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Two weeks after Pyle’s death, Fowler encounters Vigot at a restaurant, Le Club. Vigot informs Fowler that the police found Pyle’s dog with its throat cut, fifty yards away from his owner’s body. Vigot beats Fowler in several rounds of 421, and Fowler asks the Frenchman if he plays other games of chance. Quoting Blaise Pascal, Vigot responds that he plays the biggest game of all: “If you gain, you gain all; if you lose you lose nothing.” Fowler quotes Pascal back at Vigot, reciting that the “true course is not to wager at all Vigot retorts that one does not choose whether or not to make a wager. He then insists that Fowler is just asas everyone else. Fowler asks why Vigot but the officer does not reply. Instead, he asks to call on Fowler later that night.
In the second section of 1, the narrative returns to the time just after Pyle came to Fowler’s apartment to confront him about his deceitful letter. For weeks after Pyle’s visit, Fowler agonizes over the possibility of losing Phuong. Whenever she returns to the apartment, he asks her where she has been. She tells him, often producing physical evidence as proof of her word. During this time, Fowler also becomes preoccupied with insulting everything about the United States, including American literature, politics, and society.
When Fowler returns home one evening, he finds a note from Dominguez. The note contains a request, on behalf of Mr. Chou, that Fowler be at the big store on the corner of Boulevard Charner at 10:30 the following morning. The next day, Fowler makes his way to the specified location and waits. A truck full of policemen drive up to the store and remove three bicycles from among the many that surround the property. The police take the bicycles and throw them into a decorative fountain. Mr. Heng arrives at this point, just before the fountain explodes, sending glass and water everywhere. After the explosion, Mr. Heng leads Fowler to his own bicycle and directs his attention to his bicycle pump, asking if it reminds him of anything. Fowler doesn’t understand the implication until later, when he realizes that the mold Mr. Heng had shown him in Mr. Chou’s warehouse had resembled a bicycle pump.
The bicycle bombing was not an isolated incident; there were simultaneous explosions at other sites in Saigon. In the aftermath, most foreign correspondents connect these events to the communists. Using Mr. Heng’s intelligence, however, Fowler connects the incidents to General Thé, but the editors at his office alter his account. Fowler thinks to himself that as long as Pyle is playing “harmlessly” with plastic molds, he will keep away from Phuong.
Fowler pays a visit to Mr. Muoi’s garage. He thinks about the location of the garage, about how exposed it is and how everyone who lives in the area must know about its goings-on. Despite this transparency, however, outsiders like him have no way to that world and learn what its inhabitants know. Fowler finds the garage empty. He goes into the office and notices a door on the back wall with the key still in the lock. The door leads to a small shed that houses a piece of machinery. Fowler examines the old machine, which he determines is a French-made press. Upon closer inspection, he notices white powder dusted on the machine. He wonders if it is Diolaction, though there is no sign of the drum or of any molds. Fowler goes back through the office and into the garage, imagining that Mr. Muoi and his assistants have fled to the rice fields on their way back to General Thé. He calls out Mr. Muoi’s name, but no one replies.
Fowler walks back to his apartment. Phuong is not at home, though she left a note explaining that she went to her sister’s. Fowler lays down for a nap, and when he wakes up, Phuong is still absent. He opens her drawer and finds that her scarves are gone, as is her picture book of the royal family. He realizes that she has left him. He tries to calm his shock by recalling unhappy memories and reminding himself that he has been through this before.
When Vigot quotes the work of the French philosopher and mathematician Blaise Pascal, he does so to challenge Fowler’s belief that he can remain a fully disengaged observer. During their game of 421, Vigot invokes a famous passage outlines what has since become known as “Pascal’s Wager.” Pascal’s Wager states that every person makes a wager with his or her life as to whether or not God exists. Since human reason cannot prove God’s existence or nonexistence, both belief and disbelief are a gamble. The stakes of this gamble, however, are high. Vigot quotes: “If you gain, you gain all; if you lose, you lose nothing The point of Pascal’s thought experiment is that human actions have significant consequences, and yet humans do not have the capacity to understand these consequences fully. When Fowler attempts to subvert this conundrum, stating that the best action is not to wager at all, he misses the point Vigot is trying to make. That is, he fails to understand that no one can escape making this wager. In this sense, engagement is inevitable.
Fowler’s visit to Mr. Muoi’s garage proves significant not because of what he discovers there about the construction of the bicycle bombs, but because of how the experience further degrades his estimation of Pyle. This degradation happens very subtly during the scene in the empty office, and it relates to Pyle’s favored theory that a Third Force is necessary to destabilize the regional conflict between communism and colonialism. Fowler has rejected this theory before on the basis that it is grounded in abstract ideas rather than concrete facts. Here, Fowler constructs an alternative understanding of the Third Force, one that, surprisingly, he bases on the mess of objects that he finds strewn across the desk. In contrast to Pyle’s Fowler indicates that this incongruous jumble more aptly represents the real state of affairs Fowler’s revision of the Third Force concept is powerful because it emphasizes that nothing in real life is as pure or straightforward as it seems when presented as an oversimplified abstraction. Instead of a unified force like Pyle’s Fowler posits a meaningless hodgepodge of things, neither harmonious nor internally contradictory, and thus far more complex.
Fowler’s visit to Mr. Muoi’s garage also amplifies the Englishman’s sense of being an outsider. This sense becomes particularly acute when he considers all of the local people who live and work on the same street and who must know about the goings-on in Mr. Muoi’s garage. As Fowler recognizes, however, accessing what these individuals know would prove impossible for the colonial police, as they would never be able to gain their trust or enter their social circles. Fowler connects this example to the group of Vietnamese women who frequently sit on the landing in front of his apartment, where they observe the activities of the rue Catinat and gossip secretively. These reflections remind Fowler that, even in his adopted country, he remains an outsider. Given that his disdain for England leads him to feel like an outside in his home country as well, this suggests that Fowler lives in a kind of permanent exile, never quite at home.
Fowler’s growing sense of his own status impinges on his relationship with Phuong, and the way he treats her and thinks about her demonstrates once again that she is less of a character and more of a stand-in for foreign men’s emotional baggage. he would have to return to England and his wife. Fowler . In the weeks following their conflict over Fowler’s lies about Helen’s letter, Fowler admits to feeling as if Phuong . Here, Pyle becomes a target for Fowler’s hatred of America and everything it stands for.