The Quiet American
Graham Greene’s The Quiet American is a story about love. The main focus of this love is from Pyle and Fowler to Phuong. Through the novel Fowler and Pyle battle for this women’s love, but the reality is that Phuong’s love is not obtainable. The two men even speak of her in the third person, which reflects their idea of her as an object. Phuong sells herself to the highest bidder and is just looking for the best situation for herself. Phuong’s whoring personality is seen through her relationships with three characters during the course of the novel.
In Phuong’s relationship with Fowler she is treated like a prostitute. Fowler’s relationship with Phuong is built on sex.
“ ‘I don’t care that for her interests. I only want her body. I want her in bed with me. I’d rather ruin her and sleep with her than, than . . . look after her damned interests,’ ” (p 59).
While he does later express an interest to divorce his wife and marry Phuong this interest only arose out of the possibility of losing her in bed. Fowler doesn’t want a deep relationship, he just wants security and to feel comfortable. This is seen in his conversation with Pyle in the tower. “ ‘I just don’t want to be alone in my last decade, that’s all,’ ” (p 104). Fowler would rather be with a woman that he didn’t love than have to be alone. Phuong provides an easy woman to obtain with little emotional involvement. Fowler just flat out uses Phuong as one would a prostitute. He takes sex from her and a sense of security. All this is in exchange for sustaining her lifestyle. Fowler’s and Phuong’s needs compliment each others, but Pyle provides a more enterprising opportunity for Phuong.
In her relationship with Pyle she shows how willing she is to sell herself. She goes behind Fowler, who is the man she is with, to pursue possibilities with Pyle. While never directly said it can be inferred from the passage where Pyle recognizes Phuong’s footsteps and the passage where the two look as if they have just parted from kiss. It is not possible for her to have true emotions for Fowler and be out with Pyle behind Fowler’s back. She pursues Pyle for his money and her desire to see the American “skyscrapers”, not for the love that Pyle hopes to receive. Phuong used Pyle and never had any true feelings for him. Fowler realizes this the night that Pyle is murdered and he is taking opium hits with Phuong. He sees her lack of pain from the loss of Pyle and questions if he was “ ‘the only one who really cared for Pyle?’ ” (p 22). The whole time Pyle was pursuing a girl who had no feelings for him. When his material possessions were no longer obtainable Pyle was cleaned from Phuong’s mind. In this relationship Phuong’s tendency towards selling herself is most easily seen, but it is her sister that allows for an outside view on her prostitution.
Phuong’s sister can be seen as a pimp in her dealings with Phuong. In Miss Hei’s first meeting with Pyle the only thing she is interested in is how much money and authority he has in the United States. Fowler notices this and comments “ ‘It sounds as though you were examining Mr. Pyle’s marriageability,’ ” (p 42). This was exactly what Miss Hei was doing. Miss Hei sees Pyle as a more beneficial option than Fowler and attempts to set up a meeting without his presence. “ ‘Then you must come and have dinner with me and my sister when Monsieur Fowler is gone,’ ” (p 43). Miss Hei’s interest in her sister’s affairs has nothing to do with Phuong’s happiness. She is only looking for the man with more money. Miss Hei sells her sisters body for money, which would in turn make Miss Hei a pimp and Phuong a prostitute.
While Phuong can be deemed a prostitute, it does not have to be seen in a negative light. Her selling of herself comes from necessity and culture.
“ ‘It [love] isn’t in their nature. You will find that