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.

Pyle asks Fowler if he would like to spend the whole evening together, as Phuong will be at the cinema. Fowler tells him that he has an engagement at the Majestic theater and won’t be able to meet before 9:00. Pyle agrees to the original plan and leaves for the Legation, explaining to Fowler that he is afraid of getting caught. Fowler tells Pyle that if he gets held up and cannot make dinner, he should come to his apartment after 10:00.


This section of the novel represents a significant turning point in Fowler’s involvement n the novel’s present time, Fowler obstructs justice by lying to Vigot, whereas on the day of Pyle’s death, Fowler colludes with Mr. Heng and sets the assassination in motion. On many occasions in the novel thus far, Fowler has faced challenges to his self-image as a neutral observer. And yet, every time such a challenge has presented itself, he has convinced himself that he can still escape direct involvement. However, the final conversation Fowler has with Vigot begins to dispel this conviction. When Vigot asserts that criminals tend to confess because they want to see themselves without deception, he draws attention to Fowler’s inability to see himself objectively. Vigot knows that Fowler met with Pyle that day, and he has the evidence to prove it. Although Fowler cannot summon the courage to confess to Vigot, his sense of guilt foreshadows the coming revelation of the instrumental role he played in orchestrating the assassination.

Fowler’s sense of guilt saturates his conversation with Vigot. The most dramatic example comes when Vigot spares the life of a fly, brushing it away instead of slapping it, as Fowler himself would have done. This act reminds Fowler of Dominguez, who also literally would never hurt a fly. Vigot’s casual display of compassion has such a powerful effect on Fowler because it represents a sense of empathy that he himself lacks. Fowler feels this way not simply because he knows he would have swatted the fly e feels this way because, when faced with the choice of whether to spare Pyle’s life, he chose not to. Horrified, and weighing the living fly against the dead Pyle, Fowler retreats momentarily to an empty room to calm himself. Importantly, Fowler’s guilt pertains not only to his involvement with Pyle’s death, but also to his obstruction of Vigot’s investigation. In comparing Vigot to a poet whose poem he has carelessly sabotaged, Fowler recognizes that he has interfered in another man’s work. Like an unfinished poem, Vigot’s investigation remains incomplete.

The verses Fowler chooses to read to Pyle come from Arthur Hugh Clough’s poem, “As I Sat At the Café.” The speaker of this poem delights in his wealth and adopts an arrogant tone, looking down on those of lesser means. Like much of Clough’s work, this poem uses humor to address the poet’s despair about social injustice. The poem’s irony makes it an appropriate choice for Fowler, who makes similar use of humor to cover his cynicism and sadness. In context, Fowler’s quotation is both insulting and ominous. Fowler seems to identify Pyle with the poem’s speaker, who does not take full responsibility for the damage he causes. In saying that he can simply pay forthe damage, the speaker devalues the suffering of the he has hit. Likewise, by claiming to have dealt “severely” with General Thé, Pyle atones for the bombing without taking real responsibility for the individuals injured in the explosion. Both Pyle and the speaker appear morally deficient. At the same time that Fowler uses this poem to reprimand Pyle, the act of reading initiates the plan to kill Pyle, making Fowler’s choice

Pyle’s talkativeness during his final conversation with Fowler provides yet another form of foreshadowing, albeit a very subtle one. For one thing, Pyle is not characteristically chatty. Although this could simply indicate a particularly friendly mood, it might also point to a degree of nervousness. Indeed, even though the conversation between the two men seems unusually civil, Pyle’s civility may in fact be motivated by fear and the need for a friend and ally. Pyle himself suggests this when he confesses to Fowler that he feels . For another thing, Pyle’s uncharacteristic gregariousness serves as a reference to the grim joke invoked by the title of the novel: the only quiet American is a dead American. Despite generally being a person, Pyle’s interventions have made a great deal of noise (i.e., the explosion in the Place Garnier). Thus, Pyle’s sudden chattiness symbolizes something that must be silenced.