Colonialism In Graham Greene's The Quiet American

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Graham Greene 's The Quiet American, set in the French Indochina War of 1856, explores the relationship between British reporter Thomas Fowler and young American Alden Pyle and uses their different views on life and politics as a vehicle to critique American attitudes and foreign policy. Pyle respects and shares the ideas of an American scholar, York Harding, about the 'Third Force ', according to which, foreign lands should not be ruled by either colonialism or communism. The 'Third Force ' seeks to establish democracy in foreign countries. The author of the book aids himself with the concept of the 'Third Force ' to rail against America. With this in mind, The Quiet American can be perceived as an anti-American critique, because Graham…show more content…
Fowler keeps on repeating that Pyle died because of York Harding, saying "They killed him...made a fool of him" (32). One can suppose that Graham Greene is speaking through Fowler in this passage. According to the quote, Pyle sacrifices himself for America 's notion of saving and liberating other countries; therefore, America is to blame for Pyle 's death. Greene illustrates the same idea when Fowler describes American reporters as “noisy, boyish and middle-aged, full of spur cracks against the French, who were, when all was said, fighting this war” (23). Fowler thinks the American reporters ' tendency to relax in bars and brothels is "irritating" (24). Although Pyle differs from these noisy Americans, Greene is still describing Americans in critical terms. By showing Pyle’s indifference when the bombing occurs and when people die, Greene reveals that America is ready to kill Vietnamese if need. This contradicts the core of their ostensible ideology of saving colonies from…show more content…
The relationship of the local Vietnamese woman and Pyle demonstrates this idea. Both Pyle and Fowler seem to neglect Phuong’s interests. Pyle falls in love with Phuong, if one may say so, immediately after dancing with her. The American ideology of helping the poor and oppressed dictates Pyle 's attitudes, because he thinks that as fragile and weak as she is, Phuong needs to be taken care of. He assures himself that his self-serving behaviors are in her best interests, even "at any cost to her." When Fowler challenges Pyle 's relationship and tells him it is not his “way of love”, Pyle instinctively reacts by saying, "I want to protect her” (73). He is misled by his misconceptions about her, and accordingly, about Vietnam. Pyle wants to sate his desire to help others by improving Phuong 's way of life—by showing her how Americans live. He needs no assurance whatsoever that he will succeed in his goal of taking Phuong from Fowler, because American ideology gives him confidence that he will prevail. Graham Greene accentuates this point, because it applies to the general American ideology. Overall, The Quiet American can indeed be considered as a critique of American politics inasmuch as Greene speaks out against them, ridicules them, and advocates sympathy towards other viewpoints, a sympathy the contemporary American worldview was entirely
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