Haroun goes on a quest to restore his father's access to the Ocean of the Streams of Story, which has been a vital resource for the stories Rashid Khalifa is famous for telling. This isn't just a quest to restore his father's livelihood, but a quest to restore his father's joy. Haroun's quest resembles many other stories in which a young person travels to magical lands in search of something. On his quest, Haroun travels to a fantastical world—the hidden second Moon of Earth, where the Ocean of the Streams of Story is found. He makes friends along the way, who help him on his journey, although he must face the final task alone. Once the quest is accomplished, Haroun returns home to restoration and healing. His success brings peace both to the magical land and, in some measure, to his real life.
Rashid is a larger-than-life figure in both Haroun's life and in the community. He is sought after for his storytelling ability and known for his cheerful attitude in a very sad city. He is somewhat ego-driven and self-centered, as a famous personality might be inclined to be. Even when his wife stops singing and becomes clearly unhappy, Rashid doesn't seem to notice and continues to travel and perform without attending to his failing marriage. He is shocked and devastated when his wife leaves him. Even though he is presented as an inattentive and inconsiderate husband, Rashid is a sympathetic figure in the novel. He is flawed but good, and deserving of a happy ending (which he gets).
Khattam-Shud is the evil leader of the Chupwalas. He has many names. He demands silence from his subjects (although he himself speaks). Hence, his minions wear the insignia of the zipped lips. Through his dark magic, Khattam-Shud has been able to give his Shadow greater independence and has separated himself from it. Thus, he is able to be in two places at once.
Haroun first meets Iff the Water Genie when the genie sneaks into his father's bedroom on the houseboat on Dull Lake. Iff has been sent there to end Rashid's subscription to the flow of stories from the Ocean of the Streams of Story. Over time, Iff becomes Haroun's friend and guide and accompanies the young hero on his quest to confront Khattam-Shud and save the Ocean of the Streams of Story.
Butt the Hoopoe
Butt the Hoopoe is a mechanical Hoopoe bird. He provides transportation for Iff and Haroun from Earth to Kahani, and then again on the quest to confront Khattam-Shud, rescue Princess Batcheat, and save the Ocean of the Streams of Story. He is a faithful friend and is willing to take considerable personal risk to accomplish the quest—even having his computerized brain taken captive for a time by the forces of Khattam-Shud.