Study Guide

The Quiet American Part 1, Chapter 4: Section 2

By Graham Greene

Part 1, Chapter 4: Section 2

  • Pyle unpacks his stuff, explaining how he got there by riding a boat down the river.
  • Fowler is aghast at Pyle's stupidity. He could very easily have been shot by anyone on any side. Or attacked by a knife. Or from a plane in the air.
  • Pyle laughs and gives his reasons for being there. He came to see Fowler. He wants to inform him that he'll be attempting to court Phuong. He'd feel dishonorable approaching her if Fowler had been killed. He's fallen in love with her and wants to let her make the choice between the two men.
  • Oh yes, he's also interested in the city, but doesn't say exactly why.
  • Unlike Pyle, Fowler can't marry Phuong. He's already married, and though he wants a divorce, his wife refuses to give him one.
  • He envies Pyle.
  • The younger man gives his first name, Alden, but Fowler sticks to calling him Pyle.
  • Getting into his sleeping bag, Pyle breathes a sigh of relief and says he's glad his intentions are out in the open. He doesn't feel so bad about them now.
  • Cue the mortars. Pyle asks if it's an attack. Fowler says no.
  • Pyle returns to the subject to Phuong and asks for Fowler's advice, which Fowler is hesitant to give, telling Pyle not to trust him.
  • Pyle says Fowler is straight and, like him, has Phuong's interests at heart.
  • Irritated, Fowler says Pyle can have her interests, he doesn't care about them. He wants only her body in bed with him.
  • Pyle insists that Phuong needs children to be happy and that he wishes Phuong wasn't with Fowler so he wouldn't be in the position of hurting a friend.
  • Both men insist the other doesn't understand Phuong.
  • Unable to sleep with the noises of war, the two of them drink whiskey in silence.