The Quiet American by Graham Greene

1629 Words Oct 7th, 2008 7 Pages
Graham Greene's novel, The Quiet American, is more than a political statement about whether or not America or any other country for that matter should become involved in the affairs of another country; Greene makes the question human and personal. The novel can be read as a political and moral reflection on the opening stages of the United States’ involvement in Southeast Asia. Therefore, Greene’s novel becomes a commentary on the pointlessness of the United States’ later investment of men and material in a political action that could only end, as it did for the French, in defeat.
The Quiet American is considered one of Graham Greene’s major achievements. The story is told with excellent characterization and sophisticated irony. The plot
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He is hopelessly innocent. In one of his strongest metaphors, Greene likens innocence to “a dumb leper who has lost his bell, wandering the world, meaning no harm,” but obviously bearing contamination and corruption with him.
Fowler is a fascinating character and narrator because he simultaneously reveals and conceals so much about himself and his involvement in the story. On the one hand, he is openly contemptuous of Pyle. Like other Americans, Pyle is so obsessed with his mission to save the world that he does not register the reality around him. It is ridiculous for him to think that Phuong is an innocent he must rescue. She has stayed with Fowler because he offers her security. She leaves Fowler for Pyle because he offers her even more wealth and protection. Pyle is shocked because Fowler says he is merely using Phuong for his own pleasure and because of his need to have a woman beside him to stave off loneliness. It never occurs to Pyle that Phuong has acted just as selfishly or that Pyle himself is using people.
On the other hand, Fowler is not entirely honest with himself. He claims to be disengaged, not only from politics but also from the sentiments of love Pyle professes. Yet Fowler’s passionate rejection of Pyle’s worldview and his defense of the Vietnamese, who he believes should be allowed to work out their own destiny, free of the French, the Americans, and any other intruding power,
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