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Last Updated September 5, 2023.

Corruption of Power

In "Saboteur," a recently married man, Mr. Chiu, is arbitrarily arrested by police after they throw tea on him. Corruption of power is explored through the actions of the police. When the police find out that Chiu is a member of the Communist Party, they treat him even harsher. The police use their power to oppress people's lives and are particularly oppressive to members of the Communist Party, as communism has deemed that the police are not of greater importance than anyone else. This angers them, and they respond by attempting to consolidate their power even more. Because they are still police, they can still easily use their power over others, as they are the enforcers of the law. They do not fear any sort of retribution or repercussions; they merely act in their own interests and are (largely) unaccountable for the harm they cause.

The Outrage of Hierarchy

In the story, the police bring false testimony against Mr. Chiu. The entire scenario is outrageous and certainly depicts the outrage of hierarchies. The police display a clear and powerful hierarchy over the citizens. The citizens of the town Chiu is visiting, in turn, betray Mr. Chiu by bringing false testimony against him. Unfortunately, this is largely due to the fact that the police hold so much power. Of course, even if the police relationship with the public was overall safe or positive, the power dynamic would still be relevant because one party has the ability to enforce rules. This imbalance creates a situation in which civilians are better off lying and assenting to police-made falsehoods than sticking up for the little man. Hierarchy is also present when Mr. Chiu, a visiting intellectual, decides to spread his contagious disease as much as possible to the townspeople. Mr. Chiu will likely be able to receive treatment, whereas the same cannot be said for the hundreds of townspeople impacted by his hepatitis. 

The Impact of Taking Revenge 

When Mr. Chiu is finally released, he spreads his highly contagious hepatitis throughout the town in anger. This is an act of revenge that works in two different ways. On the one hand, Mr. Chiu is seeking revenge on the policemen who treated him so poorly, arrested him with no real cause, and ultimately forced him to admit to something he did not do. In many ways, this revenge is directed at the system that puts these police in such a position. The townspeople who happen to get sick are not targeted but more so a surrogate. On another note, Mr. Chiu is also taking revenge against bystanders—specifically, the people who signed eyewitness statements that Mr. Chiu caused a public disturbance. These people did not stand by the truth or reality of Mr. Chiu’s behavior. They essentially signed him into jail for a short period. With this in mind, it makes sense that Mr. Chiu felt disenchanted with everyday people. His behavior is cruel, especially given that he began an outbreak in Muji City. Revenge in this context is interesting because Mr. Chiu has been mistreated, and at the same time contributes to other people’s suffering.

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