Saboteur Summary & Study Guide

This Study Guide consists of approximately 21 pages of chapter summaries, quotes, character analysis, themes, and more - everything you need to sharpen your knowledge of Saboteur.
This section contains 427 words
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Saboteur Summary & Study Guide Description

Saboteur Summary & Study Guide includes comprehensive information and analysis to help you understand the book. This study guide contains the following sections:

This detailed literature summary also contains Quotes and a Free Quiz on Saboteur by Ha Jin.

The following version of this story was used to create this study guide: Jin, Ha. Saboteur. The Antioch Review, Vol. 54, No. 4 (Autumn, 1996), pp. 409 - 419.

The story is set in China shortly after the Cultural Revolution. The country is ruled by the totalitarian order of the Chinese Communist Party. The protagonist, Chiu Maguang, is a 34-year-old university professor. He recently married, and on the last day of his honeymoon, he and his wife are in the fictional Chinese city of Muji. They eat lunch in the town square while waiting for their train, which will take them home to the city of Harbin. A police officer, unprovoked, throws a bowl of tea at Chiu. Chiu, indignant, demands to know why the police officer threw the bowl of tea. The officer responds that he did not and that Chiu is lying and is attempting to disrupt public order. The officer and his partner arrest Chiu. Chiu tells his wife to return home and send help.

At the police station, Chiu is interviewed by the chief interrogator. The interrogator dismisses Chiu’s account of what happened. The chief then produces false witness testimonies and says that Chiu cannot leave until he writes and signs a statement of confession, self-criticism, and apology. Chiu, indignant, refuses to do so. Chiu says that he will have justice somehow. The police lock Chiu in a cell. The next day, Chiu attempts to remain calm, but he cannot help but feel anger at the way in which he is being oppressed. Chiu suffered from hepatitis three months prior, and he realizes that the emotional strain of his situation is causing a relapse. He informs a guard of this, but the guard ignores him.

The next day, Chiu looks out of his cell window and sees a man tied to a tree in the station courtyard. He is shocked to realize that he recognizes the man. It is Fenjin, a former student of his. He realizes that his wife must have sent Fenjin to secure his release. Chiu is brought to the chief interrogator, who says that they will torture Fenjin until Chiu signs a statement of self-criticism and apology. Chiu, realizing that he has no choice, signs the document. The police release Chiu and Fenjin. Outside the police station, Chiu feels profound fury and suddenly formulates a plan of revenge. He eats at every nearby restaurant in order to spread his hepatitis. Soon after Chiu leaves Muji, there is an epidemic of hepatitis in Muji that infects 800 people and kills six.

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