The Enemy Summary
-Pearl S. Buck
This is a story of triumphant compassion that rises above petty differences, obscure biases and incurable hatred.
The story revolves around surgeon named Sadao Hoki. Born in Japan, his first hero was his father who toiled for his son’s needs and bright future. Young Sadao went to America to learn his craft. He was ecstatic to be given this opportunity and wanted to repay his father’s trust by contributing to his nation’s medical needs.
The American land of opportunity also gave him his Japanese wife, Hana. His father approves of his son’s choice and Hana proves to be the cornerstone of Sadao’s life. She is devoted and compassionate and takes wonderful are of her husband and their life together.
The two come back to their home country in the middle of the World War II. They are blessed with two kids and live a quiet life near the sea exactly where Sadao grew up.
Most of the doctors are required to return to the army but he is exempted on the General’s special request. He is also doing research work on war injury and damage.Dr. Sadao and Hana’s life changes completely one fateful day. Sharing some intimate moments together, their attention is diverted by a stumbling man who comes out of the belly of the sea. However, before anybody can react he falls into a heap. On further examination, Dr. Sadao learns that he is severely wounded by a bullet shot. Much to their horror he was a white American and an escaped prisoner of war. They are lost for words as their help can be termed as high treason and an action against national security and interest. However, they were compelled by compassion and humanitarian instinct and decide to help a fellow nearing a painful death.
They drag him home. They inform their servants about him and his health. The servants agree to remain silent in the issue. However, they disapprove of their actions. They refuse to help the enemy. Hana, the duteous wife had to do the chores for the injured guest.
Dr. Sadao successfully operates on the soldier removing the shrapnel. He is duly helped by Hana. She also treats and nurses him back to health. Her nurture and Dr. Sadao’s medicinal expertise helps the soldier recuperate.
In the end, the servants decide to disclose the secret about the enemy’s presence. Their pressure does not deter the Hoki couple and they never give him to the police. Sadao and Hana could never bring themselves to that point. However, Sadao even writes a letter to the Chief of Police but hides it in his drawer.
Hence, the servants collectively leave their job.
One day Dr. Sadao is asked to visit the General who was in terrible pain. Looking at his wife’s anxiety, he shares the information with him. The General realizes his need for Sadao’s skills and his dire health. So to keep Sadao out of harm’s way he assures him that he will send his personal henchmen to get rid of the problem.
Dr Sadao is helpless and succumbs to the sinister plan even though he doesn’t tell any of it to Hana. After a couple of sleepless nights, his worry grew exponentially as no assassin came and the army man grew stronger.
Dr Sadao finally answers the call of his conscience and plans the soldier’s safe escape from the Japanese coast. He arranges for him a boat ride with all the essentials like water, clothes, food etc. The boat would take him to an isolated island where he could wait for an escape ship. The ship usually arrived from Korea and would to take him out of hostile territory and into international waters. Thus, the soldier could escape without any problems.
Thereupon, Sadao focused on his employer and his treatment. After he recovered, Sadao narrated a story about the soldier’s escape that left no trace.
The General also admitted that he forgot about the soldier and his promise.
The couple realized one day that there was no light emanating from the island. They realized that the American must have found his ship and his way back home.
The story and humanity of Dr, Sadao and Hana posits a lot of pertinent questions about war, love, peace, suffering, loss and humanity. It also redefines the true enemy and how love always conquers hate, parochial prejudices, violence and war.