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The Quite American

In: English and Literature

Submitted By vanlethanh
Words 5177
Pages 21
Anyone know about the symbolism in ‘A Quiet American’ by Graham Greene? | Pyle represents the idealistic New Age America, thirsty for heroism.
Phuong represents pre-war Vietnam, passive, innocent.
What exactly does Fowler represent? Is it the wisdom and world-weariness of Old Europe or Britain’s involvement in the war simply for personal gain? | The symbolism of the individual characters has to be placed within the context of colonialism, since that was the relationship between the nations they each represented.
Pyle's motives are far from heroic. An idealism that is motivated by interventionism in a Third World country's affairs can be dangerous and destructive, not only in the way Graham Greene saw it in the early fifties, but as history proved it by the events that unfolded years later, leading to the US war in Viet Nam. Or for what is happening now in Iraq, if you will.
Fowler had the "old colonialist" wisdom that questioned Pyle's justification for violence. He had already learned that "democracy" is something many countries neither understand nor want, and any foreign attempt to impose it is doomed to failure.
I don't know that this helps, but I can't see the novel any other way. | | Outline of characters | Thomas Fowler is a British journalist in his fifties who has been covering the French war in Viet Nam for over two years. He meets a young American idealist named Alden Pyle, who is a student of York Harding. Harding's theory is that neither Communism nor colonialism are the answer in foreign lands like Viet Nam, but rather a "Third Force," usually a combination of traditions, works best. Unlike most Americans, Pyle is thoughtful and soft-spoken. Fowler finds him naïve.

Alden Pyle is the "quiet American" of the title. He is the opposite of a stereotypical American abroad: the loud obnoxious American in a Hawaiian shirt with a camera....

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