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Meets the Last Monday of each month at 7 p.m.
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Quiet American

quiet american book club

The Quiet American, August 26, 2019 7PM

The Quiet American is a novel by Graham Greene that is set in Vietnam in the early 1950s. The story takes place in the midst of the conflict between the Viet Minh and the South Vietnamese, who are supported by the French. The novel is narrated by the protagonist, Thomas Fowler, a British war journalist who has been living in Saigon for an extended period of time. He refuses to engage in the conflict or to form opinions - he instead prefers to simply report the facts. Fowler frequently disagrees with a young American named Alden Pyle, who works for the Economic Aid Mission. The novel begins with Pyle's death, but the circumstances of his murder are unknown until the novel's final chapter. Vigot, a French policeman, initially suspects Fowler in Pyle's demise, but he adamantly denies the charge. From there, the novel goes into a series of flashbacks that illustrate the erratic history between Pyle and Fowler. Soon after Pyle's arrival in Saigon, he falls in love with Phuong, Fowler's Vietnamese lover. Pyle decides that he wants to woo Phuong away from Fowler, who cannot marry her because he has a wife at home in London. Their love triangle has many twists and turns, but the climax of the novel occurs when Fowler finds out that Pyle is involved in deadly espionage with the hopes of establishing the guerrilla General Thé as an American-backed Third Force in the war. Pyle believes that the death of Vietnamese civilians is necessary to further the cause of "democracy," but Fowler is disgusted by Pyle's overly simplified point of view. The narrative unfolds in a non-linear fashion, allowing Greene to build up the suspense surrounding the question that forms the novel's core: Did Thomas Fowler have anything to do with the death of Alden Pyle? In the final chapter of The Quiet American, Fowler finally reveals - to the reader, not to any of the other characters - that he assisted a Communist leader in assassinating Pyle after finding out that Pyle was involved in the bombing of a public square.

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