The Enemy


Pearl Buck

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Themes and Colors
Decisions and Duty Theme Icon
Humanization, Kindness, and Antagonism Theme Icon
Racism and Nationalism Theme Icon
LitCharts assigns a color and icon to each theme in The Enemy, which you can use to track the themes throughout the work.

Decisions and Duty

In “The Enemy,” set in Japan during World War II, a severely injured American prisoner of war named Tom washes up on the beach alongside the secluded home of a Japanese doctor named Dr. Sadao Hoki and his wife, Hana. For the bulk of the story, Sadao struggles to reconcile his duty as a surgeon, which goes directly against the grain of his duty as a loyal Japanese citizen. His occupation as a surgeon…

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Humanization, Kindness, and Antagonism

Throughout the course of “The Enemy,” Dr. Sadao Hoki struggles to come to terms with his conflicting impulses to see Tom—an American prisoner of war who has washed up on the beach alongside Sadao’s house—as an inhuman enemy and as a fellow man. The story is set in Japan in the thick of World War II, making it understandable that Sadao, a loyal Japanese citizen, would perceive Tom as an enemy. Even as Sadao…

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Racism and Nationalism

Set in Japan during World War II, “The Enemy” follows renowned surgeon Dr. Sadao Hoki and his wife, Hana, as they struggle to decide what to do with an American prisoner of war who has washed up on the beach alongside their house. The prisoner, a white teenager named Tom, is badly injured due to a fresh gunshot wound—evidence of his recent (and narrow) escape from Japanese authorities—and Sadao feels compelled as a…

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