Titel: The Quiet American
Auteur: Graham Greene
Jaar van 1e publicatie: 1955
Aantal bladzijden: 191
De samenvatting van het verhaal
Fowler is a British reporter living in Saigon during the French-Indochina-war. He is involved in the events round the death of an American diplomat because the mistress of the diplomat lived with Fowler for a long time and Fowler was a friend of the diplomat (Pyle).
1/1 Fowler waits for Pyle, together with Phuong, his former mistress, who is now Pyle's girl friend and wife-to-be. They smoke opium, until the police arrives and they are interrogated at the police office by Vigot. Fowler identifies the corps. Pyle, the diplomat is wounded in the chest, but the real cause of death is mud in his lungs. Fowler tells the bad news to Phuong afterwards, who decides to stay with Fowler again.
1/3 The first meeting between Pyle and Phuong, together with other people at the continental bar, where war events in the north are discussed. Afterwards the house of the 500 girls is visited. Pyle dances with Phuong and starts to love her. The innocent Pyle suggests leaving the house before the evening starts getting rude.
1/4 The war scene near Phat Diem is described: a church full of refugees, a walk with 12 combatants. Fowler is present when they meet a lot of dead bodies in a canal. When Fowler wants to sleep in the office quarter, Pyle appears, he has followed Fowler all alone despite all dangers, to tell him he is in love with Phuong. He wants to marry her and get children. Fowler can't marry Phuong because his wife refuses to divorce (she's Roman-Catholic).
1/5 Pyle succeeds in finding air transport to Saigon via Hanoi. In Hanoi Pyle has left a letter to Fowler, thanking Fowler that he has been reasonable, remaining friends and promising not to see Phuong before Fowler is back.
Fowler is on his way for three weeks. He attends several events e.g. a press conference of a French officer, admitting he needs more helicopters to take care of wounded people. Pyle also receives a telegram in Hanoi that he has to leave Vietnam in a couple of months.
2/1 Fowler doesn't tell Phuong about his departure, he reflects on Pyle's activities in Saigon; rumours say Pyle is there to work with a "third force". Pyle asks his newspaper to be allowed to stay in Saigon. Thomas Fowler and Alden Pyle meet again. Pyle has brought his dog, and Thomas doesn't like it. They discuss Phuong again. Fowler tells Phuong about his coming departure, Phuong wants to join him. However she doesn't even know the difference between the USA and the UK and Fowler starts thinking: what does she really want.
2/2 Eighty kilometres North of Saigon Pyle and Fowler happen to meet again. As Pyle's Buick doesn't drive, he joins Fowler. Due to a lack of petrol (apparently stolen) they get stuck near a watchtower, that is guarded by two young Vietnamese soldiers during the night. The Vietminh arrives, summons the two Westerns to come out. Fowler and Pyle happen to escape via the water in the rice fields. Fowler breaks his leg during a jump from the watchtower; Pyle saves his life by carrying him away. After a stay in hospital, Fowler returns home where Phuong takes care of him. His wife has sent a letter to answer his divorce request, saying "no". Fowler lies to Phuong and Pyle that a divorce procedure has started (later on Phuong's sister, who can read and speak English discovers the truth). Via Dominguez, a Vietnamese friend and helper, Fowler visits Chou and Heng who show him drums with diolacton and a mould for bicycle-pumplike objects. Pyle comes along to Fowlers house to tell him he wants to marry Phuong, but he is sent away by Fowler.
3/1 Vigot, the policeman, meets Fowler two weeks after Pyle's death: Pyle's dog has been found. Prior to Pyle's death: Phuong is apparently seeing Pyle a lot of times. As Fowler is out in the street a number of bicyclettes explode: supposed to be a demonstration of the power of general Thé, the leader of the "third force". Fowler realises that Pyle is funding and supporting these activities by supplying money and plastic bombing material. He thinks it is too dangerous to do that. In Mr Muoi's garage he finds a press to produce the "pump parts" that caused the explosions. When he was at home Fowler discovers Phuong has gone. He discusses Pyle's behaviour at the American legation, but Pyle isn't present. Fowler goes to the north, joining a bombing command doing dive-bombing. It makes clear how cruel this is; the captain realises this as well. He hates doing it. After the raid they smoke opium and visit a whorehouse.
3/2 Coming home to Saigon, the lonely Fowler meets Pyle in his apartment. There is a letter from Fowler's employer saying that he may stay another year in Saigon. Pyle hasn't married Phuong yet, he wants to do that "the American way": at home with parents and family present. Fowler and Pyle remain friends and discuss the war. Fowler warns Pyle not to trust general Thé. Fowler looks for a new flat. After visiting one he observes a cruel plastic bombing accident in the street. Later Pyle admits he (together with general Thé) did it. Pyle explains that it was meant to upset a parade with officers. The parade appeared to be cancelled; innocent civilians have now been killed. Phuong has been warned by Pyle to stay out of the region so she hasn't been hurt.
4/2 What did happen actually? Fowler and Heng have met: Fowler tells Heng that Pyle's behaviour is getting too dangerous, he should be stopped. Then Heng and Fowler made a plan. The plan was carried out: Fowler made an appointment with Pyle to have dinner at the Vieux Moulin. Pyle didn't come to the Vieux Moulin. On his way to this restaurant Pyle was killed by Heng's people.
4/3 Fowler comes home, a telegram from his wife tells that she suddenly changed her mind, as Fowler had asked and accepts a divorce. Phuong is very glad and runs to her sister to tell the news.
