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The Quiet American

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Summary

Part Four, Chapter 2, Section III + Chapter 3

Summary Part Four, Chapter 2, Section III + Chapter 3

Summary

Sometime after Pyle leaves his apartment, Fowler walks to the Majestic theater. On the way, he runs into another correspondent, Wilkins, who asks him if he’s submitted a story about the bombing. Fowler explains that there isn’t much space in newspapers for these kinds of stories. Wilkins reminisces about when journalists had enough time to do more in-depth writing and weren’t rushed by the rapid onslaught of significant events. Wilkins asks if Fowler is free for dinner, and Fowler tells him that he has an engagement at the Vieux Moulin. Wilkins indicates that Bill Granger will be there. The men part ways, and Fowler goes into the cinema. He watches an adventure film featuring a man in tights who rescues a damsel, defeats his enemy, and lives happily ever after. He reflects that no life is as “charmed” as it appears in the cinema.

After the film, Fowler takes a trishaw to the Vieux Moulin, where he asks for a table for one. Granger is there with a large party of Frenchmen. Fowler orders a drink to start, hoping to give Pyle enough time to meet him. He nurses his aperitif for twenty minutes, thinking about what Pyle’s fate will be. He orders dinner just before 9:30, knowing that it is too late for Pyle to come. Granger and his party are making noise and singing songs. Fowler sits over his meal, thinking about Phuong and all that she has suffered.

Granger comes over to Fowler’s table and asks him to come outside. Fowler thinks that Granger wants to fight, but the American, now quite drunk, tells Fowler that he had received a cable from his wife that morning informing him that their son has polio. Granger confesses that the party is to celebrate his son’s birthday, but that he planned it before he heard the news. He also tells Fowler that he cannot fly home because his assistant is away and he must cover events in Hanoi. Fowler offers to cover the story for him, but Granger declines and goes back inside. Fowler gets a trishaw driver to take him home, where he waits for Pyle until midnight before going into the street and finding Phuong. This catches the narrative back up to the events of the novel’s first chapter.

Chapter 3 returns to the present time. Vigot has left Fowler’s apartment, and Phuong has returned from the cinema. Phuong tells Fowler about the film she and her sister saw, which was a historical romance set during the French Revolution. She explains the she and her sister cried, but Granger, who was also there, was drunk and laughing. Fowler explains that Granger was just celebrating that his son is no longer in danger from polio. Fowler asks Phuong if she is happy, and she says yes. She reminds him to open the telegram that came for him.

As Phuong continues to talk about the film, Fowler reads the telegram. It is a note from Helen, informing him that she has filed for a divorce. Fowler reads the telegram to Phuong, who is overjoyed. Fowler sees Pyle’s copy of The Rôle of the West on his bookshelf and asks Phuong if she misses him. She does not respond and instead asks to leave so she can tell her sister the good news. Fowler presses the question, elaborating that she and Pyle had experienced much together and that she had wanted to see skyscrapers. She responds that she wants to see the Cheddar Gorge, which is in Somerset, England. Fowler apologizes to Phuong, but Phuong brushes off his apology and rushes off to go visit her sister.

Alone in his apartment, Fowler thinks of the day he met Pyle at the Continental. He reflects on how his life has improved since Pyle’s death, and he wishes to himself that he could apologize to someone.