49 pages 1 hour read

Ha Jin

The Bridegroom

Fiction | Short Story Collection | Adult | Published in 2000

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Acts of Revenge as Expressions of Individual Will and Character

Personal revenge is a theme which surfaces in one form or another in several of the stories in The Bridegroom. In “Saboteur,” the narrator intentionally spreads hepatitis as revenge against the police who force him to admit to a crime he hadn’t committed. In “In the Kindergarten,” Shaona avenges herself against the cruelties of her classmate, Dabin, and Teacher Shen by urinating on the class’ collection of purslanes. In “An Entrepreneur’s Story,” the narrator compares himself to a man who “slept with both his wife and her mother in the same bed to revenge his humiliation” (125), and wishes “he could do the same to my old bitch of a mother-in-law” (125). In the next story (“Flame”), Nimei tells her lover Hsu Peng that she will marry another man, Jiang Bang. Hsu Peng responds, “I hate you! I’ll get my revenge” (130). At the end of the story, he arguably enacts this revenge by arranging to meet with Nimei once more and then failing to keep his appointment.

“After Cowboy Chicken Came to Town,” (the final story in The Bridegroom) ends on a similarly vindictive note. After the narrator and his colleagues get fired for suspected terrorism, the narrator promises to enact revenge against his managers,

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