The Quiet American

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Part Four, Chapter 1 + Chapter 2, Sections I–II

Summary Part Four, Chapter 1 + Chapter 2, Sections I–II


It is two weeks after Pyle’s death. Fowler sends Phuong to the cinema with her sister and waits for Vigot. When Vigot arrives, Fowler offers him a drink. Vigot notices a York Harding book on Fowler’s shelf and asks him about it. Fowler explains that Pyle took the idea of a Third Force from Harding, which makes him indirectly responsible for Pyle’s death.

Vigot tells Fowler that he knows he saw Pyle the night he died. Vigot explains that the timeline Fowler had given him did not check out and that there was time for him to meet with Pyle. He also informs Fowler that Pyle’s dog had wet cement on its paws, which points to Fowler’s building, where there had been construction that day. After a moment of silence, Fowler gets up and goes into the bedroom. He looks around the room, then goes back out to tell Vigot that he has nothing to say. Before he leaves, Vigot asks Fowler about the film he saw that night. Fowler explains that he had gone to the cinema for a distraction from private worries. After Vigot has left, Fowler wishes that he were brave enough to tell Vigot that he had, in fact, seen Pyle the night he died.

In 2, the narrative returns to the day of the explosion in the Place Garnier. Fowler takes a trishaw to Mr. Chou’s warehouse. He calls on Mr. Heng, who confirms that Pyle and General Thé were behind the bombing. Fowler asks Mr. Heng which American intelligence agency Pyle works for, but Mr. Heng either doesn’t know or won’t say. Despite not knowing Pyle’s connections, Fowler insists that the American must be stopped. He explains that the police are only interested in blaming the communists. Mr. Heng then asks Fowler to invite Pyle for dinner that night at the Vieux Moulin between 8:30 and 9:30. When Fowler inquires why the Vieux Moulin, Mr. Heng tells him that the restaurant is near the Dakow bridge, which is not under French control at night. Fowler is not sure if he wants to cooperate, and Mr. Heng says that he must take a side sooner or later.

Fowler leaves a note at the American Legation asking Pyle to call on him, then goes to the Continental for a drink. He considers warning Pyle of the danger he is in. Fowler goes home to wait for Pyle. Pyle arrives and informs Fowler that he met with General Thé and Fowler is upset that Pyle has not broken off his collaboration with Thé altogether, but Pyle argues that the general is the best hope for shifting the political landscape.

Fowler selects a book from his bookshelf and asks Pyle to join him for dinner at the Vieux Moulin between 9:00 and 9:30. Pyle agrees. Fowler takes the book to the window. He tells Pyle that he’s looking for a passage that he likes, but this is the signal Mr. Heng asked him to use if Pyle agreed to the dinner invitation. Fowler reads a passage, then looks out the window to see that the trishaw driver who was waiting there is gone.

Pyle is in a talkative mood and tells Fowler about his family. Fowler interrupts Pyle to ask if he carries a gun, and Pyle explains that the Legation forbids it. As Pyle continues to talk, Fowler looks out the window and sees a trishaw driver across the street, though he isn’t sure if it’s the same one from earlier. He thinks to himself that Pyle would be safest at the Legation, and he assures himself that Pyle would not attempt to drive through Dakow after dark.