The Quiet American

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The Quiet American is a novel that captures a period of time in a country that is consumed by a war, a war with deep foreign involvement. In amongst all of the political and social unrest within the country is Thomas Fowler, a British journalist. Throughout the novel we see Fowler's interactions with the country in which he resides, Vietnam, symbolised by his mistress Phuong. His distaste with the American presence within the country is also personified in his relationship with the young American idealist, Alden Pyle. Pyle and Fowler though holding opposing political views, share in common a desire for Phuong. Throughout the novel we see that the original holder of Phuong's interests, Fowler, openly and unsparingly criticises Pyle's desire for her. It can be seen that he is, ultimately, in no position to do so considering the state of his relationship with Phuong. Though Fowler's desires for Phuong are less noble than Pyle's, his criticism is justified from his perspective.

Throughout the story, we are introduced into Fowler's personal world, in which his mistress Phuong features extensively. Fowler's cynical and somewhat solemn attitude expresses quite bluntly his feelings for Phuong, but Graham Greene's portrayal ensures that all is not entirely revealed. An element of uncertainty in regards to Fowler's feelings on the reader's part exists, as at it can be seen that Fowler treats her as an object, whilst all the while having a deep attachment to her, as can be seen by the fact that he weeps at the possibility of losing Phuong. His promiscuity in the past is mentioned but in his relationship with Phuong, it is apparent that he has left this aspect of him behind, choosing to pursue a relationship with one single woman. This leads to the conclusion that in Phuong he has found a love that has changed his ways, perhaps for the better. His desires for Phuong exist on multiple levels, with his need for her as a companion or a domestic, maid or servant-like figure...
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