English 321 – American Masterpieces
Grant T. Smith, Ph. D.
The Quiet American – Discussion Questions
(from Marta Salij, Free Press and the Penn Reading Project)
isn't fancy literary criticism to notice that Fowler stands in for the
was another subject of his -- he had pronounced and aggravating views on what
3. "Perhaps that's why men have invented God -- a being capable of understanding," says Fowler. What does Fowler think understanding requires? What about Pyle? How much does a nation have to understand another to be able to help?
saves Fowler's life when they are ambushed, which angers Fowler to no end
because he doesn't want to be beholden to Pyle. The scene is intended to remind
readers of World War II, among other things. How much of Fowler's anger at Pyle
is a symptom of
it possible that Fowler remains neutral in the Vietnam/French relationship? Is
ever possible not to take a side?
7. How does Pyle justify his own deception, yet scorn Fowler for misleading Phuong? Is it possible to distinguish between the two lies?
8. Why does Greene go to such lengths to portray Pyle as innocent yet deceived?
says of Pyle and the priest, "You can't blame the innocent, they are
always guiltless" but later asks, "How many dead colonels justify a
child's or a trishaw driver's death?" (163). How does Fowler distinguish between the army's spreading of democracy and the priest's propagation of religion?
10. What did you learn from the film, The Quiet American that you didn’t note in the written text? How did the film enhance or detract from your understanding of Graham’s work?
11. We see again in this novel another love triangle: Fowler, Pyle, and Phuong. How does this love triangle compare to what we discussed in Shane?
12. The United
States in now involved in a long-term military and economic commitment to