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Short Story Essay
The short story "Saboteur," written by Ha Jin is a story of hypocrisy and bureaucracy. The story takes place in Muji, China during the Cultural Revolution. The setting and period of time is extremely important to the stories meaning. The point of view is third person limited. We only get to see Mr. Chiu's thoughts and feelings. There aren't many characters in this story that really make a difference in the story. The main characters are Mr. Chiu, his bride, the stout policeman, the Chief of the Bureau, and Fenjin. Mr. Chiu is definitely the protagonist of the story. He is described as being a well educated and polite man. We don't find out much about the bride or Fenjin. The only characteristics we find out about the stout policeman is that he is the one that started the fight. In turn we get the understanding that he is ignorant. The author gives us the same feeling towards the chief as the policeman. The only thing we know about Fenjin is that he was the student of Mr. Chui. In this story the characters frequently respond to situations in unexpected and illogical ways. For example, when Mr. Chiu and his bride were sitting at the table, the policeman threw tea at their feet. Another example, is at the end of the story, Mr. Chiu gets his revenge by eating at four different restaurants and infecting the city with hepatitis. Ha Jin uses a lot of comic absurdity in this story. Ha Jin's comedy is persistent but deceptive. Similarly, his description of life in China under communism is made up of amusing incidents that lead to a deadly outcome. The tone of the story is directly connected to the style. At times it is humorous, due to the silliness of the events. At other times it quieter and calmer. The story irritated me a little because I couldn't understand or believe how bizarre the policemen were behaving.
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