The novel, The Quiet American has been dubbed the best of the works of English writer Graham Green. This is largely contributed by his careful selection of his words and topics.
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One of the phrases that have attracted review, criticism and also appraisal is the page 18’s “God save us from the good and innocent”. The tone, ambiguity, the person of the narrator and the context of the phrase has been the main reasons for the phase’s accreditation of all this.
Some of the features in the novel attributed to the line and the American exceptional and democratic ideology at home and abroad are tackled in this paper with an aim of unearthing the reason of seeking the protection of God from the “good and innocent”.
Fowler- the narrator- is calling for the protection from what he terms as the good and the innocent. However, the reference of anything as being good and innocent connotes a secure environment.
Thus, the audience is left in suspense to decide why the good and the innocent are so dangerous as to require the protection of God. However, by the end of the novel the audience is able to understand the thematic phrase from various contexts.
One of the main characters in Green’s work piece is an American ideologist who has read much about the “third forces” theory in the books of York Harding and eventually taken them as his -Alden Pyle.
Pyle believes that neither communism nor colonialism can heal the third world countries but rather third force. He is depicted as a guy with the intentions of saving the Vietnamese and the part of the world that has been subject to the maneuvers of the prior colonialism and communism theories.
Pyle is quiet in his involvements as many of the persons around him were followers of the colonialist and communistic ideologies and thus could interfere with his missions to save the “innocent” Vietnamese. He has to do this as “Innocence always calls mutely for protection…” (Green, 36)
“Unfortunately the innocent are always involved in any conflict…” (Green, 118) Alden Pyle –as Fowler discovers- has been so discreetly importing military supplies from his motherland the United States.
Later the weapons are used in bombing a city square where dozens of people are killed. Yet Alden Pyle comes out as the innocent with no one to prove his guilt. Even Fowler admits that one cannot relate Alden Pyle to the bombings.
This move though it comes so late in the novel is a clear indication of the danger that the innocent in the community pose. Pyle is considered innocent by everyone around him yet he is a cause of the harm that the community suffers.
The co-main character in the novel-Fowler- is also used by Green in expounding the theme “God save us from the good”. Unlike Pyle, Fowler is detached from many things to the extent that he is depicted as the indecisive guy in the book.
He is however determined to continue in his relationship with Phuong a live in girl friend for two years whom Pyle also seeks to marry. Fowler’s determinations are dented by the divorce rejection from his wife.
At some point, Pyle is able to snatch the girl away from Fowler (Green, 133). This and other factors of hatred contribute to his involvement in Pyle’s killing.
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The subsequent investigations fail to reveal his involvement and he is left as yet another innocent in the community. He is an avenger who does not consider that Pyle had saved his life when they both were in trouble. Never did Pyle see fowler as a threat to his life- he was innocent in the face of Pyle (Green, 120).
It has been the stand of the United States of America to do what it can to safeguard mankind at all places from the torture and involvement of the brutal surroundings.
This is depicted in Pyle who believes in saving the Vietnamese from the forces of communism and colonialist. The discrete operations of the Americans are in most times carried out by persons who are least perceived by the communities around them to be guilty of any act.
Such persons are in most cases spies and may take as most time as to have all the required information and to keep the process as private as possible. This makes them appear so innocent at the face of the community.
In some instances the quest to save mankind leads to deaths of even the uninterested parties and civilians. This is evident in the play as the bomb that explodes at the city square has a lot of casualties (Green, 150). The good intentions of the Americans thus are portrayed to be a misfortune which God should save us from.
Throughout the novel, Green has portrayed the innocent persons as a threat to the economy and this is the paradox he explains in the phrase “God save us from the good and innocent”.
Much attention has been the portrayal of America as one of the innocent worries that the outside world should wary of. However, the general setting of the book is attributable to different walks of life that the novel tackles. In conclusion thus, the phrase was well chosen especially considering its position at the early stages of the book and the reality based plot in which the book is set.
Murrim, John, John, Paul, McPherson, Gerstle, Gary & Rosenberg, Emily. Liberty, Equity, Power: A History of the America People. Vol. 2. Since 1863. Concise Edition. Belmont, California. Wadsworth Publishing. 2006.