Essay The Quiet American by Graham Greene

Essay The Quiet American by Graham Greene

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The Quiet American is written by Graham Greene. This novel is about the conflict between Alden Pyle and Thomas Fowler. The novel’s events have already taken place and Fowler is the narrator of the story. Thomas Fowler, a man in his fifties, is a British journalist who has been covering the events taking place in the French War in Vietnam for over two years. He chooses to remain neutral between the sides of the battles he covers. He meets Alden Pyle, a young American who is well educated and secretly works in a secret agent service. Pyle has read numerous books written by a scholar named York Harding, who believes that a “Third Force” is needed in Vietnam, which is neither communism nor colonialism. Pyle is opposite of Fowler because Pyle is a believer of the “Third Force” and also, Pyle is naïve. Pyle fails to recognize the consequences of a majority of his actions. The conflict between these two not only involve their opposing beliefs but it also comes from their relationship with Phuong, Fowler’s live-in lover. Pyle and Fowler meet at a hotel called the Continental, which is where Pyle also meets Phuong. Pyle is captivated by Phuong and has the chance to dance with her. While Fowler is covering a battle for his journalism of the war, Pyle goes to tell him immediately that he has been in love with Phuong ever since he met her and that he wants to marry her. Fowler is annoyed by Pyle’s confidence that Phuong will leave him for Pyle. In an incident at a guard tower, Pyle saves Fowler’s life after he breaks his leg as they attempt to escape from soldiers. After hearing rumors about Pyle, Fowler starts to investigate Pyle’s actions and finds out that he is importing military supplies from the United States into Vietnam. Later, while ...


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...annot measure the weight of a person’s life. The central theme of the novel is that no matter how great your morals may be, it is inevitable that a decision must be made. For Fowler, it is the bomb which killed so many innocents that moved Fowler’s heart. He could not live with the guilt if he did not take the action to have Pyle eliminated, although he had someone else do the dirty work. In the end, Fowler finally realizes that there can be no ambivalence. Fowler’s decision in having Pyle eliminated was both political and personal. It was for the good of preserving the innocents and also so that Fowler could get rid of Pyle and keep Phuong to himself. Though things with Phuong are back to the way they were, Fowler’s personal decisions will never be simple again.



Works Cited

Greene, Graham. The Quiet American. El Camino College ed. New York: Viking, 1956. Print.

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