Summary and Analysis:
During the World War an American prisoner of war is washed ashore in a dying state and is found at the doorstep of a Japanese doctor. The whole fiction very poignantly deals with the doctor’s moral perplexity as regards making a choice between saving the dying man as a doctor and handing him over to the Army as a patriot. The story involves a doctor’s moral and ethical duties at professional level and patriotic devotion at national level. Moreover he can’t forget his familial duties as well. All these aspects make the story multidimensional and a classic piece of war literature.
Dr. Sadao Hoki is not only a good surgeon but also an accomplished scientist. He is perfecting a discovery that will render wounds entirely clean. Because of this and because the General might need an operation for a condition for which he is being treated medically at the moment, Sadao is kept in Japan instead of sending him abroad along with the troops. Apart from enjoying the status of being the best Japanese surgeon, Sadao is also an extraordinarily good individual with sterling qualities. His efforts to respond to the moral duties as a human being as well as the ethical call of his profession give him nearly a godly stature. Moreover his sense of responsibility as a doctor coupled with human fellow feeling is surely above all racist considerations.
But at the same time, we must not forget that Sadao’s father inculcated in him great values of patriotic devotion and national loyalty when the latter was very young. Sadao has grown up with such great values that it is now quite impossible for him not to respond to the call of his loyalty to the nation. But he can’t respond to the calls of both his professional ethics and the national loyalty simultaneously. This leads Sadao to undergo a very traumatic period right from the time he starts nurturing the wounded American soldier till he finally packs him off at the grave risk to his own life and his family.
Interestingly enough, Hana, Sadao’s wife, supports Sadao through and through. The question arises why she should have helped and supported her husband while neither has she any moral compulsions nor any ethical obligations to fulfill on one hand and on the other she is very much aware of her duties as a citizen of Japan. But we should remember here that Hana makes Sadao a fine wife and they are a happy couple on many counts. She solemnly considers it her sacred duty to help and support her beloved husband who has been going through an inexplicable mental trauma. On the other hand this is not unknown to Sadao that his wife has been going through a lot of trouble for his sake. This pains him so much that he decides to get rid of the white man as early as possible.
It is really strange that people suffer to a phenomenal degree because of their unflagging conscience. Sadao is no exception in this regard. Despite all moral dilemma, he listens to his heart every time and takes the right decision and his wife Hana very gently follows him. As they shelter the white man in their house despite knowing the identity of the man being one of the Prisoners of War and then save the man by means of a successful surgery, all their servants first go against them, criticize them openly and then finally leave the household causing the couple inordinate difficulties. But both Sadao and Hana stoically and undauntedly bear all this and come out victorious in helping their enemy out in the face of stiff opposition from the servants and their own pangs of conscience.