Haroun and the Sea of Stories Thesis Statements and Important Quotes

Below you will find five outstanding thesis statements on “Haroun and the Sea of of Stories” by Salman Rushdie that can be used as essay starters or paper topics. All five incorporate at least one of the themes in “Haroun and the Sea of Stories” and are broad enough so that it will be easy to find textual support, yet narrow enough to provide a focused clear thesis statement. These thesis statements offer a short summary of different elements that could be important in an essay but you are free to add your own analysis and understanding of the plot or themes to them. Using the essay topics below in conjunction with the list of important quotes from “Haroun and the Sea of Stories” by Salman Rushdie at the bottom of the page, you should have no trouble connecting with the text and writing an excellent essay. Before you begin, however, please get some useful tips and hints about how to use PaperStarter.com in the brief User’s Guide…you’ll be glad you did.

Thesis Statement / Essay Topic #1: Word Play

The reader notices how humorous this novel is because of its many instances of clever word play. From chapter titles (“The Shah of Blah," and “An Iff and a Butt") to the epigraph at the novel’s opening, Rushdie clearly has fun with words. Consider the various meanings of this playfulness. Write an expository essay in which you develop your own theory about the meaning of the word play in Haroum and the Sea of Stories. Indicate whether it is possible that there may be a deeper meaning to such light and nimble word play.

Thesis Statement / Essay Topic #2: The Role of Stories

Haroum and the Sea of Stories by Salman Rushdie is very much a novel about the role(s) of stories. The opening epigraph of the novel suggests just one function that stories can play: “As I wander far from view/Read, and bring me home to you." Consider the various functions of stories and the ways in which conventional storytelling techniques are juxtaposed against idiosyncratic ones that are entirely of Rushdie’s own imagination. The novel appears to follow a certain traditional (it begins “There was once…") and predictable pattern, but there are important deviations. Identify and explain these in your essay.

Thesis Statement / Essay Topic #3: The Relativity of Truth

When Haroun’s mother, Soraya, abandons Haroun and his father, Rashid the storyteller (or the Shah of Blah), Haroun faces his first serious challenge with respect to the role that stories play in his own young life. He yells at his father, who can’t think of any other profession to pursue, asking, “What’s the use of stories that aren’t even true?" (22). Write an essay in which you explore the meaning of truth, both absolute and relative, with respect to this particular novel. Explain what the author seems to suggest, ultimately, about the nature of truth.

Thesis Statement / Essay Topic #4: Images of Water

On the surface, Haroun and the Sea of Stories appears to be a simplistic, light-hearted novel that reads almost like a children’s tale. Beneath the surface, however, something much more profound is stirring. Straightforward water imagery in “Haroun and the Sea of Stories” is more complex than such an essay topic might seem. One of the ways to dive beneath the surface is to examine the images of water. Consider the images of the Story Water and the Sea of Stories, and explain not just how they function literally in the novel, but how they function symbolically. You may wish to incorporate psychoanalytic theories, if you are familiar with them, in crafting your response to this essay topic.

Thesis Statement/Essay Topic #5: The Journey Motif

The journey is a motif familiar to some of the world’s greatest stories and novels, and it is present in this novel, too. Write an essay in which you describe the different journeys that characters take. The journeys need not be only the literal, physical trips that they take, but the emotional and psychological ones as well. Explain what the destination is, and what the characters learn along the way. Be sure to address what happens when they come home from these journeys. A meta-analysis may also include a treatment of your journey as the reader.


This list of important quotations from “Haroun and the Sea of Stories” by Salman Rushdie will help you work with the essay topics and thesis statements above by allowing you to support your claims. All of the important quotes from “Haroun and the Sea of Stories listed here correspond, at least in some way, to the paper topics above and by themselves can give you great ideas for an essay by offering quotes and explanations about other themes, symbols, imagery, and motifs than those already mentioned and explained. Aside from the thesis statements above, these quotes alone can act as essay questions or study questions as they are all relevant to the text in an important way. All quotes from “Haroun and the Sea of Stories” contain page numbers as well. Look at the bottom of the page to identify which edition of the text they are referring to.

“There was once, in the country of Alifbay, a sad city, the saddest of cities, a city so ruinously sad that it had forgotten its name." (15)

“[B]eyond an old zone of ruined buildings that looked like broken hearts, there lived a happy young fellow by the name of Haroun, the only child of the storyteller Rashid Khalifa, whose cheerfulness was famous throughout that unhappy metropolis…." (15)

“Everything comes from somewhere…so these stories can’t simply come out of thin air…?" (17)

“Straight answers were beyond the powers of Rashid Khalifa, who would never take a short cut if there was a longer, twistier road available." (19)

“Haroun lost his temper and shouted: ‘What’s the point of it? What’s the use of stories that aren’t even true? ." (22)

“It was a figure of speech…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." (33)

“Anybody can tell stories….Liars, and cheats, and crooks, for example. But for stories with that Extra Ingredient, ah, for those, even the best storytellers need the Story Waters." (58)

“So it was that Haroun Khalifa the storyteller’s son soared into the night sky on the back of Butt the Hoopoe with Iff the Water Genie as his guide." (66)

“[T]he magic of the Ocean began to have an effect on Haroun. He looked into the water and saw that it was made up of a thousand thousand thousand and one different currents, each one a different color, weaving in and out of one another like a liquid tapestry of breathtaking complexity…." (71-72)

“[F]or every story, there is an anti-story…." (160)

Reference: Rushdie, Salman. Haroun and the Sea of Stories. New York: Penguin, 1990