What is ironic in the story "Saboteur" by Ha Jin?

1 Answer | Add Yours

carol-davis's profile pic

carol-davis | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted on

Irony abounds in “Saboteur” by Ha Jin. From the beginning of the story’s initial event to the ending of the story, the author cleverly uses an ironic approach. 

Mr. and Mrs. Chiu are enjoying their lunch in a fictional city. They are returning home after their honeymoon.  Mr. Chiu is anxious to get home for two reasons: he has recently recovered from a bout of hepatitis, and he needs to catch up with his work as a teacher.

Mr. Chiu, through a deliberate disruption by police officers who are meant to maintain the public order, confronts a policeman who has spilled a drink all over his leather shoes.  As a result, he is falsely arrested for disruption of the peace and sabotage.  When he is taken to jail, the teacher is manhandled and placed in a jail.  He was to remain there over the week-end until he could face the magistrate. 

No one will listen to him. Mr. Chiu has been defeated by men with much less intellectual powers than Mr. Chiu. Over the course of his prison time, Mr. Chiu becomes more and more ill feeling the effects of the hepatitis again.  The jailers will not listen to him or help him. He tries to remain calm but his anger surges at times.

 

On Monday, Mr. Chiu awoke to the sounds of someone moaning.  It was an amateur lawyer sent by his wife, who has been tied up to a tree and tortured by the police. Instead of the lawyer saving the criminal, Mr. Chiu, sacrificing his innocence, has to sign a false confession to save both himself and the lawyer.

A numb pain stung him in the upper stomach and nauseated him, and his head was throbbing.  He was sure that the hepatitis was finally attacking him. 

Anger was flaming up in his chest; his throat was tight and clogged.

After being let go from the police, Mr.Chiu states that he would like to raze the entire police station and all that were in it because he anger was so great.

In addition, Mr. Chiu now suffers from a complete relapse of his illness.  On top of that, he finally suffered a full relapse of his hepatitis, which means since he is running a fever, he is contagious.  This law abiding citizen now seeks his revenge from anywhere he can find it. 

By eating in several restaurants before leaving the city, Mr. Chiu becomes a saboteur by intentionally spreads his disease.  Unfortunately, the wrong people suffer from his anger. Over eight hundred contract the disease with six people dying from it.

What specifically is ironic?

 

  • Mr. Chiu is arrested on his way home from his honeymoon.
  • He is the victim of an intentional incident caused by the police who should have protected him.
  • As a teacher and intellectual, he is defeated by seemingly barbaric nitwits.
  • Instead of the best lawyer that his wife could find, she sends an amateur lawyer.
  • Mr. Chiu has to save the lawyer, not the reverse.The innocent Mr. Chiu has to sign a confession to the crimes that he did not commit.

*Most importantly, the once innocent Mr. Chiu becomes the saboteur that he was charged as when he spreads his disease throughout the cafes that he eats in causing many people to become seriously ill, and some to die. 

Sources:

We’ve answered 318,990 questions. We can answer yours, too.

Ask a question