The Quiet American - Fowler and Pyle

Essay by 949539 October 2014

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1. In some ways, Greene's characters are representations of these various positions and, as such, have an element of contrivance about them. Fowler and Pyle, for instance, appear diametrically opposed: Fowler, the older Englishman, symbolic of the rational and calm attitudes brought about by experience and decency; Pyle, young, naïve and overwhelmingly confident in his ability to create a better world, symbolic of the newness of America as a world power.

2. The major focus of The Quiet American is upon the narrator, Thomas Fowler, who introduces and interprets Alden Pyle for the reader. The contrasts between Pyle and Fowler are those between youth and age, innocence and experience, naivete and cynicism. The younger Pyle can be regarded as both Fowler's friend and rival. As the narrative advances, Pyle begins to emerge as Fowler's enemy, but the man is such a trusting fool.

As a news-man, Fowler prefers to call himself a reporter rather than a correspondent.

He takes professional pride in being "objective," detached, and disengaged. His alleged detachment is contrasted to Pyle's idealistic involvement, personally and professionally.

Professionally, Pyle works for the American Economic Aid Mission, but this is merely a cover. Pyle is in fact a CIA agent attempting to build support for the puppet warlord General The. His "mission" is not economic but military and anti-Communistic. Pyle's cover is gradually disclosed as Fowler explains the events leading to Pyle's murder.


Thomas Fowler

Thomas Fowler, the narrator, a British war correspondent based in Saigon during the French-Vietnamese conflict. Middle-aged, jaded, and cynical, he takes pride in his detachment-both from the war and from life-always stressing his role as a reporter, an observer of facts, a man without opinions. Beneath his cool façade, however, he loves Vietnam and its people. Unlike other Western correspondents,