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Vietnamese in Greene’s The Quiet American and Terry’s Bloods Term Paper

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Updated: Jul 28th, 2020

The political role of the US in both works

The themes in the books, ‘The Quiet American’ and ‘Bloods,’ draw a similar picture of the political role of the US’s intervention of Vietnam. While both works are keen to point out the political role of the US’s interest in the Vietnam War, the later centers on the reasons that were a failed mission. Precisely stated, the reason that saw America draw itself into the Vietnam fiasco was because of the threat that emanated from communists’ ideology. Ideally, the war happened accurately at the height of a political milieu that stemmed from a Cold War pitting the US and the Soviet Union in the mid 18th century.

Principally, the war of espionage and suspicion between the two nations had utter bread animosity that scaled beyond the borders. Basically, in the wake of 1946, Northern Indochina, a former French colony, was under the control of Ho Chi Minh- a communist. The United State’s efforts to persuade him to surrender the colony to the French fell on deaf ears. As such, the US’s intervention as a ‘Third Force’ in the war was, nonetheless, unsurprising. Towards the end of the 1960s, American intervention into the situation could be described as a full-scale military intervention given that they had deployed over half a million troops in Vietnam, all in a bid to fight the spread of communism.

Graham Greene, in his book, suggests the United States had from the early stages of the cold war- in 1952, undercover American spies and other operatives who were actively engaged in setting up a ‘Third Force.’ The other nations involved in the struggle were not wary of this. According to the book, the mandate of this ‘Third Force’ would be to liberate Vietnam from “communism and the taint of colonialism” (Greene115). Greene describes America’s role in the struggle throughout the entirety of the book as a culturally conceited and morally disdainful exercise. Despite the American’s initial prima facie impression of an individual who appears to foster integrity, he later appears indifferent about the outcome of his actions.

The American interaction with the Vietnamese people

In the book, the American is utterly bizarrely selective in her explanation of understanding of the consequences. The bombing of a town in Central Saigon is primarily a fight aimed at striking a blow on communism. According to the book, the resultant Vietnamese casualties are unimportant, as they are aptly described to have died for democracy (Greene171). The lessons derived from the scene resonate thought the entire period from the 1950s, with the world witnessing the US’s mischief in lending a hand on issues affecting other countries while cunningly protecting its interests.

Back home, there was much indignation about how the whole exercise was being conducted. In the field, their strategies were not yielding; in fact, they played to the advantage of the enemy. The US chose to employ a strategy to protect both the people in the south of Vietnam and the liberators of the villagers that were previously invaded by the Vietcong. There was a division from the white house on how the war is to be handled with the then situation of things spiraling out of control. Divided opinion about the war still raged, with the defense secretary openly criticizing the invasion, the civilians and the military also deeply divided.

On the face of all these, however, the American government still maintained its initial stance in protecting the Vietnamese. While drawing up its retaliation strategies, it had the interests of Vietnam at heart. When the proposition to engage the enemy on both breaths of air and ground offensive came about, the then president knew that the casualties would be the civilians.

It had become hard for the American army to distinguish between civilians and the fighters, a strategic disadvantage to the US, of which a ground offensive would be fatal to the civilians. The president could not buy such (Wallace 37). The act of balance between their actions in the field and the ever-widening differing opinion on the same was aimed to divert any debates that would arise on the issue of Vietnam. At the congress, the government had legislation that needed approval, and the president did not want to lose out on both fronts. This is quoted as saying that he would not want to lose the “woman he so dearly loved (the American society) for the bitch of a war on the other side of the world” (Wallace 57).

On the face of it, though, the American is trying to win over the confidence of Vietnam. By staying silent amid all the mayhem, Fowler realizes that being opinioned is also a course of action (Wallace 20). They broadly discuss the legality of their occupation and the whole conflict with Pyle, a representative of American interest. He accuses Pyle and his people of interfering with the stability in the whole region by interjecting that Pyle and his “like (whites) are trying to make war with people who are not even interested” (Wallace 86).

Much as Fowler critics the American and his ideologies in the manner at which he handles the war, he has some deep-rooted respect to Pyle’s desire to make a change.

The two people are a sharp contrast to one another, Pyle has a couple of theories to himself that surprisingly detach him from the reality on the ground and is utterly untouched by the actions of both his people and the enemy. Greene describes him as carelessly dismissive of the chaos that he has caused, albeit indirectly. He convinces his conscience and anybody who cares to know that the casualties of war were simply a bunch of people who died in the right course (Wallace 171). Pyle is only interested in protecting his white folks, which in this case, is rather racist because the American army also had black soldiers. Fowler, on the other hand, despite his indifference in the war initially, is shocked and dismayed by the level of suffering the people he comes across, such as the woman whose baby passed while on her lap. In desperation, he concludes that the casualties “were not sufficiently important” (Wallace 155)

These two characters are a stack of the symbolism of what their ideals stand for. Pyle represented American interests in the war. He was neither concerned by the effect of their interference in the war or the damage to civilians. Rather, he only cared about containing the spread of communism. He brushes the death and resultant casualties as nothing more than a contribution to democracy, to which he also draws his solace.

Was race a factor in the respective works?

To the black man, the war defined a point in time when another opportunity, aside from World War II, had presented itself. Blacks had initially been described as fearful and that they would melt away in times of combat, as was the case in their encounter with Italian troops in World War II. To them, it was a test of patriotism, a chance they had been given to redeem themselves once more like people who cherished American ideals. They were also tested on their ability to withstand and take orders from their white superiors in the face of the civil rights and liberation struggles and the unrest that shook America at the time.

In the book, the race was a major factor. A good number of American soldiers were blacks who were either serving life sentences back home or even minor offenders from the ghettos convinced to contribute to democracy. Pyle cares less about black people in the book; he is rather affected by any white casualties. On the other hand, the government of the US is not interested in the count of the dead soldiers who were majorly black, but rather in winning the war whatever it entailed.


In a synopsis, the literature has brought to the fore the compelling reason that made the American intervene in Vietnam War: to stem communist ideology. In the course of the war, America’s interaction with the Vietnamese people was such that they rather remain, mum, as they wield atrocity on the civilians. This was at the backdrop of a failed military strategy and of whom racial discrimination against black soldiers was majorly manifested.

Works Cited

Greene, Graham. The Quiet American. New York: Penguin, 2004. Print.

Wallace, Terry. Bloods: Black Veterans of the Vietnam War: An Oral History. Boston: Allyn, 1985. Print.

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IvyPanda. (2020, July 28). Vietnamese in Greene's The Quiet American and Terry's Bloods. Retrieved from https://ivypanda.com/essays/vietnamese-in-greenes-the-quiet-american-and-terrys-bloods/

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"Vietnamese in Greene's The Quiet American and Terry's Bloods." IvyPanda, 28 July 2020, ivypanda.com/essays/vietnamese-in-greenes-the-quiet-american-and-terrys-bloods/.

1. IvyPanda. "Vietnamese in Greene's The Quiet American and Terry's Bloods." July 28, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/vietnamese-in-greenes-the-quiet-american-and-terrys-bloods/.


IvyPanda. "Vietnamese in Greene's The Quiet American and Terry's Bloods." July 28, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/vietnamese-in-greenes-the-quiet-american-and-terrys-bloods/.


IvyPanda. 2020. "Vietnamese in Greene's The Quiet American and Terry's Bloods." July 28, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/vietnamese-in-greenes-the-quiet-american-and-terrys-bloods/.


IvyPanda. (2020) 'Vietnamese in Greene's The Quiet American and Terry's Bloods'. 28 July.

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