Study Guide

The Orphan Master's Son Part 2, Pages 194-208

By Adam Johnson

Advertisement - Guide continues below

Part 2, Pages 194-208

  • Back at Division 42, the Interrogator and his team get a second go at Commander Ga. They start off gently, offering him breakfast in the cafeteria.
  • Q-Kee tries to engage Ga in conversation about taekwondo, but Ga—despite his supposed prowess at the sport—doesn't bite. He's only interested in eating.
  • Besides, Ga sees through the small talk. He simply tells the interrogators that they will never find Sun Moon and her children.
  • Members of the Pubyok hear Ga's cheeky talk and decide to step in. The Interrogator tells them to back down, since Sarge handed Ga over to his team.
  • Ga says that he will give his story, but he wants the answer to a question in exchange.
  • Everyone but the Interrogator goes ballistic. No subject has ever demanded—much less received—something from the interrogators.
  • But the Interrogator keeps his cool. He'll allow it, if the subject will tell them how he first met Commander Ga.
  • Impostor Ga thinks this is acceptable, so he begins. He met the real Ga when the Commander visited Prison 33.
  • Ga says that Mongnan started a rumor that made the guards stop randomly maiming the inmates of the prison. But the winter was harsh, and he barely lived. After that, he was a changed man.
  • Ga says that he didn't care about consequences. He refused to play by the rules of the camp, and he would rebel in the "self-criticism" sessions.
  • The Pubyok are seething at this and tell the Interrogator that they would already have had this Ga killed for his crimes.
  • The Interrogator tells impostor Ga that the hills were colder during the war, when bombs were dropped on them. The prison camp is an improvement, in fact, since they had a cook and an infirmary where you could be "put down" when you got sick.
  • The Interrogator knows that what Ga says about the winter is true, since he and his comrades had gone on a scary ride to the north to take the biography of a prisoner. They weren't totally convinced it wasn't just a way to inter them without a fight.
  • Ga continues with his story. He says that he was housed near the infirmary and that he kept hearing the complaints of the sick. One guy in particular was a total pain in the butt. He would cry out questions that had no answers, like, "Why won't you confess?"
  • Finally, Ga would start screaming answers to the man's delusional questions.
  • In the middle of all this, Mongnan is still looking out for Ga. She comes to fetch him one night, telling him that the Minister of Prison Mines is coming in the morning.
  • Mongnan points out that the only way they can light the camp will be to shut the electric fences. Ga tells her that escape is pointless, since there is nowhere to go. But this isn't what Mongnan has in mind.
  • Mongnan shows Ga a place between the fences that have wild ginger and radishes. It's also the place where the women bury the dead. They harvest as much of the roots as they can.
  • Ga remembers that Mongnan made a comment about supply and demand—and about how the whole prison was her blackboard.
  • At that, Q-Kee gets excited. She realizes that Ga's friend called Mongnan was a professor who had been denounced by all her students.
  • Commander Ga instantly wants to know more about Mongnan and what she taught, but the Interrogator sends the interns away, since they've made the mistake of giving away info.
  • Ga continues his story about Mongnan teaching him survival skills: she teaches him how to "milk" the trout in the guards' pond to get the eggs without harming the fish.
  • Then Mongnan gives Ga a stern talking to: the Minister of the Prison mines will be coming in the morning, and he is having a hard time of it. One of his prisons has just burned to the ground, and he's lost 1,500 workers. He will have no patience with an inmate who argues and talks back to everyone else. Mongnan tells Ga that he will have to chill out and lay low until the Minister was gone.
  • Mongnan also tells Ga it is her prerogative to help him out.
  • And then Mongnan teaches Ga a really, utterly disgusting survival skill: getting semen from an ox. It was a vile experience for Ga.
  • Mongnan also prophesies that the current political regime is doomed. She tells Ga to make sure he has a plan for when it happens.
  • When Ga got back to the building by the infirmary, he and Mongnan hear the dying old man again. He moans out the question: "Who am I?"
  • Mongnan tells the old man, with disgust, that he is Duc Dan—and that he should die quickly to make everyone happy.
  • One of the Pubyok completely loses his composure. He tells the Interrogator that Ga is playing with their minds. Kim Duc Dan, apparently, is a "retired" interrogator—one of their own.
  • Another interrogator protests that they went to Duc Dan's retirement party and were told that he had a house on the beach (which Jun Do learned, in his fisherman days, wasn't true).
  • The interrogators also reveal that Duc Dan interrogated many people in Prison 33. They don't want to believe impostor Ga.
  • Finally, the tension explodes, and the old men pour hot tea into Ga's open wounds and drag him off for some more good, old-fashioned torture.
  • The Interrogator and his crew immediately begin the bureaucratic process to get Ga back.
  • The Interrogator's team gets approval to get Commander Ga back. But they have to go into the torture wing to retrieve him. It creeps them out—especially when they have to go into the "sump," a dungeon that holds all the subjects who will never be seen again. Those guys are in bad shape.
  • But the interrogators don't find Ga in these places. He's actually back in his bed, clearly suffering from the effects of electricity applied to the brain.
  • Ga's pretty out of it, and the Interrogator's crew has to concede that he won't be able to give them anything useful for a while. If ever.
  • The interrogators all want to know if Ga reveal what was done to Sun Moon, but Ga really can't communicate properly. They all assume that he did reveal it, and their dream of the most interesting biography in the world flies out the window.
  • Soon, the interrogators are guessing at the place and type of execution Ga will face. They feel disappointment that they will never know his real name.
  • The interrogators decide to go and congratulate the Pubyok for getting the information. But when they get there, they learn that Ga gave them no information. Apparently, Ga's pain training paid off.
  • But there's one disconcerting thing: Ga would never take back what he had said about Duc Dan. Although the Interrogator tries to convince the older men that Ga was lying in order to survive, they all kind of know Ga's telling the truth.
  • The Interrogator promises Sarge—who is totally rattled at the idea that his retirement won't be on the beach—that he'll get the truth out of imposter Ga.
  • Q-Kee suggests that they get a mother figure, like Mongnan, to interrogate Ga. But there are no older women in Division 42.
  • Jujack wonders why they don't just bring Mongnan herself in. Ga tells them through his delirium that Mongnan is dead. He saw her name on a list on the "master computer."
  • The Interrogator tells Ga that the "master computer" is just a hoax, something that they use to threaten the subjects with.
  • Ga wants the answer his question now, but the Interrogator decides to push his luck and ask Ga about his oldest memory.
  • Ga tells about walking away from his parents and getting lost forever. He is offered shelter by a cold wind, a mineshaft, and the ghost of a person who died of illness.
  • The boy doesn't want to take their hospitality, since he knows he will die of cold, darkness, or fever. Then a bear takes him on and feeds him with honey.
  • The interrogation crew is not impressed: it's an old Party allegory that equates the bear to Kim Jong Il, the champion of orphans. They conclude that this Ga was an orphan.
  • Finally, Commander Ga asks his question. Pointing to his food, he asks if it belongs to Comrade Buc? Then he asks Buc to forgive him for giving him a scar—and passes out.
  • Jujack recognizes Buc's name, since it was on the ankle bracelet of a "subject" down in the sump.

This is a premium product

Tired of ads?

Join today and never see them again.

Please Wait...