The Quiet American - Taking Sides Is Human

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The Quiet American, by Graham Greene, implements a number of techniques to persuade the reader to believe that taking sides is human. This is done mainly through character development, events, narrative and setting. Using these techniques, Graham Greene is able to successfully create invited readings which support his views.

Important to this process, character development is the center of this novel, and a powerful force behind the beliefs and invited readings presented by the text. Using characters, Greene has positioned readers to take the stance that everyone takes sides. Particularly, we see this through Fowler as he goes from being a passive observer to an active participant. To begin with, Greene represents Fowler as a character who is happy to observe events taking place, with no will to interfere. Fowler is quoted as saying, "I wrote what I saw. I took no action -even an opinion is a kind of action." (Page 28) This clearly demonstrates Fowler's unyielding motivation to keep to himself away from the situation. As Fowler continues to develop throughout the novel, he begins to realize that he cannot sit back and let Pyle continue to kill innocent people. Hints towards his later change of mind come from Captain Trouin, who says, "One day something will happen. You will take a side." (Page 151) As Fowler makes the final arrangements to have Pyle ‘talked to' he thinks back specifically to this quote as he decides to finally take action.

The issue of taking sides is represented by important events throughout the novel. Fowler's actions are largely a result of the events within the novel, which are carefully constructed to influence the character's path as well as the invited readings. Using the events within the novel, Greene is able to promote the value of individual opinion. In order to buildup to the sudden change in Fowler's attitudes, many events took place. Fowler had seen much of the destruction as a result of the civil war, he had seen the bodies...
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