The Quiet American Book Summary and Study Guide

Detailed plot synopsis reviews of The Quiet American

The Quiet American by Graham Greene is a bleak and sorrowful novel set in French colonial Vietnam in the 1950's. On assignment in Vietnam, Fowler is a British foreign correspondent reporting the progress of the fighting between several warring factions trying to take control of the government and throw out the French. Fowler's life is a mess as he is a middle aged, opium addicted atheist in love with a young and beautiful Vietnamese orphan girl named Phuong.
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She is not quite a prostitute; she is more of an escort looking for love. Her elder sister seeks to find her a suitable husband but in the process she has become a fallen woman. Joe Pyle is a young, idealistic, "quiet" American working for an economic development organization. He steals Phuong away from Fowler but winds up dead in the river. Fowler is suspected of the murder. He recalls memories of his "friend" Pyle whom he never really knew, reliving past events involving himself, Phuong and Pyle.

As a reporter Fowler is not allowed to report anything but military victories as he endures gruesome and disturbing facets of life during wartime in a third world country. French colonialism in Vietnam is a paradoxical and surreal world of formalities, proper manners, and class elitism in stark contrast to the daily grim realities of opium addiction, brothels, death, and destruction.
The review of this Book prepared by David Fletcher

Chapter Analysis of The Quiet American

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Plot & Themes

Tone of book?    -   depressed Time/era of story    -   1930's-1950's Romance/Romance Problems    -   Yes Internal struggle/realization?    -   Yes Is this an adult or child's book?    -   Adult or Young Adult Book War/Revolt/Disaster on civilians    -   Yes Main char. serviced by prostitute?    -   Yes Conflict:    -   War, Vietnam Lover is    -   of a different race (interracial loving!)

Main Character

Gender    -   Male Profession/status:    -   journalist Age:    -   40's-50's Ethnicity/Nationality    -   British


How much descriptions of surroundings?    -   9 () Asia/Pacific    -   Yes Asian country:    -   Southeast Asia Jungles?    -   Yes City?    -   Yes City:    -   dangerous Misc setting    -   fort/military installation

Writing Style

Sex in book?    -   Yes What kind of sex:    -   vague references only Amount of dialog    -   roughly even amounts of descript and dialog

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Graham Greene Books Note: the views expressed here are only those of the reviewer(s).
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