It is important to note the background of this story to fully comprehend and appreciate the dynamics of its characters. Dr Hoki is an exceptionally talented surgeon who has a natural gift for surgical operations. Under his father’s strict guidance he has been trained and educated by the best doctors in the world for which he had to travel and stay in America. From the fore, it seems like education only made an impact on his knowledge and skills. He was a traditional Japanese man and followed his father’s conservative rules when it came to marriage and household. He had good relations with the General and had made himself worthy through his service to him. His love for his country was apparent through his lifestyle and choices and he was in the process of developing a formula to clean any wound completely. This would be a great achievement in times of war and a great service to the people of his nation. Nevertheless, his loyalty was put to test when an American prisoner of war is washed ashore in a wounded state very near his home. With the fear of being arrested on grounds of harbouring a national enemy pressing down his back, the doctor takes swift measures to ensure the man’s safety. Together with the help of his wife, he restores him back to health and keeps postponing the date of this peculiar guest’s farewell. He could not find it in his heart to send a man back to death right after saving him from a fatal wound. He tactfully informed the General of his problem and they agree that it is important to kill the enemy quietly before word gets out and the Doctor’s reputation is ruined. Somehow, the kind-hearted doctor feels uneasy at the prospect of murder in his own house, even if it’s the enemy, and sends his newly recovered patient off to a secluded island with a boat full of resources to survive until he could find safe passage back home. The story ends on a note that humanity is greater than patriotism and even though wars are bad, all people are not.
The Enemy Short Questions and Answers: Solved
1. There are moments in life when we have to make hard choices between our roles as private individuals and as citizens with a sense of national loyalty. Discuss with reference to the story you have just read.
It would seem like a clear choice between individuality and patriotism but in the story, The Enemy, the line between these two aspects gets blurred. Dr Sadao’s capabilities make him a great doctor and a national asset but his humanitarian instincts make him a good person. The basis of the story lies in the troubles of war and when the patriotic sentiments of the people of Japan are peaked. All the general masses in the story are seen making sacrifices and many young men sent away in troops to fight for their country.
The doctor was not sent away with the troops because he was to make an invaluable contribution to his society. He had almost perfected a medical discovery which would clean wounds entirely leaving no room for infection. Also, the General was fond of him as he trusted no other doctor for his own personal treatment. Hence to say, the doctor had earned his reputation as a loyal citizen of the state but that didn’t stop him from taking the risk of healing an enemy soldier. His private streak for compassion overpowered his sense of right. He chose to honour his oath as a doctor at the risk of being punished as an anti-nationalist.
2. Dr Sadao was compelled by his duty as a doctor to help the enemy soldier. What made Hana, his wife, sympathetic to him in the face of open defiance from the domestic staff?
Right after discerning the wounded man at the beach to be an escaped American prisoner, Sadao and his wife Hana contemplated leaving him there to die. Somehow they could not do it and brought him inside nevertheless. It was obvious that the good doctor was driven by his medical experience and craft to save the man’s life but the wife’s intention was not as clear. She was definitely repulsed by him and being a loyal wife in love with her husband, she was not comfortable by the strange man’s presence in her home at all. His stay caused her many inconveniences and still, she cleaned and nursed and fed him even when her maid would not. Hana’s reproach towards the enemy was justifiable but her caregiving attitude reflected her deep feminine sympathy, her respect and support for her husband, and her ability to be brave in the face of adversity.
3. How would you explain the reluctance of the soldier to leave the shelter of the doctor’s home even when he knew he couldn’t stay there without risk to the doctor and himself?
The American soldier was probably doing his duty when he got captured and sent away to prison. His wounds and the red bruises on his neck faintly hint at the tortures he must have faced at the hands of those Japanese guards. Although he could understand their reluctance to befriend him, he was well aware of their kindness and the risks they were taking on his behalf. The war and its trials at the prison must have made him weary and we can assume that the food and shelter were welcoming to the soldier. He could not even convey a proper thanks to this family when he had to leave because they refused to communicate with him in any way. Perhaps he was hoping to be friends with the kindly couple but he realised that that was impossible as he went off.
