When the word love is said, many things come to mind; flowers, hearts, warmth. These things are all often representative of romantic love, but only occasionally the love of friendship and family love are thought of. In Salman Rushdie’s Haroun and the Sea of Stories, the novel greatly revolves around the theme of love, specifically around how the three main types of love: family, friendship, and romantic love, are an important factor in plot development.
Firstly, the plot of Haroun and the Sea of Stories is developed through the love within a family. The novel begins with Haroun and his family, and how his family’s love for each other is a huge contrast to the sad city he lives in. When this changes, the plot of the novel is changed drastically, which can be seen when Rushdie writes, “After his mother left home, Haroun found that he couldn’t keep his mind on anything for very long, or, to be precise, for more than eleven minutes at a time” (Rushdie 23). When Soraya leaves, Haroun learns his life has been changed as he can no longer focus. This advances the plot as Haroun and Rashid have to leave town to tell a story for Mr.
Buttoo, where Haroun meets Iff the Water Genie and travel to Kahani. As most of the story takes place in Kahani, the plot would not have developed as much if family love, and or the lack thereof, were not present in the novel. Additionally, the family love between just Haroun and Rashid also has a great effect on the plot. This is demonstrated when Rashid is brought to the balcony in Gup City, and Haroun rushes forwards and shouts, “He’s not a spy… He’s my father, and the only thing wrong with him is that he’s lost the Gift of the Gab” (98). When his father is perceived to be a spy, Haroun is willing to put himself in potential danger to defend his dad. This action by Haroun turns out to be key for the plot as it leads him to be escorted to the throne room where Rashid tells his story of how he arrived in Gup City.
If Haroun had not had the love that he does for his father, the Guppees might not have listened to Rashid and they would not have been able to save the Ocean of Stories and Batcheat. Although family love is very important to the story in Haroun and the Sea of Stories, the love of friendship also plays a significant role. Secondly, the love between friends can be found throughout the novel, and greatly impacts how the story progresses. The main example of this is between Haroun and Iff the Water Genie. Before boarding the Dark Ship, Iff provides Haroun with his Bright-a-Lite, and Rushdie writes, “Haroun whispered back. ‘Have you got one as well?’ But Iff did not reply, and Haroun understood that the Water Genie had given Haroun the only such device he possessed” (150).
As the novel progresses, Haroun and Iff become closer friends and their love as friends for each other increases. At this point in the story, they are good friends and Iff is willing to make sacrifices for Haroun, such as giving him his only Bright-a-Lite. This act of kindness is demonstrative of the love between friends while also developing the plot.
Because Haroun is given the Bright-a-Lite, he is able to escape the Dark Ship using it, and ultimately save Kahani and the Ocean of Stories from being poisoned. Similarly, the plot of the novel is also affected by the friendship between Haroun and Mali. When Haroun and Iff are in the lower deck of the Dark Ship, it seemed like there was no more to be done. When Mali arrives this attitude changes, shown when Rushdie notes, “Haroun’s heart gave a great leap of joy. ‘M… ‘ he began, but he held his tongue” (163). After Mail escapes capture, he floats to the Dark Ship to help Haroun and Iff because of the friendship they formed. This is significant as Mali is the one who ends up breaking the generators of the ship, which allows for Haroun to escape in order to save the Ocean.
Alongside the love between friends in the novel is romantic love, also having a important role in plot development. Thirdly, romantic love is a large factor in plot advancement in Haroun and the Sea of Stories, mainly demonstrated by Prince Bolo and Princess Batcheat. This is proven when Bolo declares, “Just as my great passion, my Amour, leads me to Batcheat, always towards Batcheat, so this boy’s destiny is to rescue what he loves: that is, the Ocean of Stories” (138). In this section of the novel, along with a majority of the rest of the novel, Bolo is obsessed with Batcheat and talks about her all the time. This romantic relationship between the two has a great effect on how the story proceeds.
Because Batcheat is kidnapped, Bolo insists on her rescue over saving the sea, which leads to the group splitting up, and eventually ends with the defeat of Khattam-Shud. Additionally, in this passage of the novel, Bolo relates his romantic love to Haroun’s love for the Sea of Stories, allowing for Haroun to rescue the ocean, while Bolo rescues Batcheat. Furthermore, another example of romantic love in the novel is the love Blabbermouth has for Mudra. Because Blabbermouth has as liking for Mudra, she chooses to go with him and the others to save Batcheat. This is exhibited when Rushdie writes, “Haroun had wanted to take Blabbermouth, but a shyness overcame him, and besides, she seemed to want to stay with Mudra the Shadow Warrior” (138). This is significant for the plot because she is able to save their lives, when an ambassador from the Chupwalas tries to blow them up and Blabbermouth recognizes and throws the bomb away. If not for Blabbermouth’s romantic love for Mudra, the Guppees might not have won against the Chupwalas and would not have saved Batcheat. Overall, the love of family, friendship, and romance are crucial to the plot development of Haroun and the Sea of Stories and are what make the story what it is.
This novel is a perfect example of how the different types of love are all able to cause great impacts and are equally important in both literature and reality. Love can mean several things to different people, all of which should be considering in day-to-day life.