’s block. When he wrote Haroun and the Sea of Stories for his child in 1990, Rushdie was able to emerge out of the rut he had been in for the better part of two decades. Haroun and the Sea of Stories may have been a technique for Haroun to explain his dilemma to his son through metaphor. As a component of the “Old Zone” of the Sea of Stories, Rushdie’s experiences with censorship are shown as a divide between the “Guppees” and the “Chupwalas,” among other things. Even Haroun, who appears in Rushdie’s work as a literary metaphor for himself as an author, is a fictitious character created by Rushdie, as are Princess Batcheat, Prince Bolo, and even Haroun himself (Sandhu,2015). Through metaphor, Rushdie expresses his thoughts on his circumstances and the people responsible for censorship while making subtle jabs at himself and his place in the wider scheme of things. Rushdie’s circumstances inform the book’s content, but the book also addresses the broader issue of censorship, as the author has said. It is not simply a tribute to Rushdie’s kid but also a call to action against author suppression across the globe.

The novel’s most conspicuous aspect is Rushdie’s metaphorical description of the censorship that has plagued his life, and it is the novel’s most instantly detectable topic. “The Land of Gup is bathed in Endless Sunshine, while over in Chup it is always the middle of the night,” say the legends, and “The Land of Chup is drenched in Endless Sunshine, but over in Chup it is always the middle the night,” say the tales” (80). The Chupwala, commanded by Khattam-Shud, aim to contaminate the oceans and potentially wipe language from the globe, whereas the Land of Gup adopts a socialistic approach (Sandhu,2015). As a result, those who live in perpetual light share the tales, while others who live in permanent darkness try to erase or edit them. Rushdie, on the surface, seems to call for a battle between the forces of pure virtue and pure evil as a method of expressing his discontent with the oppression he has endured. It’s impossible to discern between censorship and freedom of expression because the author includes additional portions.

Both sides of the Kahani moon have features that lead people closer to a life in the middle of the road throughout the book by Rushdie. According to the book, it’s all because of the “inventiveness of the Eggheads at P2C2E House,” which provides the Land of Gup censorship as a consequence of its censorship. Without consulting the Chupwalas, the Guppies have determined that they will utilize mechanical means to control the moon and keep the people of Guppeeland in the dark forever (König,2016). In this way, Rushdie seems to be arguing that almost everyone is guilty of some censorship or, at the very least, of a desire to control what they do not like. “Many Chupwalas throw their lot in with the Guppees” as a consequence of this, as the tale goes, are the Chupwalas (185). A few of Chupwalas have said they are only sticking with Shud because they are afraid of being abandoned. For most people, especially Shadow Warrior Mudra, silence is not an option. Mudra makes an effort to talk to Rashid, Haroun, and the Guppies when they meet him. This is an additional benefit. With Mudra, Haroun is able to see “the dance of the Shadow Warrior teach him that silence can be graceful and beautiful (just as words may be graceless and ugly)” when he is observing him (125). Even though Rushdie acknowledges that the Chupwalas communicate in a variety of ways, he thinks their thoughts are frequently smart and even beautiful.

Misdirected hatred is preventing both the Guppies and Chupwalas from seeing how much they have in common: “If Guppees and Chupwalas didn’t have such enmity towards one other, they could really find each other incredibly intriguing” (125). Neither side is interested in learning from the other’s viewpoint since they are so focused on the idea that they are entirely incompatible. By admitting his prejudice in support of the Guppees and their right to free expression, Rushdie also concedes that the two sides are not radically opposed and may learn from one another. There, Rushdie describes the Chupwalas who lived there as having the appearance of “circus clowns” because of their nose warmers. To keep the Pages of Gup warm as they made their way into the Darkness, “Red nosewarmers were distributed to them” (179). As Rashid goes on to say, “really, this is starting to sound like a debate between buffoons.” Rashid says (179). Rushdie portrays both sides of the debate over censorship and free expression as equally bumbling clowns, mocking the friction between the two camps. Both sides seem equally silly during the conflict, even though the Chupwalas, also known as censors, is shown wearing the nose warmers at all times while the Guppies only wear them during combat. He still has a soft spot for the Guppies, judging by the fact that the Chupwalas kept wearing the noses regularly. Regardless of whose side he supports, he feels that the war is senseless and wasteful. Rashid claims that “neither army will even be able to see suitably during the conflict”(180) because of the imbalance in the quantity of light that each army is used to, “neither army will even be able to see correctly during the fight.” They will never see things in the same light again, but this is because of their circumstances and not because of their senses, not because of this. As Rushdie argues throughout the book, modern society is rife with inherent and inescapable inequalities (König,2016). On the other hand, the real struggle continues to be a farce.


König, E. (2016). Cultural imperialism and the fatwa: colonial echoes and postcolonial dialogue in Salman Rushdie’s Haroun and the Sea of Stories. International Fiction Review.

Sandhu, H. K. (2015). Catching Them Young: Sensitising Children with Challenges Before Freedom Of Expression Through Select Literary Texts. Amity Journal of Media & Communications Studies (AJMCS), 4.


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