The Enemy Summary by Pearl S. Buck

Sadao Hoki – The Surgeon

This is a story of triumphant compassion that rises above petty differences, obscure biases, and incurable hatred. The story revolves around a 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 goes to America to learn his craft. He is quite happy to be given this opportunity and wanted to repay his father’s trust by contributing to his nation’s medical needs.

He also finds his wife Hana in the foreign land. His father is satisfied with his son’s choice. Hana is dutiful and understanding and takes well care of her husband and the house. They are forced to return home due to the War. They are also blessed with two kids and build a quiet life near the sea.

The majority 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.

A Strange Guest

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 an enemy soldier.

They are lost for words as their help can be termed as high treason and action against national security and interest. However, they are compelled by compassion and humanitarian instinct and decide to help a fellow nearing a painful death.

They drag him home and 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 treatment help the soldier recuperate.

Servants Try to Disclose Secret

In the end, the servants decide to disclose the secret about the enemy’s presence. Their insistence does not crumble the doctor’s resolve and never hands the enemy soldier to the police. Hence, the servants collectively leave their job.

One day the doctor goes to the General who needed some help. Finally, the doctor 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 killers to solve 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 grows exponentially as no assassin comes and the army man grows stronger.

The Escape

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 clothes, food, etc.

The boat would take him to an escape ship. The ship usually arrived from Korea and would to take him out of the hostile territory and into international waters. Thus, the soldier could escape without any problems.

Sadao narrated a contrived story about the soldier’s escape that left no evidence. To Dr. Hoki’s surprise, he had forgotten about the whole episode.


The story and humanity of Dr, Sadao, and Hana posit 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.