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The Quiet American Reading Log

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The Quiet American: Reading Log


Chapter 1

Narrator lives in room alone over Rue Catinat

Associated with a man named Pyle, has met him many times before

Phuong- meaning Phoenix waits for Pyle also. She speaks French. Phuong cannot wait in public as the police may pick her up

Phuong and Pyle are a couple

Phuong was once in a relationship with the narrator

Pyle "Had pronounced and aggravated views on what the US was doing for the world"

Narrator smokes opium pipes regularly

Phuong replies to the whether Pyle loves her and narrator's thoughts: "'In Love?' - Perhaps it was one of the phrases she didn't understand."

Pyle is an associate of General Thй

Narrator is not homesick? "I never wanted to go home." He's in love with Phuong still, yet Pyle has Phuong.

"'I wish I were Pyle,' I said aloud, but the pain was limited and bearable - the opium saw to that."

Narrators name is Fowler. Fowler is a very polite gentleman, well mannered.

There seems to be no power for anyone, Police appear corrupt. "Legality was not essential in a country at war."

Different sides: Communists, French

Private armies: Hoa-Hoas, Caodists, General Thй

What is Phuong? Vigot believes she is a prostitute being paid.

Description of Pyle by Fowler: "'He's a good chap in his way. Serious. Not one of those noisy bastards at the Continental. A quiet American,' I summed him precisely up as I might have said, 'a blue lizard', 'a white elephant'."

Gives up waiting for Pyle, assumes him dead.

Pyle appears to be a young man, out of college. He was a 32 year old American, and employed in the Economic Aid Mission.

Fowler has been aged by the war.

Pyle "He was absorbed already in the dilemmas of Democracy and the responsibilities of the West; he was determined - I learnt that very soon - to do good, not to any individual person but to a country, a continent, a world."

Phuong in a war: Pyle vs Fowler, she left Fowler for Pyle

"'Everything was important to Pyle'"

Pyle is found dead under a bridge

Saigon is a very dangerous place, there're grilles on windows to keep out grenades

Vigot on Pyle: "'I am not altogether sorry. He was doing a lot of harm.'

'God save us always,' I said, 'from the innocent and the good.'"

Vigot raises questions of Fowlers innocence

When IDing Pyle's body: Fowler thinks: "He looked more than ever out of place: he should have stayed at home. I saw him in a family snapshot album, riding on a dude ranch, bathing on Long Island, photographed with his colleagues in some apartment on the twenty-third floor. He belonged to the skyscraper and the express elevator, the ice-cream and the dry Martinis, milk at lunch, and chicken sandwiches on the Merchant Limited." Seems such a waste of innocent youth.

Fowler: "I was a correspondent: I thought in headlines." Work is his life

Pyle: "Before he died he had been responsible for at least fifty deaths, for it would have damaged Anglo-American relations, and the Minister would have been upset." Maybe Pyle wasn't as innocent as he appeared. How could he be responsible for these deaths if he was there to help.

Phuong stays the night then with Fowler, she doesn't show much loyalty. Fowler thinks: "'am I the only one who really cared for Pyle?'"

Chapter 2



"The French, who were, when all was said, fighting this war"

Pyle Before: "Pyle was quiet, he seemed modest, sometimes that first day I had to lean forward to catch what he was saying. And he was very, very serious."

"But he criticized nobody."

Pyle seems young and homesick

Fowler doesn't have an opinion on much; he just sits on the fence.

Pyle is loyal to those he respects.

Fowler is a much respected journalist; he's greeted members of Parliament, the British Prime Minister...

Private Army's cont... Binh Xuyen

3rd Army: General Thй, was Caodaist, Chief of Staff, "But he's taken to the hills to fight both sides, the French, the Communists..."

Fowler is in love with Phuong, and doesn't want to return home.


Fowler doesn't know how to deal with death, after Pyle died. "One is not jealous of the dead, and it seemed easy to me that morning to take up our old life together." He has Phuong back.

Army's cont... Vietminh, Vietnamese Suretй

Very mixed up war

Fowler about Pyle's death: "'You can rule me out,' I said. 'I'm not involved. Not involved,' I repeated. It had been an article of my creed. The human condition being what it was, let them fight, let them love, let them murder, I would not be involved. My fellow journalists called themselves correspondents; I preferred the title of reporter. I wrote what I saw. I took no action - even an opinion is a kind of action."

Pyle isn't very wealthy. She has a box of possessions ("It contained her picture books.") She had "Less than a week-end visitor's at home".

Fowler was jealous of Pyle: "But, after all, he had had Phuong."



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