The Quiet American

Topics: Narrative mode, Vietnam War, The Quiet American Pages: 3 (1080 words) Published: November 28, 2012
The Quiet American
In The Quiet American Grahm Green writes of a complex love triangle taking place in Vietnam during the Vietnam War. He chooses Thomas Fowler as the protagonist to tell the story from a biased point of view. From the beginning, Fowler proclaims that he is objective. As the story progresses he is eventually gives into the desire to take action and get involved. It is not until after this climax that Fowler finally realizes and admits to himself that he cannot simply remain aloof his entire life. Green’s use of Fowler as an unstable narrator effectively depicts the complexity of human motive and how difficult it is to be honest, even to oneself. Fowler is a British journalist who has been working in Vietnam for several years. Living in an extremely controversial era in the middle of all the action, Fowler insists on remaining “not involved” (20). Fowler is a “reporter,” as opposed to a “correspondent,” for he reports what he sees and “[takes] no action” (20). He often likes to sit across the street form the milk-bar and just observe. Watching people of all shapes and colors go about their normal lives, Fowler does nothing himself, but simply watches. He even uses opium to achieve a state of complete impassiveness about the world and everything around him. Just a single pipe could make Fowler grow indifferent to the “presence or absence” of his lover (6); several more and he cannot decide whether his own death would be good or bad. Opium allows him to convince even himself that he really is indifferent to all that which goes on around him. He prides himself on remaining detached and not taking sides, saying it is “an article of [his] creed” (20). Based on his determination to be merely an observer, Fowler should make a fine narrator. Impartial and neutral, he would tell the story as is without even an opinions to cloud his mind, for “even an opinion is a kind of action” (20). Despite Fowler’s efforts, it soon becomes impossible for him to...
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