The Quiet American - Lane: 1 Alex Lane European Empires in...

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Lane: Alex Lane European Empires in Asia: Spring 2010 Dr. Gail Minault April 23, 2010 Graham Greene’s The Quiet American presents a cultural overview of the varying attitudes and opinions surrounding imperialism, particularly in French Vietnam. Through varying characters’ responses and strongly held beliefs Greene shows various differing personalities both within Vietnam and the western world. Through these differing opinions Greene invites the reader to question certain aspects specifically of involvement in Vietnam but also beyond that, to question colonialism in its most basic sense. In this manner Greene entices the reader to question imperialism, the spread of democracy and attempts to contain communism. Reading The Quiet American is a cultural experience with appreciated cynicism. Greene introduces his protagonist, Thomas Fowler, as a cynical British journalist with several years under his belt in Vietnam and even more in other theaters of war. The Quiet American is set during the First Indochina War while the French occupied Vietnam. The British journalist Fowler is apparently neutral in the war and is simply an observer. He prides himself on his neutrality for the majority of the novel until ultimately emotions change his outlook. Greene introduces Fowler as a veteran field journalist who over the years has learned to question both motives and rational beyond imperial beliefs. During his time in Vietnam Fowler made a home for himself by both finding a native girlfriend, Phuong, and assimilating into Vietnamese culture. In one instance Fowler says 1
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Lane: in a conversation “(Fowler:)I’m going back. (Pietri:)Home? Pietri asked, throwing a four- to-one. (Fowler replies): No. England.(68)” i Fowler made Vietnam his home and unlike many other foreigners to the country he focused on the aspects that he did love instead of sulking on those that he did not. Fowler is the realist of the novel who sees things as they are opposed to how they should be. In a sense Fowler is living in the moment and seeing things on the ground instead of reading about ideological differences in some book. It is appropriate in this type of novel to have the cynical realist to put things in check and help
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This note was uploaded on 06/15/2011 for the course HIS 340R taught by Professor Minault during the Fall '10 term at University of Texas at Austin.

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The Quiet American - Lane: 1 Alex Lane European Empires in...

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