Study Guide

The Quiet American Part 1, Chapter 4: Section 1

By Graham Greene

Part 1, Chapter 4: Section 1

  • Fowler has made it up to the devastation at Phat Diem, a once thriving city he knew well before it came to ruin.
  • Lieutenant Peraud, a freemason, explains that Vietminh agents had attacked while everyone—bishop, colonel, and much of the population—were distracted by the procession in the city in honor of Our Lady of Fatima, a well-known vision of the Virgin Mary.
  • Peraud takes the attack as a judgment on his fellows' superstition.
  • A priest is there in the Cathedral bell tower with Fowler. He's taking a break from all the poor people now packed in the Cathedral precincts. Apparently the priest is all they have for a surgeon.
  • Fowler leaves the safety of the Cathedral monastery and joins up with a troop of soldiers. They don't suspect him, a fellow European, of being an enemy.
  • They come upon a canal full of bodies and no blood. Civilians caught in the crossfire, Fowler imagines.
  • They cross the canal, doing their best not to get caught in the mess of corpses.
  • On the other side, shots are fired, Fowler prepares for death, but nothing happens.
  • Moving ahead, they come upon those shot. Two civilians. A mother and a small boy.
  • Fowler thinks about how much he hates war.
  • He spends a cold night in the officers' quarters. They give him a gun to keep on his pillow. They expect to be attacked. Mortar-fire will begin at 3:30.
  • Falling asleep, he dreams of Pyle dancing by himself. When he awakes, Pyle is there.
  • It's three in the morning.