- Sep 2020
I can’t sleep at night. Everything requires careful consideration if one is to understand it.Those people, some of whom have been pilloried by the magistrate, slapped in the face by the local gentry, had their wives taken away by bailiffs, or their parents driven to suicide by creditors, never looked as frightened and as fierce then as they did yesterday.The most extraordinary thing was that woman on the street yesterday who spanked her son and said, “Little devil! I’d like to bite several mouthfuls out of you to work off my feelings!” Yet all the time she looked at me. I gave a start, unable to control myself; then all those green-faced, long-toothed people began to laugh derisively. Old Chen hurried forward and dragged me home.He dragged me home. The folk at home all pretended not to know me; they had the same look in their eyes as all the others. When I went into the study, they locked the door outside as if cooping up a chicken or a duck. This incident left me even more bewildered.A few days ago a tenant of ours from Wolf Cub Village came to report the failure of the crops, and told my elder brother that a notorious character in their village had been beaten to death; then some people had taken out his heart and liver, fried them in oil and eaten them, as a means of increasing their courage. When I interrupted, the tenant and my brother both stared at me. Only today have I realized that they had exactly the same look in their eyes as those people outside.Just to think of it sets me shivering from the crown of my head to the soles of my feet.They eat human beings, so they may eat me.I see that woman’s “bite several mouthfuls out of you,” the laughter of those green-faced, long-toothed people and the tenant’s story the other day are obviously secret signs. I realize all the poison in their speech, all the daggers in their laughter. Their teeth are white and glistening: they are all man-eaters. It seems to me, although I am not a bad man, ever since I trod on Mr. Ku’s accounts it has been touch-and-go. They seem to have secrets which I cannot guess, and once they are angry they will call anyone a bad character. I remember when my elder brother taught me to write compositions, no matter how good a man was, if I produced arguments to the contrary he would mark that passage to show his approval; while if I excused evil-doers, he would say: “Good for you, that shows originality.” How can I possibly guess their secret thoughts—especially when they are ready to eat people? Everything requires careful consideration if one is to understand it. In ancient times, as I recollect, people often ate human beings, but I am rather hazy about it. I tried to look this up, but my history has no chronology, and scrawled all over each page are the words: “Virtue and Morality.” Since I could not sleep anyway, I read intently half the night, until I began to see words between the lines, the whole book being filled with the two words—”Eat people.” All these words written in the book, all the words spoken by our tenant, gaze at me strangely with an enigmatic smile.I too am a man, and they want to eat me!
I think here the madman is raving about cannibalism and fear. The narrator responded by saying that he is treated as if he's insane and kept inside. He's even convinced that his caretakers are working together to dive him to suicide so can remain blameless as they cannibalize him.
Tonight the moon is very bright.I have not seen it for over thirty years, so today when I saw it I felt in unusually high spirits. I begin to realize that during the past thirty-odd years I have been in the dark; but now I must be extremely careful. Otherwise why should that dog at the Chao house have looked at me twice?
I think at this point in the story the man is hallucinating because he is so paranoid that he believes everybody is suspicious of him for one reason or the other.