The Enemy Vistas English class 12 NCERT Summary and Question answers

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The Enemy (Pearl S. Buck)


“The Enemy” by Pearl S. Buck is a thought-provoking story that explores the theme of conflict between a person’s duty to their country and their conscience. The story takes place in a coastal town of Japan during World War II. A Japanese doctor named Sadao lives with his wife and two children in a house built on a narrow beach near the sea. One day, when Dr. Sadao along with his wife Hana, was looking at the ocean remembering his father, his days in America, how he met Hana there and now how happy they are. Suddenly they both saw a silhouette coming out from the mists. There was a man who has been flung out by the ocean. He has a bullet shot in his back, bleeding and near death. Sadao takes the man into his house. To his surprise, he finds that the man is an American prisoner of war who has escaped. Initially, Dr. Sadao and his wife Hana consider leaving the man to die, but ultimately decide to bring him home and nurse him back to health.

A war was going on between America and Japan and thus it was a grave crime to give shelter to an enemy soldier. Sadao could be arrested and punished for that. So he thinks of putting the man back into the sea. But then he thinks of his duty as a doctor also. He has been trained not to let a man die if he can help it. So he decides to operate and take the bullet out of the soldier’s body. His wife gives him all help in doing so.

When a messenger arrives for her husband, Hana is terrified that the servants have spilled the beans and they are about to be punished. Instead, the message directed Dr. Sadao to a patient consultation with General Takima, a wife-beating hero of the Battle of Manchuria. Takima is very ill and will likely die without the surgical skill of the doctor. Sadao chooses to confess to the General about the situation with the injured soldier. The General, in a remarkable display of self-interest over duty agrees to keep the secret. After all, if he turns in the doctor, then Sadao will likely be executed and he needs the doctor alive in order to prolong his own life. They reach an agreement in which the General will send assassins to kill Tom. After a few days, the soldier not only has not been assassinated, but has recovered much of his strength which intensifies the doctor’s fear. Since it seems the General has changed the plans they agreed upon. Dr. Sadao ultimately decides to send Tom to an unguarded island in the sea and gives him a boat, food, and water to ensure his escape. Then the doctor is called in for emergency surgery to save the General’s life and when the patient is strong enough to receive the news, he tells him that his prisoner somehow escape in the night. The General confesses that he was worried about his own life to the degree that he had completely forgotten the assassination agreement. He then goes on to very strongly that it was simply a case of carelessness and most certainly not dereliction of duty or lack of patriotism. The two men strike a deal to keep secrets secret with the General promising Sadao that he will be rewarded.

As the doctor looks out toward the horizon for the American’s signal that he was still safely in his hiding spot awaiting the arrival of the fishing boat. But the sun sets without a signal, informing the doctor that the escape has successful. This, Dr. Sadao thinks, is his real reward. As he ponders his time in America, the true depth of his irrational prejudice against the white race is revealed through his thoughts. Such is the depth of his hatred of the “repulsive” whites of the world that he is actually glad the country is at war with them. Then muses to himself: “Strange. I wonder why I could not kill him?”

Throughout the story, the characters are faced with difficult ethical dilemmas and must weigh their duty to their country with their humanity. Dr. Sadao, in particular, struggles with his own patriotism and feelings of hatred towards Americans, but ultimately chooses to save Tom’s life. The story also highlights the importance of compassion and the belief that humanity should always come before nationality.

The Enemy Imp Questions and Answers

How the development in Dr. Sadao and his wife can be seen throughout the story?

In terms of character development, Dr. Sadao is depicted as a skilled doctor and scientist who is torn between his duty to his country and his conscience. His wife Hana is portrayed as a compassionate and strong woman who supports her husband’s decisions. Tom, the American prisoner of war, serves as a reminder of the human cost of war and the importance of treating all individuals with humanity, regardless of their nationality.

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.

In the story, the main character, Dr. Sadao, is faced with a difficult choice between his role as a private individual and his sense of national loyalty. As a doctor, Sadao had learned that one should always help the sick or the injured irrespective of caste, colour or nationality. Serving the sick is the best religion in the world. So being a doctor it’s his duty is to heal and save lives, regardless of the patient’s national identity. However, as a citizen of Japan during World War II, he is expected to show loyalty to his country and its war efforts. Dr. Sadao ultimately chooses to help the injured American soldier, putting his own safety and the safety of his family at risk, despite the potential consequences from his countrymen. This decision demonstrates the tension between one’s personal beliefs and the pressures of national loyalty.

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?

Hana, Dr. Sadao’s wife, is initially hesitant to help the injured soldier, but ultimately becomes sympathetic to her husband’s actions. She recognizes the moral dilemma that her husband is facing, and despite the open defiance from the domestic staff, she immediately started following the instructions given by her husband. She had never seen an operation before and this was the first time they had kept a room reserved in their own house for a patient that too for the one who was in very pathetic condition She also comes to understand that the soldier is not just an enemy, but a human being in need of medical assistance.

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 soldier’s reluctance to leave the shelter of the doctor’s home can be attributed to his fear of being captured or killed by the Japanese military. He knows that staying with the doctor and his family puts them at risk, but the alternative seems even more dangerous. Additionally, the soldier has grown to trust and rely on the doctor and his family for care and protection, making it difficult for him to leave their company.

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 General’s attitude towards the matter of the enemy soldier can be seen as a lack of human consideration. The doctor’s meeting with the general reveals that he was such a man who thought only of himself. The doctor had openly told him everything about the prisoner. As an army General, nothing should have been important to him more than killing Tom but his focus was only on himself. He is more concerned with maintaining the appearance of loyalty and obedience to the military’s orders, rather than showing empathy or compassion towards the soldier’s situation. His actions can be seen as a manifestation of his own self-absorption and lack of concern for the well-being of the individual.

While hatred against a member of the enemy race is justifiable, especially during wartime, what makes a human being rise above narrow prejudices?

There is no doubt that when war is going on between two countries then there is bound to be hatred for each other in the minds of the citizens of those two countries. Human beings may rise above narrow prejudices through understanding and empathy. In the story, Dr. Sadao and Hana both come to see the injured soldier as a human being in need of help, rather than just an enemy combatant. They are able to put aside their initial feelings of hatred and mistrust towards him, and instead choose to act with compassion and kindness. Additionally, the soldier’s vulnerability and shared humanity leads them to see him as more than just an enemy.

Do you think the doctor’s final solution to the problem was the best possible one in the circumstances?

Dr. Sadao’s final solution to the problem, of turning the soldier over to the Japanese military, can be seen as the best possible one in the circumstances. He realizes that the soldier’s continued presence in his home puts his family and himself at risk and ultimately chooses the path that would ensure their safety. He successfully send the American soldier to a nearby island with some food items. From where he will catch the Korean ship and reach his destination.

Does the story remind you of ‘Birth’ by A. J. Cronin that you read in Snapshots last year? What are the similarities?

The story does have some similarities to “Birth” by A. J. Cronin, as both stories deal with the theme of compassion and empathy towards people irrespective of who they are. Both stories also deal with the tension between personal beliefs and societal pressures, and the difficult choices that arise from this tension. The story line may be different but the work of both is same. Patient was of paramount importance in both cases.

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