Last week we discussed colonialism and Post-colonialism. As some mentioned in the discussion Pyle symbolizes colonialism while Fowler symbolizes post-colonialism. In the second half of The Quiet American, we see Fowler being unable to alleviate his guilt in having a part in Pyle’s death. Could this be the reason why Greene made him the narrator of this novel?
In “The White Inuit Speaks” Brydon writes, “post-colonial theorists embrace hybridity and heterogeneity as the characteristic post-colonial mode, some native writers resist what they see as a violating appropriation to insist on their ownership of their stories and their exclusive claim to an authenticity that should not be ventriloquized or parodied” (140).
This quote supports why many believe Fowler to be an unreliable narrator. Fowler takes ownership of his own narrative by telling it the way he wants it to be told and when it should be told. He is a complex character in the novel first showing signs of being disengaged and not too troublesome but its clear by the end of the novel hat Greene didn’t want the readers to see how dark he actually is at first.
Brydon also discusses this concept of ‘contamination’. She says, “…descendants of settlers and immigrants represent at best a contaminated post-coloniality, conforms to this post-modernist model. To challenge it… is fraught with difficulties because authenticity has also been used by colonial peoples in their struggles to regain power over their own lives” (140).
I believe Fowler is a ‘contaminated’ character based on the following: the dynamic between him and Pyle that eventually led to the death of Pyle. We see in the novel that he has no identity but the one provided with his career choice. We see his struggle throughout the novel to stay disengaged, we his infatuation with death and his fear of loneliness. All these things drove him to be more engaged and to go to great lengths to get Phuong. Fowler has struggled to gain control of his own life through manipulation and lies all these things would classify him as contaminated.
For this weeks discussion, I wanted to know what examples in the novel do you see the concept of ‘contamination’ as described by Brydon? What did you think of Brydon’s concept of ambivalence? Do you think Fowler is a contaminated character too? Why or why not?
Human beings have gradually evolved. The development is not confined to physical attributes alone. The way people interact with each other, especially in leadership positions has also experienced a tremendous change. These changes have led to post-modernism and post-colonialism which has since then become part and parcel of human life.
Post-modernist can be broadly defined as a group of people who are usually against any existing theory and ideas that are put forward by common modernists. A lot of discussions have been ongoing about effects of post-colonialism on personalities of human beings. In line with the definition, Pyle’s attributes raise a lot of unanswered questions. Despite the fact that he actively took part in fighting against colonialism and communism, he also played a very significant role in the establishment of General The as the ultimate solution to many problems. Post-modernists are characterized with the rejection of all the political environments that are advocated for by colonialists and communists. Fowler was also guilty for the death of Pyle, and this makes him regarded as a post-modernist. Initially, Fowler was considered as a post-colonialist before he transformed after realizing that it was not the solution at all.
Postcolonialism and postmodernism are common ideologies that have been affecting the human population. Throughout the years, authors and scholars have advocated for the creation of what was termed as a creative contact between the practices of postmodernism and postcolonialism. The act of comparing and contrasting the two ideologies gives people an opportunity to make their own rational decisions. The readers have a chance of analyzing the advantages and disadvantages of both of them since they cannot evade all of them. Despite the fact that people have the power to examine postmodernism and postcolonialism, it has always been an uphill to arrive at an informed and inclusive definition since both of them have many disadvantages.
Different human beings hold divergent views on ideas such as communism, post-modernism, and post-colonialism. Despite the fact that people have extreme opinions, they are very flexible and can change at any time. These aspects are seemingly unavoidable in the daily life of humans.