(Comprehensive Guide to Short Stories, Critical Edition)

“Saboteur” is told through the consciousness of Chiu Muguang, a university professor who is arrested and briefly kept in captivity, although the final paragraphs of the story are narrated from the point of view of Fenjin, Chiu’s former student. In a brief epilogue, an unidentified narrator makes clear the motives for Chiu’s strange behavior after his imprisonment.

As the story opens, Chiu and his new bride are having lunch on the last day of their honeymoon in the city of Muji, China. Chiu is looking forward to returning to his job in Harbin, especially because he is worried about having a relapse of hepatitis, a disease that left him debilitated several months earlier. As he and his bride finish their lunch, a police officer at a nearby table tosses tea on the couple. Chiu finds this action inexplicable and lodges a complaint. Instead of apologizing, the police officer arrests Chiu for disturbing the peace. Manhandled when he resists, Chiu is outraged, and as he departs with the police officer he asks his wife to contact someone at the university to bail him out of jail.

Like the officer in the restaurant, the officers at the police station are unmoved by Chiu’s protests over what he believes has been a miscarriage of justice. They ignore his threats and toss him in a cell. Within hours, he is brought before the bureau chief, who possesses a thick dossier to support the police officer’s claim that Chiu has been disruptive and disrespectful. Chiu is astounded when he learns he is charged with sabotage and that his...

(The entire section is 636 words.)