TQA - Porterfield 1 Chris Porterfield Professor Gail...

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Porterfield 1 Chris Porterfield Professor Gail Minault European Empires in Asia 23 April 2010 The Quiet American The Quiet American, a novel by author Graham Greene, invites readers into French Vietnam as it was in the years just after World War II and just before America's own Vietnam War, sometime toward the later end of the First Indochina War. Within its text is a depiction of the sometimes harmonious, sometimes chaotic interactions between the Vietnamese, whose desire seems to be either to secure their own nation or to simply capitalize off of Europeans, and the English, the French, and the Americans, each of whom had their own political goals in the region. Oddly prophetic for the time of its release in terms of America's ultimate involvement in the politics of the region, the novel confronts its audience with a number of questions regarding whether or not one can justify not just European colonialism, but any degree of coercive political involvement in a foreign region at all. The events of the novel are viewed through the eyes of a middle-aged Englishman by the name of Thomas Fowler, stationed in the area as a journalist to report on the French war effort against the growing Vietminh nationalist movement. One gets the impression from the whole of Fowler's behavior, from his choices of words in speech, to his internal monologues, to his endlessly cynical demeanor, that he has seen much of the world in his lifetime, and that he has grown tired of it all. As a journalist, he prides himself on reporting the news in the most objective, neutral fashion, a trait which carries over into his general belief system to the extent
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Porterfield 2 that he is atheist, apolitical, and at times without emotion. In spite of his occasional unfriendliness, the reader is inclined to respect Fowler, as he exhibits at all times a worldly, self- educated sort of intelligence, not to mention a caustic wit. Fowler offers a unique perspective within the context of the novel, as he seems to be the only European averse to returning to Europe. His attitude toward his state of affairs in Vietnam is encapsulated perfectly within a brief exchange between him and a gambling partner. After discovering he has been issued a summons back to England for his job, he announces, “I'm going back,” and when his partner asks if he is going home, Fowler replies, “No. England” (68). His response arises not so much out of a sentimentality he has gained for Vietnam or its culture, but from simple comfort with his current life. He is more than content to remain in his room with
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TQA - Porterfield 1 Chris Porterfield Professor Gail...

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