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"Fear and Trembling" by Amelie Nothomb
Dear @takafromtokyo and @Yellowtail , please share your opinion if the story in that novel could be in real life? I've made a shortened plot from the Wikipedia article ( en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fear_and_Trembling_%28novel%29 ).
Amélie, a young Belgian woman who spent the first five years of her life in Japan, signs a one-year contract at the prestigious company Yumimoto. During her time at Yumimoto, she is the direct subordinate of Fubuki Mori, whose friendly demeanor quickly disappears when Amélie unwittingly oversteps herself.
Bored and frustrated with how she is apparently not assigned to do anything productive, Amélie tries to take the initiative. [Another dept's manager ] Mr. Tenshi takes notice of her and asks for her help in drafting a report.
Amélie's contributions to Mr. Tenshi's report make is a big success and she requests not to be given credit. Though it seems her transfer to Mr. Tenshi's department is imminent, Fubuki feels offended and she exposes everything to the vice-president, who severely scolds Mr Tenshi and Amélie, and sees to it that Amélie writes no more reports and strictly sticks to doing duties assigned by Ms Mori.
Although advised by Mr Tenshi not to do so, Amélie decides to confront Ms Mori and talk to her personally. The main difference [between them] is that while Amélie feels her progress in her career from useless work to the place where she actually can use her skills has been hindered for no other reason than maliciousness, Ms Mori interprets Amélie's move as being against her as Amélie was trying to pass her by, thus violating the correct hierarchy. Ms Mori had to suffer and work hard for years to achieve her position and it was inconceivable to her to imagine that Amélie might achieve the same level of hierarchy within only a couple of weeks.
The biggest mistake Amélie commits comes after Ms Mori has been severely abused by the vice-president in front of all the department. When Ms Mori, not having shown tears to her colleagues, goes to the bathroom to let her feelings out in private, Amélie follows her to console her. While from Amélie's point of view Ms Mori is not in a shameful position and offering a consolation like that is only a kind-hearted gesture, Ms Mori feels utterly ashamed to be seen showing her feelings and misunderstands Amélie's following her as vengefulness and hostility.
The next day Amélie is assigned the job of a bathroom cleaner by Ms Mori. With six more months of her one-year contract to go, Amélie decides to endure until the end, which might be shameful from the Western point of view, but from the Japanese point of view means not losing face.