Q. Who was Dr Sadao? Where was his house?
Ans. Dr Sadao Hoki was an eminent Japanese surgeon and scientist. He had spent eight valuable years of his youth in America to learn all that could be learnt of surgery and medicine there. He was perfecting a discovery which would render wounds entirely clean. Dr Sadao’s house was built on rocks well above a narrow beach that was outlined with bent pines. It was on a spot of the Japanese coast.
Q. Will Dr Sadao be arrested on the charge of harbouring an enemy?
Ans. Dr Sadao knew that they would be arrested if they sheltered a white man in their house. The wounded man was a prisoner of war who had escaped with a bullet on his back. Since Japan was at war with America, harbouring an enemy meant being a traitor to Japan. Dr Sadao could be arrested if anyone complained against him and accused him of harbouring an enemy.
Q. Will Hana help the wounded man and wash him herself?
Ans. The gardener and the cook were frightened that their master was going to heal the wound of a white man—an enemy. They felt that after being cured he will take revenge on the Japanese. Yumi, the maid, was also frightened. She refused to wash the white man. Hana rebuked the maid who had refused to wash a wounded helpless man. Then she dipped a small clean towel into the steaming hot water and washed the white man’s face. She kept on washing him until his upper body was quite clean. But she dared not turn him over.
Q. What will Dr Sadao and his wife do with the man?
Ans. Dr Sadao and his wife, Hana, had told the servants that they only wanted to bring the man to his senses so that they could turn him over as a prisoner. They knew that the best possible course under the circumstances was to put him back into the sea. However, Dr Sadao was against handing over a wounded man to the police. He decided to carry him into his house. He operated upon him and extracted the bullet from his body. He kept the white man in his house. He and his wife looked after him and fed him till he was strong enough to walk on his legs.
Q. Will Dr Sadao be arrested on the charge of harbouring an enemy?
Ans. It was the seventh day since Dr Sadao had operated upon the young white man. Early that morning, their three servants left together. In the afternoon, a messenger came there in official uniform. He told Dr Sadao that he had to come to the palace at once as the old General was in pain again. Hana, who had thought that the officer had come to arrest Dr Sadao, asked the messenger, “Is that all?” The baffled messenger enquired if that was not enough. She tried to cover her mistake by expressing regret and admitted that the General’s illness was enough. Dr Sadao told the General about the white man he had operated upon. Since Dr Sadao was indispensable to the General, he promised that Dr Sadao would not be arrested.
Q. What will Dr Sadao do to get rid of the man?
Ans. Dr Sadao had told the old General that he had operated upon a white man. The General promised to send his private assassins to kill the man silently and secretly at night and remove his body. Dr Sadao left the outer partition of white man’s room open. He waited anxiously for three nights. The servants had left their house. His wife Hana had to cook, clean the house and serve the wounded man. She was unaccustomed to this labour. She was anxious that they should get rid of the man. Dr Sadao told Tom, the white man, that he was quite well then. He offered to put his boat on the shore that night. It would have food and extra clothing in it. Tom might be able to row to the little island which was not far from the coast. It had not been fortified. The water was quite deep. Nobody lived there, as it was submerged in storm. Since it was not the season of storm, he could live there till he saw a Korean fishing boat pass by. He gave the man his flashlight. He was to signal twice with his flashlight at sunset in case his food ran out. In case, he was still there and all right, he was to signal only once. Dr Sadao gave the man Japanese clothes and covered his blond head with a black cloth. In short, Dr Sadao helped the man to escape from Japan.
Q. 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.
Ans. Dr Sadao Hoki faces a dilemma when he finds the body of an unconscious wounded white man lying on the lonely coast with dangerous rocks near his house. His first reaction was that the person was perhaps a fisherman who had been washed from his boat. He ran quickly down the steps. His wife, Hana came behind him. When they came near, Sadao found that the man was wounded and lay motionless. His face was in the sand. As they saw his face, they found that he was a white man with long yellow hair and a rough yellow beard.
Being an expert surgeon, Dr Sadao saw that the man had a gun-wound on the right side of his lower back. He at once packed the wound with sea moss to stanch the fearful bleeding. Since Japan was at war with America, the white man was an enemy. Dr Sadao muttered, “What shall we do with this man?” He answered the question himself, “The best thing that we could do would be to put him back in the sea.” His wife approved of his decision.
Then Sadao made another observation. If they sheltered a white man in their house they would be arrested and if they turned him over as a prisoner, he would certainly die. Hana still insisted on putting him back into the sea. From his battered cap, Dr Sadao concluded that he was a sailor from an American warship. The man was a prisoner of war. He had escaped and that was why he was wounded in the back.
