The Quiet American - Love and War

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The story is set during the First Indochina War where much of the interaction focusses on three main characters that are in a love triangle. Fowler is a war correspondent and Pyle is a young American working for the Economic Aid Mission, who both take an interest in Phuong, a local Vietnamese woman. Love and war are the two main themes of the story, both viewed very differently by Fowler and Pyle. From the start of the story, we see that Fowler’s attitude towards Phuong is very different to that of Pyle’s. Fowler and Phuong’s relationship is very sex orientated and very much a case of satisfying their individual interests rather than sharing a common bond or true love. They never enter into any deep conversation and in fact Phuong appears to understand very little of what is said or happening around her. Pyle’s concerns lie more in Phuong’s wellbeing more than anything else. It is evident that Pyle is young and naïve, and inexperienced with women. Fowler makes a point to Pyle about his attitude towards her interests and even tells Pyle he’d “rather ruin her and sleep with her, than… look after her damn interests.” Fowler is searching for someone simply to combat the loneliness he often describes to the reader. Pyle looks to Phuong to be a long-time partner and wants to start a family with her. However, Pyle insists that “she can’t be (happy) – not in her situation” and claims “she needs children”. Whether he’s right or not on that point, he just wants what he thinks is best for Phuong. Pyle actually cares about her interests, which is ironic, as Fowler has the ability to actually communicate and speak to Phuong whereas Pyle speaks very little French and can’t actually hold a conversation with her. Although this is the case, Fowler still admits that he “had never known a man who had better motives for all the trouble he was causing” which tells the reader that
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