Quiet American Morality

Decent Essays
Graham Greene's The Quiet American demonstrates the façade of morality in the world, specifically in foreign affairs, and how it negatively affects humanity as the true ulterior motives pronounce themselves. The Quiet American has many contemporary resonances; especially the complex role the US has in world politics. The novel contains suggested criticism of the new US colonialism, demonstrated in the Indochinese setting and personified in the character of Alden Pyle, the "quiet American".
Greene's first-person narrator, Thomas Fowler, bears an intrigued, challenged and irritated attitude towards Pyle, an earnest, naive young American, described by several characters as the "quiet American". He maintains a conservative, old-fashioned and idealist
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As a war narrative, Greene's novel introduces the reader to modern warfare, the French use of napalm, the local warlord in the form of General, the guerilla mode of the Viet Minh, predecessors of the Viet Cong. Fowler's witnessing of a dive-bombing of a sampan and a street massacre using bicycle bombs have strong contemporary resonances to "embedded" journalists and the Middle East situation. As a political document, it anticipates developments that have come to dominate global politics, especially the use by the US of the domino theory to justify intervention in Vietnam (as in Cuba and Chile). It reflects the Cold War focus on crushing communism and then the new colonialism of spreading a particular definition and form of democracy. As a character study, the novel develops a detailed portrait and makes a close examination of the psychology of men, competition and ageing. The love triangle brings this into sharper focus, but Fowler's reactions to Pyle reveal a kind of alter-ego relationship. Pyle sees Fowler as cynical but straight, which is not totally accurate in his desperate bid to hold on to Phuong. Pyle seems more self-convinced but also far from innocent. He dies for his cause, believing he protects both a woman and a country, but without the honor he naively prizes. He represents an agent and sets the precedent for state-backed terrorism - making it unsurprising that Noyce's film of The Quiet American was shelved in September
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