, Research Paper
Analyzing a Source That Pertains to Haroun and the Sea of Stories
Haroun and the Sea of Stories is a intriguing tale that could easily be classified as a children’s story, but beneath its surface it shows one man’s struggle to overcome censorship and religious persecution. Mark McDannald of Washington and Lee University has written a series of essays on this story. His work, “The Allegorical Defiance of Censorship in Rushdie’s Haroun and the Sea of Stories,” is an insightful critique on a major literary effort.
He views Haroun and the Sea of Stories as an allegory that expresses Salman Rushdie’s desire to battle censorship in the world of literature, while fulfilling his duties of being a good father to his son. Throughout his essays McDannald remains unbiased, favoring neither Rushdie nor the Fatwa in his analysis. Although he is not the novel’s author, Mr. McDannald uncovers the Rushdie’s underlying intentions and “stories” by employing textual support and certain literary devices while maintaining his objectivity.
According to McDannald, Rushdie has created a novel which itself is like seas of stories. He stresses the author’s artistic use of allegory, which continually enhances the story’s depth and appeal. He sees the story’s primary motif as this use of allegories, even in novel’s title. The hell and repercussions that censorship has visited upon Rashid, the author’s fictional counterpart, are clearly meant to reflect Rushdie s real world after writing The Satanic Verses. McDannald rightly identifies the extreme characteristics of the city of endless sunshine, the Land of Gup, and the Land of Chup, the city stuck in the middle of the night, as being allegorical. Gup and Chup are opposite sides of the moon, and through them, Rushdie
hopes to define a middle ground, a compromise. Rushdie makes it apparent that neither city can thrive in an atmosphere of one solitary idea or belief. He successfully makes the case for openness and debate. His allegories attack censorship and the stunted world it creates, not merely its restraints on one man’s life. He uses light and dark symbolically to vary the political entities in which the people of Gup and Chup live. In accordance with McDannald’s interpretation, the situation as a whole is meaningful in the sense that people strive on many occasions for a medium, but no one wants to budge from their stand point, so a meeting place is never found.
Mark McDannald s essay The Allegorical Defiance of Censorship in Rushdie’s Haroun and the Sea of Stories, is an objective essay and its author remains neutral throughout the entire piece. Although I agree with his conclusions, they are mundane and are obvious to anyone, even the most superficial reader. He is successful at explaining Rushdie s work, but his analysis only describes subjects that are on the novel s surface and he never travels below the book s surface to examine its more intricate parts. The thesis of the novel s main characteristic of being an allegory that describes Rushdie s life and experiences with the Fatwa is something that could be read from the inner cover of the book itself.
Just as Jonathan Swift used Gulliver’s Travels to point out the absurdity and pettiness of Europe’s aristocracy towards the end of the seventeenth century, Rushdie uses a similar vehicle to portray the frailties of our time. Salman Rushdie s tale can be classified along with books such as Gulliver s Travels and Orwell s Animal Farm because it is a social commentary whose target is the censorship of a totalitarian nation. The human condition seems destined to repeat the sins of the past. Not much has changed in almost three hundred years.