The Quiet American

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Summary

Part Three, Chapter 1, Sections I–II

Summary Part Three, Chapter 1, Sections I–II

Summary

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.