Hana asked if they were able to put him back into the sea. Sadao then said that if the man was whole he could turn the man over to the police without difficulty. He cared nothing for the man. He was their enemy. All Americans were their ‘enemy’. But since he was wounded… Hana understood his dilemma and realised that in the conflict between his sense of national loyalty and his duty as a doctor, it was the latter which proved dominant. Since Sadao too could not throw him back to the sea, the only course left for them was to carry him to their house. Sadao enquired about the reaction of the servants.
Hana said that they would tell the servants that they intended to give the man to the police. She told Sadao that they must do so. They had to think of the children and the doctor’s position. It would endanger all of them if they did not give that man over as a prisoner of war. Sadao agreed and promised that he would not think of doing anything else.
Q. 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?
Ans. Dr Sadao and his wife, Hana, together lifted the wounded man and carried him to an empty bedroom. The man was very dirty. Sadao suggested that he had better be washed. He offered to do so if she would fetch water. Hana was against it. She suggested that the maid, Yumi, could wash the man. They would have to tell the servants. Dr Sadao examined the man again and remarked that the man would die unless he was operated upon at once. He left the room to bring his surgical instruments.
The servants did not approve of their master’s decision to heal the wound of a white man. Even Yumi refused to wash the white man. There was so fierce a look of resistance upon Yumi’s round dull face that Hana felt unreasonably afraid. Then she said with dignity that they only wanted to bring him to his senses so that they would turn him over as a prisoner. However, Yumi refused to have anything to do with him. Hana asked Yumi gently to return to her work.
The open defiance from the domestic staff hurt Hana’s feelings. She had told the servants to do what their master commanded them. She was convinced of her own superiority. She now became sympathetic to her husband and helped him in his efforts to heal the wounded man. Though the sight of the white man was repulsive to her, she washed his face and his upper body. She prepared herself to give him the anaesthetic according to her husband’s instructions. She had never seen an operation. She choked and her face turned pale like sulphur. She felt like vomiting and left for a while. She returned after retching and administered anaesthetic to the man. Thus she co-operated with her husband fully to save the wounded man.
Q. 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?
Ans. On the third day after the operation, the young man asked Dr Sadao what he was going to do with him and if he was going to hand him over. Dr Sadao said that he did not know himself what he would do with the man. He ought to hand him over to the police as he was a prisoner of war.
The young man saw that Dr Sadao and his wife Hana were different from other Japanese. They spoke English well, looked after him and served him food. Seven days after the operation of the man, Dr Sadao was called to the palace to see the General. Hana thought that the police had come to arrest Dr Sadao. Dr Sadao confided in the General and he (General) promised to send his personal assassins to kill the man and remove his body.
Dr Sadao waited for three nights. Nothing happened. Then he made a plan to let the prisoner escape. He told Tom, the young American, about it. The young man stared at him and asked if he had to leave. It seemed he was reluctant to leave. Dr Sadao told him that he should understand everything clearly. It was not hidden that he was there and this situation was full of risk for himself as well as for the doctor. Thus it is quite clear that the reluctance of the soldier was caused by the single motive of self-preservation. He knew from the treatment he had received from the couple that they would save him.
Q. 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 selfabsorption?
Ans. During his meeting with the General, Dr Sadao told him about the man he had operated on successfully. He explained that he cared nothing for the man. The General appreciated his skill and efficiency and promised that he would not be arrested.
General thought it quite unfortunate that the man had been washed up to Dr Sadao’s doorstep and thought it best if he could be quietly killed. He promised to send his private assassins to do so and remove his dead body. He suggested that Dr Sadao should leave the outer partition of the white man’s room to the garden open at night.
It is evident that the General had no human consideration in this matter. For him an enemy was an enemy and must be wiped out. He wanted the man to be eliminated silently to save the doctor from being arrested. It was neither lack of national loyalty nor dereliction of duty that guided and inspired his decision. It was simply his sense of self-absorption. He wanted to keep Dr Sadao safe only for his own sake. He had no faith in the other Germany trained doctors. He might have to be operated upon anytime when he had another attack and he had full faith in the skill and loyalty of Dr Sadao only.
This fact is further corroborated by the General’s remarks to Dr Sadao, one week after the emergency operation upon the General. Dr Sadao informed him that the man had escaped. The General asked whether he had not promised Sadao that he would kill the man for him. Dr Sadao replied that he had done nothing. The General admitted that he had forgotten his promise as he had been suffering a great deal and he thought of nothing but himself. He revealed the whole truth. He admitted that it was careless of him to have forgotten his promise. But added that it was not lack of patriotism or dereliction of duty on his part.
Q. While hatred against a member of the enemy race is justifiable, especially during wartime, what makes a human being rise above narrow prejudices?
