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The Quiet American

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Summary

Part Two, Chapter 2, Section IV + Chapter 3, Section I

Summary Part Two, Chapter 2, Section IV + Chapter 3, Section I

Summary

Pyle comes to Fowler’s aid, asking if he’s hurt. Fowler tries to get up and realizes that his leg has been wounded in the blast. There is another explosion in the tower. Fowler thinks about crawling toward the paddy field, his pain stops him. He hears crying sounds, and he wonders if they are coming from the tower guards. Fowler tells Pyle that he thinks he’s broken his left leg. He instructs the American to leave him and not to be but Pyle forces Fowler to get up and move into the wet paddy field.

With his leg injured, Fowler reflects that if he faints he will drown. The two men hear a Viet Minh sentry nearby. Fowler sneezes, and at the same moment gunfire breaks out overhead, as the sentry shoots into the rice stalks. Fowler submerges. When the shooting is over and he resurfaces, they hear Fowler’s car explode

Fowler wants to get out of the cold water and lie down on the road. Pyle suggests waiting. Fowler tells Pyle that he should have left him. Pyle confesses that he wouldn’t have been able to face Phuong had he done that, and Fowler asserts that if he were dead, Pyle could have her. Fowler tells Pyle that he would have left him for dead were the situation reversed.

Pyle helps Fowler to the edge of the bank near the road and then goes off through the rice paddy in search of a patrol or another watchtower. Now alone, Fowler once again hears the crying he’d heard before, and he responsible for the sufferer’s pain. He tries to move toward the sound, but he faints from the pain in his leg. He wakes up to a flashlight in his eyes. Pyle has returned, and the men who accompany him inform Fowler that the man in the watchtower is dead. This news brings Fowler relief. The men inject morphine into his leg.

In the first section of 3, Fowler returns to his apartment on the rue Catinat after a stay in the Legion Hospital near Tanyin. He lost his key somewhere in the tower or the rice field, but Phuong is there to let him in.Two communications came for Fowler while he was away. The first is a telegram from his agency containing a new assignment. The second is the long-awaited response from Helen. Fowler opens the letter from Helen and wonders to himself whether or not he will tell Phuong the truth about what it contains.

In her letter, Helen reflects on Fowler’s history of falling in love with women and then leaving them. She speculates that he wrote to her fully expecting an unfavorable reply, and that this would allow him to tell himself that he had at least tried. Helen then asks Fowler if he would actually marry Phuong if she agreed to divorce him. Fowler grows nauseous and stops reading. He feels hurt by her evident pain, and he contemplates how much agony the desire to possess another person can cause. Phuong asks Fowler if Helen has agreed to divorce him, and Fowler tells her that Helen’s answer is not yet clear. Privately, Fowler then chides himself for his false pride in being a reporter who disengaged. He thinks that actual war is kinder than the kind of conflict he has with his wife. Fowler resumes reading, and Helen asserts that she will not grant him a divorce.