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The Quiet American

  • Study Guide
Characters

Phuong

Characters Phuong

Phuong is a beautiful young Vietnamese woman who became Fowler’s live-in mistress soon after he arrived in Saigon. Frequently mistaken for a prostitute, Phuong is a rather vain and shallow character. She loves going out for milkshakes, shopping for scarves, going to the cinema, and paging through picture books and gossip rags about British royalty. Phuong’s manipulative sister, Miss Hei, influences all of her decisions, which leaves seeming simple-minded, childish, and complacent. Phuong is attracted to Fowler primarily because he offers her financial security and protection, but he cannot marry her because of his wife in England. When she eventually shifts her affections to Pyle, she does so because he can offer greater security through marriage. At no point does Phuong seem capable of expressing complex emotions or feelings, though this could be due to her limited proficiency in French and her complete lack of English. Regardless, Phuong often appears to be an agent of the plot more than a fully developed character.