Doc Hata fantasized about the war coming to an end soon and running off with K, but K rejected his fantasy, saying that it wouldn’t become a reality before Captain Ono came for her that night.
K lay down to sleep, and as Doc Hata stroked her hair, he became aroused and initiated sex with her. The experience filled him with warmth, and he felt that he would anything to protect her. As he left her side he whispered, “I love you.” Standing outside her door, he thought he heard her saying his name, “hata-hata,” but he soon realized that she was crying.
Exhilarated by his sense that he and K shared a special “affinity of being,” Doc Hata sought out Captain Ono. He confronted his superior officer about his plans for K as well as about what he believed was Ono’s plan to usurp control from Colonel Ishii.
Ono heard Doc Hata out but then criticized him for his inability to act. He knew Doc Hata wanted to become a surgeon, but whereas a surgeon makes a decision and acts on it, Doc Hata depends too much on the vagueness of “gesture.” Ono called Doc Hata a fool for thinking he could protect K’s honor. Doc Hata insisted that he loved K, and Ono replied that K was pregnant before she arrived at the camp. In response, Doc Hata tackled Ono and dislocated his shoulder. Ono pulled out his gun and beat Doc Hata unconscious.
Doc Hata’s account of his relationship with his adoptive parents suggests an important difference between his upbringing as an adoptee and Sunny’s. When K asked him whether or not he and his adoptive parents treated each other like “real” family, she pointed to a question of authenticity that has long plagued the relationship between Doc Hata and Sunny. Doc Hata initially wanted to adopt a daughter of “like-enough race” whom others in his community would readily accept as his own. Yet as he recounted in Chapter 10, he felt disappointed when he found that Sunny appeared to have a mixed-race background and hence did not share a reasonable likeness with her adoptive father. Without the appearance of authenticity, Doc Hata felt taken aback, and this initial moment of hesitation has remained a constitutive part of their relationship ever since. Although Doc Hata supported Sunny throughout her adolescence just as his own adoptive parents did for him, he never felt the unconditional love he’d expected to feel toward his own child. And, in turn, Sunny has never shown him the honor and respect that he felt he owed to his own adoptive parents.
Doc Hata’s fascination with the heart strikes the reader as ironic given that he has such a hard time navigating matters of the heart. When Doc Hata explained his desire to become a cardiopulmonary surgeon to K, he spoke with an interest that went beyond scientific fascination. Although inspired by the scene he once witnessed of a surgeon massaging a man’s heart with his hands, Doc Hata also nourished a personal philosophy of the heart as a spiritual organ. That is, he understood the heart as a material vessel that housed a person’s immaterial soul. In this regard, the heart represented for Doc Hata not just a physical entity but a metaphysical one that animated a person and guided them through the rocky terrain of life. In the particularly difficult time of the war, Doc Hata increasingly felt like his heart drew him toward K. Energized by his affection for her, he confronted his ill-tempered superior officer and dared to proclaim his love for her. Yet the reader, who knows that K doesn’t share Doc Hata’s feelings, sees his love as naïve and one-sided, and therefore agrees with Ono when he scoffs at Doc Hata’s earnest proclamation.