The Quiet American

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The Quiet American Part 3, Chapter 1, Section 1 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
The third part of The Quiet American opens two weeks after Pyle’s death. Fowler goes to visit Vigot, who’s playing cards and gambling in a local club. Fowler joins the game, and as he and Vigot play, they talk, very casually, about Pyle’s death. Vigot tells Fowler that “they” found Pyle’s dog, Duke, with its throat slit. Fowler shakes his head at this news, and claims, once again, that he’s not engagé—he’s just a journalist. Vigot disputes this—Fowler is engagé, even if he doesn’t admit it.
It’s been a while since we’ve been on the other side of Pyle’s death. This “cut forward’ is especially jarring because in the previous part of the novel we were getting a sense for Pyle’s character, and now he’s suddenly dead again. Vigot’s reminder that Fowler is engagé is the most straightforward expression of Greene’s theme: you can’t help but be engagé in a war.
Themes
Impartiality and Action Theme Icon
Inevitability of Death Theme Icon
Friendship, Loyalty, and Betrayal Theme Icon
Romance and Sex Theme Icon
Vigot and Fowler continue to talk and gamble. Vigot asks Fowler about Phuong, and Fowler replies that he and Phuong are “all right,” but then admits that they’ve been unhappy. Vigot gets up to leave Fowler. Fowler thinks that Vigot looks at him as if Fowler is a suffering prisoner, sentenced for life.
For not the first time in The Quiet American, Greene suggests that Fowler sees the world as a projection of his own anxiety. Thus, it’s not clear if Vigot actually looks at Fowler this way, or if Fowler just thinks he does, because of his own guilt in Pyle’s death.
Themes
Vietnam and the West Theme Icon
Impartiality and Action Theme Icon
Inevitability of Death Theme Icon
Friendship, Loyalty, and Betrayal Theme Icon