Many adjectives have been used to describe the novels and plays of Graham Greene - timely, religious, melodramatic, even 'seedy'' (Graham Greene, A Collection of Critical Essays, back cover). Although this may not be entirely true in Greene's other work, it is certainly true in his novel, The Quiet American. The Quiet American is judged as one of Greene*s 'entertainments' that include comedies, spy fiction, and thrillers that take place in foreign countries (Introduction). According to World Literature Critics editor, James P. Draper,
The Quiet American is set in South Vietnam and anticipates U.S. involvement in the Vietnam conflict. The novel*s protagonist, Alden Pyle, who is ignorant of Oriental culture, is depicted as a symbol of American arrogance (1537).
Written in 1955, The Quiet American is a tale of a young American who is now dead because of his personal involvement in the French-Vietminh war. A British reporter, Fowler, tells the story from his point of view.
Fowler and Pyle were both in love with the same woman, Phuong. Phuong first started off as Fowler*s girlfriend, but when she realized he could not give her what she wanted, children, because of his wife who will not divorce him because of religious reasons, she leaves for Pyle. Fowler and Pyle still remain friends, but Fowler always carries some envy for Pyle*s youth and confidence. Fowler is against personal involvement in the war and when he realizes that Pyle is supplying plastic bomb materials to a 'third force,' he discourages him. Even then, Pyle does not listen and Fowler kills him indirectly. While the novel*s theme lies in the issue of personal involvement, the relationship of Fowler, Pyle, the American, and Phoung, a Chinese woman, is also described in detail. Greene represents himself through the British reporter, Fowler, and shows...