In English class, we’re reading Haroun and the Sea of Stories by Salman Rushdie. It was basically a novelization of bedtime stories told from Rushdie to his son, and the whimsical and childish magic that’s woven through the tale showed it significantly. On first impression, I could definitely tell why people would call it a children’s book. I found it cute, but a little boring. However, I believe that with the plot picking up, I’ll enjoy it more. It’s neat, since I look at it from a writer’s standpoint, and the book is literally all about stories and the creation of them.
The area that my group is focusing on is Allegories, or deeper symbolism. I noticed a slight pattern between the main conflict in Haroun and an event in Salman Rushdie’s life. The author had gotten into trouble with Middle Eastern authorities for something he wrote in one of his books, and there was an order to kill him for it. They’d wanted to stop Rushdie from telling his story.
In Haroun and the Sea of Stories, Rashid Khalifa’s storytelling ability is magically taken away. I found that this mirrors what actually happened to the author, as he almost had his storytelling taken away, as well – along with his life.
Our discussion in class combined the other focus groups. An interesting conclusion came up at one point – we decided that a story has many layers, like, as we said, ‘a pie within a pie.’ The visible outer layer was purely the story, including the ‘morally good lies’ it’s made of. This was the only layer Mr. Sengupta saw, prompting his question “What’s the point of stories that aren’t even true?” and starting the whole problem.
But what he didn’t see was that stories have deeper layers – allegories and satire and allusions – that make stories so much more than just tall tales told to gullible children. He didn’t bite into the pie, only judged it by its crust. In that same sense, Rashid stopped eating it when Haroun began doubting, and could only from that point on see the outside layer.