The following is a synopsis of the 1956 story, "Jinniku shokuyô chinjôdan to sannin shinshitachi", or "The Three Genteleman and the Petitioners Against the Consumption of Human Flesh"
All page numbers refer to the version appearing in volume 2 of the Abe Kôbô zensakuhin shû,Tokyo: Shinchôsha, 1973. All translations are my own.
This synopsis, along with all other materials appearing on this website, is copyrighted. Unauthorized reproduction is prohibited.
The story opens with a skinny man confronting three gentleman--one is blind, another has only one leg, and the third has only one arm. The man is a representative of an organization made up of members of the lower classes who are against the consumption of human flesh for food purposes. He has been chosen as the representative because, as the oldest and least appetizing of the lot, it is hoped that he will not appeal to the tastes of the gentlemen. The gentlemen scorn this reasoning, saying "You're like a pig, when we see you in one piece, you don't arouse our appetites, but rather a feeling somewhat akin to love..." (269)
The man tries to get the three gentlemen to understand the position of the lower classes who form their diet, yet they seem utterly incapable of envisioning anything but the present system. They eat human flesh much the same as the lower classes eat cows and pigs. They raise the lower classes, feed and shelter them. "Why can we not eat you?" one of the gentleman asks, genuinely puzzled, "I mean, your meat tastes best, it contains nutrients, and is good for the body. How can something that logical be forbidden?" (272) Since times long past there have been the class of those who ate, and the class which was eaten. The representative asks them to consider the issue from the viewpoint of those who are eaten, sparking outrage on the part of the gentlemen.
The representative finds it impossible to make the three gentlemen understand his position, and finally he breaks down and launches into an emotional appeal for his daughter who has been slated for consumption. Angered at the outburst, the three gentlemen have the man thrown out, and wonder at the weakness of the lower classes. They finally reach the conclusion that the reason the man was so desperate was because his daughter must be particularly tasty, and that he wanted her for himself. Deciding that they must have a taste, they call up the slaughterhouse to have her prepared, only to discover that the slaughterhouse workers are on strike. The word is foreign to the gentlemen, and they make their way to the library to look it up. When they discover its meaning they are stunned, with one of the gentlemen repeating over and over, "But, I was absolutely faithful... I was absolutely faithful" (273). The story ends with the three gentlemen "running like the wind" to their house in order to check on their meat stockpiles.