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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.
The adventure film that Fowler sees at the Majestic offers a romanticized view of life that reminds Fowler of what he dislikes about Pyle. The Hollywood production presents a view of life where adventure seems fun and the sun always sets on peril, allowing the heroes to Fowler loathes this kind of film because of its idealized and hence oversimplified representation of the real world. In the film world, life is “charmed.” Hollywood heroes survive by luck hey rarely succumb to tragic ends. In Fowler’s estimation, these notions of charm and luck make Hollywood films not just overly romantic, but artistically immature. Fowler the Hollywood adventure genre the Greek myth of Oedipus. Oedipus attempts to thwart a prophecy that he will kill his father and marry his mother. In the end, however, he unwittingly fulfills the prophecy, demonstrating the tragic truth that luck cannot help one to escape fate. Considering that Pyle’s fate is already sealed and that his luck will run out soon, the comparison Fowler draws between Pyle and Oedipus proves apt.
While he waits for Pyle at the Vieux Moulin, Fowler realizes fully and for the first time the extent to which he has betrayed his journalistic principle of disengagement. As he reflects on the pain that Phuong will experience following Pyle’s death, Fowler comes to see that his involvement with the plot against Pyle has blinded him to her suffering. When Fowler reflects that he has valued Phuong less than those injured in the explosion in the square, he is reprimanding himself for privileging a journalistic perspective over a human one. Fowler felt deeply angered by the bombing because of how many people it affected, and his anger drove him to action and intervention. In this moment, however, Fowler reminds himself that the concern about the number of victims cannot be made equal to the qualitative experience of a single individual. Statistics cannot capture the complexity and fullness of human experience. In forgetting this truth, Fowler has become .
Following his encounter with Bill Granger at the Vieux Moulin, Fowler realizes that he has misjudged the American journalist. The only other encounters that Fowler has had with Granger have been on the night when Fowler and Phuong first dined with Pyle (art , 3) and during a press conference in Hanoi (one, 5). Fowler looked down on Granger for his loud drunkenness and his pushiness during these respective encounters, and he dismissed Granger as another typical American. As Fowler enters the Vieux Moulin, Granger appears to be in a similar state: drunk and singing brashly. Once again, Fowler dismisses the American. However, when Granger comes over to speak with Fowler, confessing that his son was just diagnosed with polio, and on the boy’s birthday no less, Fowler realizes that he has misjudged Granger. He saw nothing but an obnoxious American where there was in fact a man with his own complex struggles. In another moment of clear-sighted self-reflection, Fowler concludes that, like Pyle, his assumptions about the world have kept him from seeing people as individuals with their own lives and suffering.
In the novel’s final chapter, things return to normal between Fowler and Phuong, but Fowler’s outlook has altered profoundly. The dynamic between the two appears loving and familiar, just as it was before Pyle entered their lives. And once again, Fowler presents Phuong as being simpleminded. For instance, in contrast to Fowler’s disgust at the shallowness of the Hollywood films, Phuong’s account of the film she saw with her sister shows that she is susceptible to the romance of the cinema. What has changed, however, is Fowler’s guilt. Fowler’s prospects have completely turned around, and he feels guilty for personally benefitting from Pyle’s death. When Fowler presses Phuong to say whether or not she misses Pyle, it seems like he wants her to miss him. Her pain would legitimize his conflicted feelings about his involvement in Pyle’s assassination. But with Helen promising a divorce, Phuong has gotten what she wanted after all: to marry Fowler and move to England. She, too, has benefitted from Pyle’s death. With no consequences for his actions in sight, Fowler ends the novel in a state of unabsolved and, indeed, unabsolvable remorse.