Pyle and Fowler are driving away from the Caodaist festival. In the car, Pyle raises the topic of Phuong. He explains that he’s applied for a transfer out of Saigon, and asks Fowler if he’s leaving Vietnam any time soon. He doesn’t want Phuong to be alone without either of them. As they talk, Fowler realizes that his car is running out of gas—thieves in Tanyin must have stolen gas from his tank.
Pyle’s affection for Phuong seems perfectly sincere—clearly he’s thinking about her almost constantly—but he’s barely spent any time with her. It’s as if Pyle is going through the motions of romance, based on what he’s read or seen in films.
Fowler and Pyle drive toward a French fortress, using the remaining gas in Fowler’s car. They climb out of the car and Fowler yells to the guards, in French, that they are friends. There is no reply. Fowler finds a ladder leaning against the wall of the fortress, and climbs to the top.
Once again, Fowler displays greater bravery than Pyle. He’s lived a long life already, and seems willing to sacrifice it for the sake of other people, even his romantic rival.