A Matter of Character a Critical Analysis of “Saboteur” by Ha Jin

Decent Essays
Ha Jin’s short story “Saboteur” tells of a man who seems discontent, idealistic, and gravely ill. In Muji, Mr. Chui, is accused of sabotage and taken by force to jail after a run in with railroad authorities. His crime is for speaking out against police officers assaulting him and his bride during lunch in the city square. The reader is lead to believe this is a simple case of excessive force by the police, therefore the abuse of power is the catalyst of this short story, but the real story is about Mr. Chui’s contempt for all those around him and his utter lack of integrity.
Mr. Chui is thirty-four, a lecturer at Harbin University, is gaunt, pale, and still recuperating from hepatitis. His bride, a pale girl who wears glasses, is a
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At the railroad police station, he is interrogated for hours by the bureau chief, who demands a confession. Professing his innocence, he is defiant about not signing a letter of self-criticism. “Your police station owes me an apology” (Jin). Feeling sick, his hepatitis flairs under the stress, but he is left imprisoned until Monday when the chief returns.
Monday morning his bride sends a former student of Mr. Chui, Fenji, a lawyer from a small firm of two attorneys to get him out of jail. The young man confronts and insults the chief, who sends him to the yard in the heat to learn some manners. Mr. Chui sees Fenji from his window and feels nauseous “Poor devil, he thought, as he raised a bowl of corn glue to his mouth” (Jin). He realizes he has to sign the confession to get them out of jail. After signing, Mr. Chui is so sick he can barely walk” (Jin), if he were able to he would razed the entire police station and eliminated all their families” (Jin). Once outside, Mr. Chui and Fenji, begin to walk around the station stopping at several restaurants to eat and drink small amounts of food. Fenji watch his teacher mutter to himself and “and for the first time Fenji thought of Mr. Chui as an ugly man.” (Jin). Muji City, a month later, has an outbreak of hepatitis. A man of honor would not endanger others as he has. In conclusion, his contempt is not a grand cause for the good of others it is how he feels about everything. His bride, his
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