The Quiet American

In Graham Greene’s The Quiet American, Greene uses the characters Thomas Fowler and Alden Pyle to represent a greater picture. In the interactions among these characters, he is simplifying the situation in Vietnam into a personal model to be viewed. Graham Greene developed the attitudes and personalities of his characters almost to be a condensed legend of the countries they represented. In their actions, and opinions formed on them by others, was a reflection of the general feeling overall in Vietnam. Alden Pyle is the title quiet American sent to Vietnam with orders. Seemingly he is quiet because he is the innocent, neutral party coming to aid by selling plastic. He has a good reputation, and is very curt and proper. Nave is best to superficially describe his demeanor; he is only trying to help. But ignorance is probably better to this character for he does not realize the destruction he is causing and does not realize that he is more meddlesome than helpful. And that is exactly what Graham Greene is trying to portray this character’s representation of the United States. Pyle as an individual reflects America as a whole as they were seen as ignorantly trying to interfere in Vietnam, being neutral. But actually harming in trying to help Pyle as a character and as the symbol of his country was portrayed of promising the Vietnamese things, trying to forge for them a new life they did not need nor understand. This is seen with his relationship with Phuong as he woos her away from Thomas Fowler with promises of skyscrapers and the Statue of Liberty. Phuong, can be seen as the innocent country Vietnam whose promising lands pose the stage for a war between the politics of greedier forces. Phuong and the majority of Vietnam, the peasants, know nothing but their simple existence. They farm their rice paddies; they sustain themselves- that is all they know. No matter who wins the war, how will it affect most of…

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