In a surprising way, the request Fowler makes in his letter to Helen recalls the request Pyle made in his plea to Fowler in Phat Diem. When Pyle told Fowler of his love for Phuong in art ne, 4, he acknowledged that he was asking Fowler to do something impossibleto sit back and allow another man to court the woman he loved. At the time, Fowler felt ruffled by Pyle’s audacity. However, when Fowler writes to his estranged wife back home in England, he makes a similarly impossible request. He acknowledges that because of her religion, he had agreed never to seek a divorce. Now, however, he requests that she overlook that agreement. He pleads for her to go against reason, which is on her side, and simply let him have his divorce despite whatever anger or protest she may feel. Although Fowler recognizes the irrationality of his request, at no point does he acknowledge how similar his request is to Pyle’s. This is one irony that remains lost on Fowler.

Phuong’s presence in this chapter seems inconsequential, overshadowed as it is by the tension between Fowler and Pyle. Instead of being an active player, Phuong becomes little more than an object of desire over which these two men are fighting. Her limited proficiency in French and her complete lack of English largely silence her and make her wholly dependent on Fowler for information in this scene. However, Phuong does not seem bothered by her silence or lack of agency, and Fowler satirizes her ignorance. Fowler’s irony is especially clear at the end of the chapter, when she confuses American attractions for British ones, thinking that she will be able to see skyscrapers and the Statue of Liberty in London. Phuong’s silence within the triangular relationship also has more political undertones. The political turmoil in the region involves a competition between communism (the Viet Minh) and colonialism (the French), but the majority of the Vietnamese people have no voice. Like Phuong, Vietnam is the silent object of desire, fought over by external forces. Phuong’s silence may in part be a product of her ignorance, but it also symbolizes her political status as a Vietnamese woman.