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The Quiet American
‘Fowler’s decision that Pyle must die is driven by jealousy rather than a sense of justice.’
Thomas Fowler is an arrogant, middle aged, cynical journalist who enjoys his opium and grows attached to Vietnam. He is a man who claims to be detached from the events around him and is only concerned for his own immediate interests. He also likes to live on the edge of danger. Alden Pyle is an innocent, naïve imposter who poses as a member of the ‘Economic Mission.’ He is also known as the Quiet American and represents the civilized democracy, who known to be capable of unleashing devastation. It could be seen that Fowler grew quite jealous of Pyle through various events in the novel. This makes certain that Fowler’s decision that Pyle must die, is driven by jealousy, rather than a sense of justice.
Fowler’s world is slowly engulfed by jealousy which starts at the Chalet nightclub. Pyle dances with Phuong, as Fowler watches from a distance and reflects on his frustration at being unable to offer marriage and financial security to Phuong. Fowler grows unhappy by the unpleasant relationship he has with Miss. Hei (Phuong’s sister), where she makes clear to him that he is an unsuitable partner for Phuong. Fowler is made even more miserable as Miss. Hei believes that Pyle is a more suitable partner for Phuong, as he can provide the security and wealth for a stable marriage. She also indicates that she wishes to meet up with Pyle and Phuong again as she sees him as a solution out of corruption. This is where Fowler begins to feel insecure and worried about his relationship with Phuong and the happiness that they have together. He also feels a sense of jealousy, but dismisses it and leaves from what he saw as unsuitable entertainment.
On the way back to Saigon after the Caodist festival, Fowler’s sarcastic responses to Pyle’s enquiries about Phuong reveal the Englishman’s continuing anxiety about losing Phuong, but this is soon swept aside by the necessity to deal with the crisis of the vehicle break down in hostile territory. As they escape the blown up tower, Fowler complains to his rescuer, in a fit of fury, that he does not want Pyle to determine the way he will die. He complains about Pyle because he feels helpless, lost, confused and jealous. He thought that he was the leader and had full control, until he hurt his left leg and required help from Pyle in order to survive. Fowler is jealous of Pyle for saving him as he feels useless and hopeless.
On returning back to Saigon, he finds that Phuong has left him for Pyle and finds himself crying helplessly. Fowler is quite jealous, as Phuong has left him for Pyle. He is also furthermore upset because when he takes his opium, he feels like something has left him which felt out of place. He then quits his job and leaves in search for Phuong. When the Place Garnier bomb explodes and Fowler worries frantically about Phuong’s whereabouts, he is relieved to find out she has been warned but quite shocked to find out that Pyle was behind it all. Fowler is not happy and is angry at Pyle for lying about his occupation, but also for hurting the people of Vietnam. A sense of justice is enraged within Fowler but is overcome by jealousy as Phuong is still with Pyle. It is here that Fowler thinks, something should be done which is the culminating moment in his progression from a reporter to a contributor. Pyle is murdered, as Fowler is able to resume his relationship with Phuong.
Justice and jealousy were the two main reasons why Fowler arranged for Pyle’s assassination. The sense of justice came during the Place Garnier bombings where Pyle killed many Vietnamese people. Phuong’s life was in great danger, but luckily she was warned before it occurred. Fowler treasures Saigon as his home and is angry at Pyle for killing many innocent Vietnamese people. He is also angry because Phuong’s life was also in danger. However, the justice is weaved in with jealousy, which is the major reason why Fowler decided that Pyle must
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The Quiet American, Pyle, Fowler, Jealousy
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