The central theme of the lesson, ‘The Enemy’ deals with the paradox of how a human being can also be termed as the enemy of a nation which is at war with another nation.The white sailor who is washed on to the shore is labelled as 'The Enemy' according to the Laws of the Land, and one wonders whether the harsh rules of patriotism might not ultimately challenge the very laws of humanity! It is in light this consideration that the next issue crops up, and that is, who is the guiltier of the two, Dr Sadao, or General Takima? The Lesson, ‘The Enemy ’- an extract from one of Pearl S. Buck’s works is a seminal prose piece which challenges our understanding of the narrow limitations of Patriotism by presenting before us the higher laws of humanity!
To begin analysing the whole issue, one might agree that by giving shelter to ‘The Enemy’ Dr Sadao had broken the rules of patriotism, and he could even be guilty of treason! But then one should also go into the motive for giving shelter to the white sailor Tom, was it that he had a sympathy for Americans since he had studied in America? The answer to this question is a clear no and moreover Dr Sadao makes it clear that there was sense of, ‘repulsion’ in the minds of Dr Sadao and Hana. So then why did he desire to save the life of the white sailor and does it make his crime less acute than that of General Takima? The answer to this question deals with his profession which was saving lives, and the Gardener’s complaint about his master is that, ‘he saves any life’ without distinction between enemy and friend apparently! It is clear that for Dr Sadao, the very purpose of his life was to save lives without distinction, and this is exactly why he went ahead to save the life of Tom! Faced by the dilemma of saving Tom’s life or turning him over to the authorities, he instinctively decides to do the former, as handing him over to the authorities would result in his death. While operating on Tom, Dr Sadao’s hands move deftly of their own accord, they are the skilful hands of an accomplished Surgeon! It is clear, therefore that Dr Sadao was compelled by his duty as a doctor to help the enemy soldier.
Like Dr Sadao is equally party to the crime of treason for the very fact that he didn’t report the presence of the, ‘Enemy Sailor’ in Dr Sadao’s home! General Takima chose to keep the presence of Tom under wraps, but then unlike Dr Sadao, this was not out of a desire to save a life, ( in any case, General Takima was known for his ruthlessness in quelling dissent and there were rumours about torture), rather it was all about using the information about the white sailor as tool of leverage over Dr Sadao so that he would continue to treat General Takima! General Takima’s crime against the state is based more on selfish reasons than a desire to give precedence to the higher laws of humanity over the laws of patriotism! That this is indeed the case becomes clear after the operation when both Dr Sadao and General Takima engage in a conversation. General Takima tries to defend himself for not sending the assassins suggesting that he, “was suffering a good deal. The truth is, I thought of nothing but myself. In short, I forgot my promise to you.” General Takima goes on to impress upon Dr Sadao that, “ it was not lack of patriotism or dereliction of duty” that had made him turn a blind eye to the whole issue. Dr Sadao realized however after the conversation with General Takima that, ‘the General was in the palm of his hand and that,’ consequently at least, ‘he was perfectly safe’ from any action that the General might plan to take against him in order to ensure that he continued to treat him! Dr Sadao now knew that the General was after all a selfish cowardly man who thought about himself before the nation! This in any case is not true about Dr Sadao!
Dr Sadao, unlike the General didn’t have a selfish motive for saving the life of Tom, while the General did have a selfish motive in not reporting the presence of the white sailor to the authorities. They both were guilty of the crime of treason, but the the nature of their guilt varies. With Dr Sadao it was about giving precedence to the higher laws of humanity than to the harsh laws of patriotism, while for the General it was about giving the self precedence over the Nation and its strict laws of patriotism. What Dr Sadao had done was to suggest and prove how the higher laws of humanity are greater than the narrow harsh and inflexible laws of patriotism. It was an affirmation about how respect for humanity can help transcend the narrow barriers and boundaries that divide nations on the basis of colour, language, race, and geographical distinctions! It is clear from the outset that General Takima stands out as the guiltier of the two because of the fact that his motives for breaking the rules were based almost entirely on selfish reasons, to be able to blackmail and compel Dr Sadao to continue treating him without fail. Dr.Sadao too broke the laws of the land, but then the motive was fair, it was not selfish, it was about obeying the higher laws of humanity and it was about saving a life, something he had promised to do when he took the oath of Hippocrates- in a way he was doing a duty towards humanity, he was doing his job as a surgeon! A final round of questions would perhaps clear any doubts we might have about who is the guiltier of the two – What would you choose in such a case, humanity or the discriminating laws of Patriotism? What would you choose you self or the nation? What would you choose risk your life to save another’s life, or save your own life at the cost of another’s life? Dr. Sadao risked his life in order to save the life of the white sailor!