Ah Q, an impoverished, homeless man in his late twenties who loafs around the village where he lives and earns his living by working at various odd jobs. Lean and weak, he has a bald spot on his head, a physical blemish caused by scabies that often makes him the butt of jokes among the people of the village of Wei. Whenever he suffers humiliation, however, he is always able to find solace and even triumph through his imagination. He leads a relatively quiet, though obscure and insignificant, life in the countryside until one day when the entire village rejects him as a result of his proposition to a maidservant, Wu Ma. Because of this incident, people avoid him and refuse to give him any work. To continue his livelihood, he leaves for the city. After returning to the village, he is later falsely accused of robbery and eventually is executed.
Chao T’ai-yeh, an influential country squire. Somewhat educated and in middle age, he is greedy and unkind, especially in his treatment of Ah Q, whom he sometimes employs for odd jobs. When the revolution of 1911 breaks out, he safeguards the money of Pai Chü-jen, a gentleman from the city. In the end, some people break into Chao’s house and steal Pai’s money. Chao has to pay a small fortune to the local official to clear his name so as to avoid being accused by Pai of swindling his money.
Pai Chü-jen, a well-educated man of the gentry class living in the city. After leaving the village of Wei, Ah Q serves in his house for a short period of time. Because of his uncertainty about the revolution, Pai sends some of his property to the Chao family for safekeeping when the revolutionaries enter the city. He...
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