It Is Unwise to Assume We Understand. Discuss.

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'It is unwise to assume we understand’. Discuss. Graham Greene (1955)’s “The Quiet American” and Xavier Herbert (1941)’s ‘Kaijek the Songman’ are stories that involve many mutual understanding between the characters and place. However, what does it mean to understand? What is unwise, or wise? To understand an issue or person is to have absolute knowledge, familiarity with them whereas being wise is the ability to judge a situation accurately and be clever. In this essay, through the characters of “The Quiet American” and ‘Kaijek the Songman’, I will discuss that it can be wise and unwise to assume that we understand. The characters in both of these stories have different levels of understanding of matters, place and each other. Levels of understanding can be high or low, and are determined by the amount of knowledge they have about the issue. How much knowledge they have, decides whether it is wise or unwise to assume they understand fully. In “The Quiet American” by Graham Greene (1955), Pyle is a character who assumes he understands Vietnam. Pyle clearly has a lack of understanding of Vietnam; however his innocence and ignorance caused him to assume he understands Vietnam. Pyle’s innocence can be seen in many parts of the book, for example in page 30, (Greene 1955:30) Pyle was unable to handle the throng of prostitutes, and needed help from Fowler, who rescued him and brought him out of the House of the Five Hundred Girls. This evidently showed Pyle’s sexual innocence. In (Greene 1955:155), despite playing a part in killing so many lives, Pyle still innocently and ignorantly believes that it is all good intentions, and is unaffected by the deaths of so many people. Pyle also has the innocence of a child, as he mistook the engine of a car for a grenade (Greene 1955:9). As a man of that age in a war-torn country, Pyle was unable to differentiate between an
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