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Saboteur

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Lindsey Bennett

on 30 January 2013

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Transcript of Saboteur

Saboteur Ha Jin About The Author: Critics Plot Complication Climax Denouement Exposition Setting: Ha Jin's Saboteur takes place in China, during Communist times.

- The Protagonist is Mr. Chiu
- In writing Saboteur Ha Jin wrote mainly in first person point of view; focusing mainly on Mr. Chiu's thoughts, and actions. Though, few other characters' thoughts were expressed as well. In Ha Jin's Saboteur Mr. Chiu has an external conflict of man vs. society. The conflict arises when two railroad policemen wrongfully accuse Mr. Chiu of a crime.

- The antagonists are the policemen, and others who are "supposed to" instill order. The climax of the story occurs when Mr. Chiu finds that his lawyer has been chained up to the backyard upon his rescue. Mr. Chiu is told that he will not be released unless he admits to his accused crime, and his lawyer will consequentially "Continue his education in the sunshine." Chiu realizes he has no choice but to succumb to such inconceivable terms. The Resolution sets in with the release of Mr. Chiu and Fenjin. Mr. Chiu is so angered at the circumstances he has just wrongfully endured, that he takes it out on society. Once he and Fenjin are released Mr. Chiu goes galabanting from restaurant to restaurant seething in his rage, saying through his teeth "If only I could kill all the bastards!" Mr. Chiu purposefully tastes, but does not finish his last soup knowing that the restaurants are not wasteful.

The irony is that as Mr. Chiu, defending his innocence, says "Your men are the saboteurs of our social order." While at the end of the story Mr. Chiu, himself turns into a saboteur of society when he consciously infects over 800 innocent people with acute hepatitis, killing 6. Saboteur is filled with irony upon irony. The historical background is set after the Chinese Cultural Revolution. Which underlines the irony in what was left of Chinese society. The main character Chiu Maguang is a well educated "scholar, philosopher, and an expert in dialectical materialism" who is outraged at his society's lawmen. Despite his effort's of defiance against the policemen he is imprisoned for two days, and forced to sign a "self-criticism." Mr. Chiu tries to threaten the chief, talking of what may appear in the media, but the chief laughs calling his accusations fiction. Thus, although the Chinese Cultural Revolution saw its end, society was still not in order; those of physical strength had more authority over the educated intellectuals.

From enotes.com Quiz 1) True or False: Mr. Chiu said "You're a saboteur, you know that? You're disrupting public order."

2) From the story, who says: "That statement is groundless. You have no witness. Why should I believe you?"

a. Mr. Chiu
b. Fenjin
c. the Chief
d. Ricky Bobby

3) True or False: Mr. Chiu is a very intellectual man.

4) Where does Mr. Chiu work?

a. Harbin University
b. a Shipyard
c. in Landscaping
d. as a Butcher

5) What is the definition of unperturbed from the passage:

"His desire for peace of mind originated in his fear that his hepatitis might get worse. He tried to remain unperturbed.


a. bothered
b. undisturbed
c. distracted
d. angry 1) True or False: Mr. Chiu said "You're a saboteur, you know that? You're disrupting public order."

2) From the story, who says: "That statement is groundless. You have no witness. Why should I believe you?"

a. Mr. Chiu
b. Fenjin
c. the Chief
d. Ricky Bobby

3) True or False: Mr. Chiu is a very intellectual man.

4) Where does Mr. Chiu work?

a. Harbin University
b. a Shipyard
c. in Landscaping
d. as a Butcher

5) What is the definition of unperturbed from the passage:

"His desire for peace of mind originated in his fear that his hepatitis might get worse. He tried to remain unperturbed.


a. bothered
b. undisturbed
c. distracted
d. angry Quiz Answers: Theme and Meaning:

The first few paragraphs of Saboteur take readers into a "Kafkaesque" world. Where unprovoked action, and nameless crimes put individuals in situations beyond their control or expalanation. This makes Ha Jin's story an existentialist tale, where the protagonist must grasp control over his life in a seemingly meaningless society. What seems to insinuate a macabre ending is Chiu's poetic justice on the people, is on the philosophical level, because he attempts to assert his individual importance in a world where the individual is worthless. Ha Jin also incorporates political dimension into Saboteur, and its possible to read this story as an indictment of communist Chinese society. The police arrest Mr. Chiu as a flaunt of their power; he is powerless against their injust actions, even though he is a Communist Party member. The irony is that Chiu believes in the communist dogma, which states that all people are equal under the law; his experience teaches him the emptiness of that platitude. Authorities in other areas of the country don't seem to fear any form of possible retribution brought on by national leaders. In their region, they are, in essence, petty kings.

Throughout Ha Jin's story he demonstrates what commonly happens when those of power ruthlessly deal with those under them. While in jail Chiu settles into his role as a victim; although he never fully accepts that status entirely, he soon accomodates and even seems to be impressed with his captors' ability to conjure up a case against him. Upon being released, however, instead of seeking the justice of a higher authority and the reestablishment of social order, he in turn, becomes a perpetrator of evil. His behavior towards the innocent people of Muji is as reprehensible as that of the police who had arrested him without cause.

The central literary device used in Saboteur is irony. Readers can infer from the beginning that actions and consequences are disconnected and arbitrary. Mr. Chiu's arrest is ironic because of his innocence, and the willingness of Muji citizens to come forward against a visitor in their city is ironic because they don't know him. The arrest and harrassment of Fenjin is ironic because he had come to Chiu's rescue. Chiu's revenge on Muji citizens is ironic because by doing so he has become just like his captors, someone who inflicts punishment on others just because he can.
Ha Jin's way of conveying irony is particulary effective by his use of simple sentences to relate facts and conclusions; an understated style of writing.

Another principal literary device subtly used by Jin is his use of sickness as a metaphor. Chiu's hepatitis is a symbol of the sickness of Communist China. Although it goes into remission at times, his sickness has invaded his entire body, and returns with a vengeance when he is under stress. So it is, the story implies, with China as a whole. China is suffering from its own form of disease; communism, which is degrading its vitality. The disease can break out into an epidemic with disastrous consequences, given the right circumstances.

Critical essay by: Laurence W. Mazzeno from the Literary Reference Center
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