Ans. It is the consciousness of the demands of one’s calling that make a sensitive soul respond to the call of his duty as a professional doctor to attend to the wounded human being regardless of his being an enemy.
In the story ‘The Enemy’ Dr Sadao Hoki finds a prisoner of war washed ashore and in a dying state thrown to his doorstep. As a patriot, it is his duty to hand him over to the police. If he does not want to be entangled, the next best thing is to put him back to the sea.
However, the surgeon in him instinctively inspires him to operate upon the dying man and save him from the jaws of death. First, he packs the wound with sea-moss to stanch the fearful bleeding. Then he brings him home with the help of his wife. In spite of stiff opposition and open defiance of the servants, he operates upon the man and harbours him till he is able to leave. He knows fully well the risk of sheltering a white man—a prisoner of war—in his house. But his sentimentality for the suffering and wounded person help him rise above narrow national prejudices and extend his help and services even to an enemy.
Q. Do you think the doctor’s final solution to the problem was the best possible one in the circumstances?
Ans. Yes, I think the doctor’s final solution to the problem was the best possible one in the circumstances. Initially, the doctor as well as his wife thought that the best as well as kindest thing would be to put him back into the sea. But neither of them moved. Neither was able to put him back into the sea.
Sadao explained that if the man was whole he could turn him over to the police without difficulty, but since he was wounded, the doctor could not throw him back to the sea. He could not kill the man whom he had saved from the jaws of death.
The General promised to send his private assassins to kill the man and remove his dead body. Sadao waited for three nights for their arrival, but they never came as the General being preoccupied with his own suffering, forgot everything else.
Meanwhile the fear of Hana, the doctor’s wife, that he would be arrested on the charge of harbouring an enemy kept on mounting. Dr Sadao made up his mind to get rid of the man as it was not only inconvenient but also dangerous for them to have him there any longer. He, therefore, quietly devised the plan of letting the prisoner escape by using his own boat and Japanese clothes.
As soon as the enemy left, the servants returned and life became normal once again. Dr Sadao informed the General that “the man” had escaped. The General admitted that he had forgotten his promise as he thought of nothing but himself as he was suffering a great deal. He confessed that it was careless of him but it was not his lack of patriotism or dereliction of duty. In short, the doctor’s strategy to let the prisoner escape was the best possible solution to the problem under the prevailing circumstances.
Q. Does the story remind you of ‘Birth’ by A. J. Cronin that you read in ‘Snapshots’ last year? What are the similarities?
Ans. Yes, the story ‘The Enemy’ by Pearl S. Buck certainly reminds us of the story ‘Birth’ by A. J. Cronin. Both the stories have certain obvious similarities. Both the stories revolve around the protagonist who is a doctor. Both of them focus on the doctor’s devotion and dedication to his duty and his concern for the well-being of his patient. The doctor sacrifices his own rest and comfort while attending to the patient. If the doctor brings a ‘still-born’ baby back to life in the story ‘Birth’, Dr Sadao Hoki performs no less a miracle. He saves an almost dying man from the jaws of death by skilfully extracting the bullet from his body and giving him medicines and injections for quick relief.
Dr Sadao runs a greater risk than Dr Andrew Mason. While the former could be arrested on the charge of harbouring an enemy and condemned to death, the latter (Dr Andrew) was foregoing rest and staking his reputation as a medical practitioner. He had had a disappointing evening with Christine, the girl he loves, but he forgets his personal feelings and concentrates on the safe delivery of child and then of reviving the middle-aged mother and the still-born child. Similarly, Dr Sadao is dedicated to his patient and his problems. He forgets everything while concentrating on the operation. His servants have defied him for sheltering an enemy and run away. His wife, Hana, has to do menial jobs while attending to the patient and her retching disturbs him. Her distress and his inability to attend to her make him impatient and irritable, but he does not desert the man who is under his knife. To conclude, we may say that the zeal, dedication and efforts of both the doctors are similar. There is difference of degree in the risk factor, but their devotion to suffering humanity is undoubtedly of the same kind.
Q. Is there any film you have seen or novel you have read with a similar theme?
Ans. I remember an old Hindi film ‘Dr Kotnis ki Amar Kahani’ that deals with a similar theme. The eminent doctor gives up his practice and goes to the war front to look after the wounded and ailing soldiers and render them medical help. He spares no pain in performing his duties. He ignores the demands of his own body that is sleep, rest and comfort. Service to suffering humanity is his sole motivation and in his zeal to restore the maximum number of victims back to health, the doctor suffers from physical and mental exhaustion and ultimately dies.
The film based on the life of Florence Nightingale, the lady with the lamp, also glorifies the spirit of service and sacrifice of a member of the medical profession. It is through her sheer hard work and dedication to duty that Florence Nightingale raises the job of a nurse to a high pedestal.