The protagonist and narrator of The Quiet American, Thomas Fowler is a cynical, middle-aged English journalist who has been reporting on the military conflict in Vietnam for more than two years. An experienced journalist… read analysis of Thomas Fowler
Alden Pyle is young, highly idealistic, and romantic—the titular quiet American. A professor’s son, Pyle has led a gentle, intellectual life in Boston and at Harvard University, where he first encounters the writings of his… read analysis of Alden Pyle
Phuong Hei is a young, beautiful Vietnamese woman, for whom Thomas Fowler and Alden Pyle compete throughout The Quiet American. Although Fowler and Pyle often treat her as an “object”—a prize to be fought… read analysis of Phuong Hei
An enigmatic Vietnamese military commander, General Thé uses violence and cruelty to achieve his political aims, but it’s never made clear what these aims are. Thé becomes an object of great fascination for Alden… read analysis of General Thé
An influential intellectual and author of The Role of the West, a book idolized by Alden Pyle. York Harding believes that the proper “path” for Third World Countries must be neither Communism nor… read analysis of York Harding
A Vietnamese businessman and manufacturer who helps Alden Pyle build plastic explosives, but also plays an important part in ordering Pyle’s death. Heng is seemingly amoral, and realistic about his position in Vietnam—he explains to… read analysis of Mr. Heng
An experienced French military officer who escorts Fowler through Phat Diem.
An associate of both Pyle and General Thé.
Fowler’s loyal informant and gatherer of facts. Throughout the novel, Dominguez is responsible for most of the discoveries that lead Fowler to realize that Pyle is behind the wave of bombings throughout Saigon.
A Vietnamese businessman and manufacturer who helps Alden Pyle build plastic explosives.
A French police inspector and supposed friend of Fowler’s, who investigates Pyle’s death and seems to suspect Fowler of complicity.
A Vietnamese manufacturer who participates in the building of Pyle’s plastic explosives.
An important French officer, with whom Fowler plays cards and smokes opium. He seems unwilling to believe that Fowler is truly not engagé, arguing that everyone is “a part” of the war.
A journalist and friend of Fowler’s.
A loud, obnoxious American reporter, self-admittedly indifferent to the facts or the truth. Granger’s son is suffering from polio, though by the end of the novel it seems that he will survive.
Miss Hei / Phuong’s sister
Phuong’s sister, Miss Hei, works as a typist in the American Legation for Alden Pyle. She’s intelligent and proficient in both Vietnamese and English. She dislikes Pyle because she thinks he pays no attention to her.
Alden Pyle’s loyal dog.
A reporter and old friend of Fowler’s.
An American Legation employee who works alongside Miss Hei and Alden Pyle.