Does The Quiet American by Graham Greene deserve a place in the English literary canon?

1 Answer | Add Yours

accessteacher's profile pic

accessteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

I personally think that Graham Greene is an excellent author and that this work is a fine example of his technique and writing, and in particular that this book is relevant to our day and age. Let us remember that the central issue that Greene discusses in this tale is the politics of intervention in a foreign nation. However, Greene, as always, makes this an explicitly personal issue. The way in which the nations of Britain, America and Vietnam are represented by the various characters gives us real insight into this issue. Consider how Fowler maintains his detached relationship from the very beginning, repeating "I'm not involved. Not involved." Pyle, on the other hand, is over-eager to become involved in every experience. Fowler is forced to concede that true detachment is impossible, as he is told: "Sooner or later, one has to take sides. If one is to remain human." The genius of this novel lies in the ambivalence which shrouds Fowler's motives for becoming engaged. The novel overall seems to suggest that in our world full of sin, it is impossible to be detached and not come involved, but that also the act of becoming involved always exposes our own weaknesses and sins. In a world where the US is still desperately trying to extricate itself from Afghanistan, this novel is just as relevant as ever.

We’ve answered 318,915 questions. We can answer yours, too.

Ask a question