The Quiet american
Through the theme of involvement, the reader sees the consequences of the main characters are based on their level of involvement, showing the lack of involvement is as costly as deep involvement.
Pyle’s deep involvement shows through his blind following of York Harding and the Third Force results in his death, showing the negative consequence of being too involved. From the beginning, Pyle’s idealism has driven him toward the path of being involved and taking numerous actions inconsiderately. As the plot develops, the seriousness of his actions enhances and has no sign of cessation for he evidently believes his actions are for the right causes. The deep involvement ultimately cost him his own life. Even though Fowler tries to acknowledge through reasonings, neglecting others, Pyle said, “I’m not likely to change except with death …, this morning they were only war casualties …, they died in the right cause …, they died for democracy.” (171). Pyle wrongly murders many innocents but still, he does not feel sorry or empathy for his actions, repeatedly acclaims it serves the purpose of bringing democracy to Vietnam. Not only does it show Pyle’s involvements are driven by his lack of understanding but also stating that death is the only solution for that clueless yet enthusiastic involvement. Therefore, he is eventually killed as an inevitable cost for his actions. In general, by being too deeply involved in his clouded ideology, Pyle hurts everyone else including himself and his death is an inevitable outcome, showing the cost of deep involvement.
Phuong, on the other hand, is involved, yet very little; therefore, she does not have the choice in controlling her life, and it hurts her feelings. Listing out her feelings, Phuong’s actions are controlled by her manipulative sister, and almost no actions are taken for her aspiration. She acts tough as if she cannot get hurt for, she does not get involved; however, deep down inside, she is fragile, and just as breakable as everyone else. Even at the end of the novel, Phuong only expresses a hint of her emotions, “I said to Phuong, ‘Do you miss him much? There was so much you could have done together …, I’m sorry, Phuong’. Even though she is sad, and she does miss Pyle, she acts like she is happy, hiding her true feelings, said with a small hesitation ‘I want to see the Cheddar Gorge… What are you sorry for? My sister will be so pleased.’” (180). Phuong keeps avoiding in answering Fowler her feelings; instead, she repeatedly states that her sister would be so happy, as if how her sister feels matter the most, even more than those of her own. She tries to conceal her feelings, trying to be uninvolved like she does not suffer from thoughts or obsessions, yet, like everyone, she has hesitation and sadness for not being able to live her own life for her own sake and passion but her sister instead. In brief, Phuong’s involvements are insignificant, and it hurts for she cannot be her true self because of her controlling sister, making her consequence as equally painful as Pyle’s.
As Fowler witnessed a shift of change in his moral code in involving in the end, it makes Fowler the only one of the three who can moderately be involved; however, it is the tardiness in taking involvements that is costly. At first, Fowler refuses to take actions but as the plot develops and Fowler comes to a point that he cannot continue to be uninvolved, he takes actions, yet moderately. He only takes actions that are vital and necessary, unlike Pyle nor Phuong, his decisions are based on everyone else feel as well as his own. Still, it is hurtful, for the hesitation in becoming involved from the beginning inevitably lead him to a path where certain sacrifices are needed. To be specific, he said, “Everything had gone right with me since he had died, but how I wished there existed someone to whom I could say that I was sorry.” (180). Though Fowler knows about the ‘Bicycle Operation’ before, only when Pyle causes the death of the citizens with no sign of stopping and certain actions must be taken; he kills Pyle, for the sake of the Vietnamese, Phuong and of his own because killing Pyle is the only way to save the uninvolved innocents. Yet as right as his life has gone, he sacrifices Pyle and his fondness forward the man for there is no other way he could do, and that is grief that he must bear alone until the end of his life. By being involved moderately, with necessity only, Fowler still cost his feelings as he lately shifts his moral code in involvement.