Botchan, a very impulsive, unsophisticated young man from Tokyo. Sometime after the death of his parents, he accepts a job as a mathematics teacher in a junior high school in a small town on the island of Shikoku. His innocence is threatened repeatedly by the school’s rambunctious students, devious and fractious teachers, and cravenly weak administrators. His personality and values conflict with those of the small town, and he lasts less than a year at the school. Botchan gets into one scrape after another but leaves with his honor and innocence intact after giving Red Shirt and Clown a well-deserved physical drubbing with the help of his friend, Porcupine.
Kiyo, a longtime servant of Botchan’s family who dotes on her young master and wants to keep house for him. She advises Botchan, sends him money, and serves as his mother figure and standard of values.
Badger, the principal of the school. He studiously assumes an air of superiority and encourages Botchan to become a model teacher and mentor. He cannot live up to the ideal he requires of others, however, and is easily manipulated by Red Shirt.
Red Shirt, the school’s head teacher, a two-faced man who lies and connives to ruin other teachers and force them out of the school. He engineers Koga’s transfer to another school to steal Miss Toyama’s love, makes Botchan...
(The entire section is 464 words.)