Saboteur Characters
by Ha Jin

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Saboteur Characters

The characters of "Saboteur" including the following:

Mr. Chiu Maguang: Mr. Chiu is the protagonist of the story; he is a lecturer at Harbin University and Communist Party member. He recently suffered a bout of acute hepatitis and has just gotten married. In the story, he leverages his disease as a weapon against the totalitarian communist state.

Mr. Chiu's bride: In the story, Mr. Chiu's bride remains unnamed. She appears at the beginning of the story only, and her character only receives surface attention.

The police officers: The officers arrest Mr. Chiu for supposedly disturbing the public peace. In reality, the altercation between Mr. Chiu and the officers originated from the provoking actions of an officer, who threw the hot contents of a tea cup onto the feet of Mr. Chiu and his bride. The actions of the police officers highlight the corrupt power structure in place after the Cultural Revolution.

The chief or head of the Interrogation Bureau: In the story, the chief remains unnamed. He represents the faceless state apparatus that oppresses the populace.

Fenjin: Fenjin is a recent law graduate from Harbin University and a former student of Mr. Chiu Maguang. Fenjin was enrolled in Mr. Chiu's course on Marxist materialism. In the story, Fenjin tries to rescue Mr. Chiu and is beaten badly as a result. To save himself and Fenjin, Mr. Chiu signs a self-incriminatory statement.


When the story begins, Mr. Chiu and his wife are just sitting down to the final lunch of their honeymoon in Muji City. A police officer throws tea on their feet, and when his wife calls the police officer a hooligan, Mr. Chiu is arrested as a saboteur and then detained in a cell for the next two days until he finally signs a fictitious confession written for him by the chief of the Interrogation Bureau.

Of course, the police officer who throws the tea (and later makes faces at Mr. Chiu as Mr. Chiu is led away to an office to be questioned) as well as the chief of the Interrogation Bureau who questions Mr. Chiu also play important roles in the story. There is also a former student of Mr. Chiu's named Fenjin; he is a lawyer sent by the university, presumably, to assist in Mr. Chiu's release. However, Fenjin is also arrested and then tortured until Mr. Chiu signs the confession prepared for him.