Gender Inequality in The Quiet American

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Gender Inequality in The Quiet American

The book The Quiet American focuses on a poor, war-struck, and undeveloped country - Vietnam. In this type of environment, many social problems are accepted, particularly gender inequality. Throughout The Quiet American gender inequality is mostly practiced by men, however it carried out by women as well. Proving that women are unequal to men and woman.

Phuong, Fowler’s lover is a specific example of gender inequality. Firstly, Fowler treats her as if she is the stereotypical housewife and servant. Phuong acts as the stereotypical housewife in three ways. She stays home most of the time, waiting for Fowler to return. When she is out of the house then she is out “haggling for he price of fish over in third street” (pg. 26) because she’s obliged to cook for Fowler. Whenever Fowler comes home every night he has Phuong “Make me another pipe” (pg. 73) or “make me a brandy-and-soda”  (pg. 117). He treats her as his servant and she accepts the inequality “she did at once what I asked…just so she would have made love if I asked her too, straight away, peeling off her trousers without question” (pg. 116). Secondly, Fowler uses her more as an object for sex and avoiding loneliness than (“my biggest fear” pg. 57) his lover or girlfriend. Throughout the story they are never seen together doing things that couples would normally do together such as going for walks together and going to the movies. Pyle at one point asked him if he could “live without her” (pg. 77).  He replies “That’s too emotional, not quite true either” (pg. 77). He only uses her to fulfill his sexual desires. He does not “care that for her interests. You can have her interests. I only want her body. I want her in bed with me.” (pg. 59) He would much “rather ruin her and sleep” (pg. 59) than “look after her damned interests” (pg. 59). Altogether, he treats her as his sex slave “she did not change; she cooked for me, she made my pipes, she gently and sweetly laid out her body for my pleasure” (pg. 140). Finally, the way Fowler speaks to her is as if he is more superior to her - he speaks down to her. In the quote above (pg. 140), the manner of how he describes how he used the words “laid out” and “for my pleasure” has this greedy superior style. The way he has spoken them sounds as if he is the man in charge and is commanding her. When he asks her to do things it is not a question, it is an order. “Kiss me Phuong” (pg. 116), “You had better stay here tonight” (pg. 22), “Wait in the street” (pg. 21). However, Phuong and Fowler are just one example of gender inequality.

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Phuong is not the only female victim of gender inequality. Throughout the book women continue to suffer from gender inequality. Firstly, there is this motif of men referring women to different objects. In the beginning of the story Granger seems to refer to women as if they are animals. When he saw Phuong for the first time he asked, “Where did you find her? Didn’t know you had a whistle in you” (pg. 34) as if she was found off the street like stray dog. He continues to refer to women’s animal characteristics “let’s go find a girl. You’ve got ...

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