Een gekozen interessante pagina uit het boek
Ik heb gekozen voor pagina 53 uit het boek. Op deze pagina gaat de ik-persoon samen met een groep soldaten op een verkenningsmissie rond een stad. De Franse soldaten liggen op dat moment onder vuur van de Vietminh. Het mooie aan dit gedeelte is de spanning. De spanning van soldaten die, niet wetende wat er komen gaat, hun taak proberen uit te voeren. De ik-persoon probeert zich voor te bereiden op een mogelijke dood. "Two shots were fired to our front, and I thought, "This is it. Now it comes" It was all the warning I wanted. I awaited, with a sense of exhilaration, the permanent thing. But nothing happened. Once again I had 'over-prepared the event'. In deze zinnen voel je de spanning, de angst die de Fowler heeft. Dat is het sterke van deze bladzijde. Iets wat ook heel opmerkelijk is het volgende. In dit gedeelte worden er twee burgers neergeschoten, de soldaten gaan kijken en komen tot de conclusie dat de twee burgers een vrouw en een kind zijn. Bij de lijken aangekomen zegt de Franse luitenant dan heel erg cynisch "Mal chance", iets wat zo ongeveer betekent als "Pech gehad". Dit brengt ook in beeld hoe hard mensen kunnen worden door oorlog, iets wat ook sterk wordt verteld in dit gedeelte. Het mooie is dus niet alleen dat het stuk spanning naar voren brengt, maar ook de zinloosheid van oorlog. Of, zoals de hoofdpersoon Fowler zo mooi aan het eind van de bladzijde zegt:
"I hate war".
The Nine (:P) Questions
Verklaar de titel?
1. The title of the book is "The Quiet American". One of the main characters in the book, the American Pyle, is a quiet person. He doesn't talk too much. It also reflects on how much 'shadow' there is around Pyle.
Wat voor soort verhaal is het?
2. The story is a novel. It is quite psychological (thoughts play a big part in the book) and it also has some aspects of a love story. There is some action in it (when the author describes the war-scene in Vietnam) as well.
Wie waren de hoofdpersonen?
3. The main characters are:
A British reporter, who has left his wife and now is living in Vietnam with a Vietnamese woman. He tries to report about the war without any personal involvement. Thomas is a little self-centred. He thinks a lot about things. Pyle is a friend of Fowler, however at the end Fowler is indirectly responsible for his death. Phuong is Fowler's mistress, but he wants and promised her to marry her.
Pyle is an US-diplomat. He is getting involved in the French colonial war without enough understanding what he is doing. Pyle is very honest and fair to everybody. Pyle is very naïve. He really loves Phuong. Pyle thinks of Fowler as a friend, but he also thinks Fowler is angry with him, because he robbed him of his mistress.
An obedient Vietnamese woman, who is searching for security of marriage and the happiness of bearing children. The word love means security for Phuong. So she left Fowler for Pyle, because Pyle could marry her. Phuong doesn't do what she wants to do, she a sort of slave of her husband/boyfriend.
A French police officer who has to solve the murder of Pyle. Vigot never suspects Fowler, but he things Fowler quite possibly could be involved.
All characters remain almost the same during the story. Though at the end Fowler "betrays" his friend Pyle, who had saved Fowler's life some time ago.
Wat is het thema?
4. It is quite complicated to find the theme of this book. Anyway, the theme is love(problems)-; love between Fowler and Phuong, and love between Pyle and Phuong.
Wanneer speelt het verhaal zich af?
5.The story is set in the early fifties, during the French colonial war in Vietnam. Fowler lives in a city called Phat Diem in Vietnam.
6. The work is divided into several parts. There are 4 parts. Each part contains 2, 3, 4, or 5 chapters. In part 1, chapter 1 the main character Fowler has to identify Pyle's dead body. The chapters after chapter 1 are flashbacks. Memories of Fowler. The whole book is divided in flashbacks of Fowler about Pyle and in things that happen now. Therefore is quite hard to follow the story. You have to be very concentrated when you read this book, because you can't follow the story otherwise.
Is het chronologisch verteld?
7. The story is not told in a chronological order. There are a lot of flashbacks. The book has a closed ending: Pyle is dead, and Fowler can marry Phuong.
Vanuit welke persoon is het verteld?
8. The 1st-person is the narrator of the story. The told is told through Fowler's eyes. The language used in the book is important for the sphere. There are short, reporter-like, sentences in the story. This probably something to do with the fact that Fowler is a reporter.
Vertel wat over de auteur:
9. The author of "The Quiet American" is Graham Greene (1904-1991). Graham was born in Berkhamsted, Hertfordshire as the fourth child of six children. The young Graham was very interested in reading books. His first novel was "Babbling April" in 1925. After taking a job as a sub-editor at "The Times" in London, Greene married Vivian Dayrell-Browning in 1927. During this period he wrote "The Man Within". This book was quite a success and it led to a difficult decision for Greene: leave his job at "The Times" and become a self-employed writer. His next two novels were complete failures. The audience didn't like "The Name of the Action" and "Rumour and Nightfall". From this moment on Greene wrote 'entertainment novels' alongside with 'serious novels'. After his visiting Mexico in 1938 Greene wrote a book in which Greene expressed his horror of the Catholic persecution. The title of this novel was "The Power and the Glory". Though the Catholic Church condemned this book, it was mainly known as the best novel of his career. During W II Greene worked for the Secret Intelligence Service in Sierra Leone and after the war Greene searched out the world's "trouble-spots" to live in. He was in Vietnam during the Indochina war (where he wrote "The Quiet American in 1956), in Kenya during the Mau Mau outbreak and in Castro's Cuba. Greene was not only known of his books, he also achieved notoriety in his personal life. He had a lot extra-marital affairs and he lived very comfortably in London. In the last part of his life Greene lived in Vevey, Switzerland with his companion Yvonne Cloetta (Greene left his wife in 1948, though they never divorced). Graham Greene died on April 3, 1991.