4. What explains the attitude of the General in the matter of the enemy soldier? Was it human consideration, lack of national loyalty, dereliction of duty or simply self-absorption?
The attitude of the General in the matter of the enemy soldier can be considered to be a mix of human empathy and self-absorption. It was stated that the General had a lot on his mind as he was fighting a battle with the Americans and also suffering from a painful malady. According to the rumours, he was a cruel man at home, but his actions in this particular situation tell us that he was a sensible and considerate man who simply wished to uphold a ruthless reputation to manage his army and inspire fear and respect among his subjects. The assassins he spoke about were probably a tool to threaten anybody who disobeyed him and in his heart, he hoped that the doctor would do exactly what he did in the end.
5. While hatred against a member of the enemy race is justifiable, especially during wartime, what makes a human being rise above narrow prejudices?
There are many instances in life when we are conflicted by the choices we make and our belief system which tells us to do otherwise. This emotion is illustrated best with the symbolisation of the practical head and the sentimental heart. Dr Sadao in the story seemed to be thinking from his head but acting from his heart. The practical side of his character keeps telling him not to treat the bleeding enemy and to turn the escaped prisoner to the police as soon as possible but his empathetic heart acts of its own accord. The humanity inside of him could let his neglect his duties as a doctor which enabled him to rise above the narrow social prejudices. He was deserted by his domestic help but that didn’t perturb him. The fear of being found out was constant but he remembered the time spent in America in flashes and he felt obliged to serve a fellow human being in pain.
6. Do you think the doctor’s final solution to the problem was the best possible one in the circumstances?
Yes, the doctor’s final solution to the problem was successful and hence it was the best. Since the General did not send his men to kill the prisoner as planned, the doctor decided to end the agony of a guilty conscience by helping the man to escape on a boat in the darkness of the night. The doctor gave him clear instructions that would give him the perfect chance to sail out of the country and even filled the boat with supplies to last. All lives were saved in that tricky situation due to the strategy and the doctor was finally relieved and proud to have saved a life despite the dangerous circumstances.
The Enemy Long Questions and Answers: Solved
1. Does the story remind you of ‘Birth’ by A.J. Cronin that you read in Snapshots last year? What are the similarities?
Yes, the story The Enemy by the reputable writer Pearl S. Buck reminds us of the story ‘Birth’ by A. J. Cronin as they have similar themes of a doctor’s love and dedication towards the health of his patients. In the other story, the main protagonist is also a doctor who gives up his own rest and comfort to revive a still-born baby. The miraculous doctor gives the baby a new lease of life. In the same way, Dr Sadao Haki, simply out of the goodness of his heart, operates and treats a man back to life, who would have otherwise died from his deep wounds in the lonely beach. In fact, Dr Hoki’s sacrifice proves to be greater as his family and home get involved in his mission to save an enemy soldier.
2. Is there any film you have seen or novel you have read with a similar theme?
There are several books and films which revolve around the endearing spirit of man in service. The world has always rightly praised and glorified the brave doctors and nurses for their service towards humanity in times of crisis. Unfortunately, not all of these heroes have been recognised and appreciated for their efforts in their time. Their saintly deeds have come to the fore much later. The film ‘Patch Adams’ is based on a similar plot where the unconventional efforts of a doctor to treat his patients is met with scrutiny and adversity. In the book, ‘Love in the Time of Cholera’ by Nobel Prize winner Gabriel Garcia Marquez, the character of Dr Juvenal Urbino resembles the character of Dr Sadao Hoki, in his devotion to advance science and medicine in the service of humanity. As a character of rational thought, he too like the Japanese doctor, gave priority to the goal of saving lives above his personal conflicts.