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The Quiet American

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Summary

Part Three, Chapter 2

Summary Part Three, Chapter 2

Summary

Fowler returns to his apartment in Saigon and finds Pyle waiting for him there. Pyle explains that Dominguez had let him in when he was delivering mail. Fowler opens a letter from his office. His superiors write that they have considered his request to remain a correspondent in Vietnam and that they agree with him e is to remain for at least one more year before returning to London to assume the position of foreign editor. Pyle asks if he’s received bad news. Fowler says no and changes the subject, asking Pyle if he and Phuong have married. Pyle explains that he hopes to get married back home, where Phuong can officially become part of the family. Fowler wonders whether or not Phuong’s dreams of skyscrapers and the Statue of Liberty will come to pass.

Fowler tells Pyle to be gentle with Phuong. Pyle is surprised at Fowler’s calm acceptance. Fowler himself is surprised at how their conversation is going, and he wonders if somewhere in his subconscious he has judged himself less worthy than Pyle. The two men shake hands, and Pyle departs. From the top of the stairs, Fowler tells Pyle not to trust too much in York Harding, insisting that General Thé is a just a bandit who will not save the East from communism. Pyle exclaims that he doesn’t know what Fowler means, but Fowler pushes on, telling him to forget the Third Force, leave with Phuong, and not return.

Some weeks later, Fowler goes to look at an apartment at the other end of the rue Catinat. The apartment belongs to a rubber planter who plans to return to France and wishes to sell his quarters along with his collection of engravings from the Paris Salon. Fowler finds the man’s tastes old fashioned and leaves without making a deal.

Fowler leaves the apartment around 11:30 a.m. and walks to the Pavilion for a beer. That way he can avoid Phuong, who at that time of day would be at the milk bar. He sees two young American women eating ice cream, and he overhears one telling the other that a man named Warren cautioned them not to stay past 11:25 a.m. The women don’t know what is supposed to happen, though one proposes that it could be a demonstration.

In that moment, there is an explosion. The walls of the Pavilion blast inward, throwing a Frenchwoman to the ground. His hearing impaired, Fowler leaves the Pavilion and makes his way to the Place Garnier. When he arrives, he sees smoke and wreckage, including scattered car parts and a man whose legs have been blown off. Fowler can’t find his press credentials, and the police won’t let him through. He asks the officer what happened to the milk bar, but he does not know.

Pyle arrives on the scene and assures Fowler that Phuong is safe, as he warned her not to go to the milk bar that morning. It takes a moment for Fowler to register what Pyle says, and then he connects Pyle’s warning to the warning that the young American women had spoken of. Fowler becomes upset and pushes Pyle into the square when the policeman is not looking.