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.