Read It: The Quiet American

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The Quiet American

By Graham Greene

TFG July Book Discussion

Innocence always calls mutely for protection when we would be so much wiser to guard ourselves against it: innocence is like a dumb leper who has lost his bell, wandering the world, meaning no harm.

Fowler is a British journalist assigned in Vietnam to cover the ongoing war with the French. During his stay, he meets Pyle,  a young American idealist with a curious mission in Vietnam. He then learns of Pyle’s idealistic theories which are all based on York Harding’s  books on foreign policies about a Third Force which Pyle believes is the solution to the current war. A bomb detonates and kills innocent people. Fowler puts the pieces together and decides that he cannot stand neutral  after witnessing the deaths of women, children and innocent laborers. Pyle gets assassinated and Fowler is the suspect because the police believes he has a good reason to – because Pyle has stolen his mistress, Phoung.

  1. The premise was pretty good and felt like a good introduction to a mystery/thriller novel. The idea was to think who killed Pyle. Since Fowler was someone considered close to Pyle and who may have held grudges against him (because Pyle fell in love with Phoung, Fowler’s mistress, and wants to marry her), it was typical that Fowler be suspected of Pyle’s murder. I was actually rooting for Fowler, that he find out what happened to Pyle and uncover who the killer was.
  2. Fowler as the main character of the story was very direct. He says what he wants to say and is also quite apathetic with the politics going on in Vietnam (well, he was a journalist so I guess he should be) only until he felt that there was too much bloodshed on innocent people. He fought for his own cause amidst personal woes with his wife back in England and tried to do what he thought would be right to lessen unnecessary bombings in Vietnam.
  3. Pyle is a self-centered and idealistic young American. He has his own train of thought and theories which are all based on a book by an author who doesn’t have first-hand experience in war. He believes that he is fighting for a just cause and that what he is doing is for the better.
  4. Phoung, the young Vietminh girl between Pyle and Fowler was a stale character all throughout the novel. She doesn’t really have much voice and depth in character and I don’t think she loved either of the two. She was content with whoever can give her a comfortable life.
  5. I found it dragging to finish the book! I am not fond of historical war stories and am not too keen on reading about political fiction. It was too much for me. I like to read something enjoyable and entertaining.
  6. Even though I kept ranting how bored I was with the book, I really loved the twist. I loved the ending. Maybe it was only me who didn’t foresee it but I liked it anyway.

Everything had gone right with me since he had died, but how I wished there existed someone to whom I could say that I was sorry.

I have been vocal with my disinterest with historical fiction. I was never a fan. Even way back in high school, I have already detested history. I don’t know, there’s just something about it that I find tedious to read. I was hoping this book would help give me a better appreciation for historical fiction, it did but not to the extent that I would read something from the genre because I want to.

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About Elaine

interior designer | occasional bookworm | closet otaku | music lover | frustrated craftsman | lazy artist | part time bum
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