The quiet American” by Graham Greene

Core Thesis Question: In what ways is the innocence and idealism of Graham Greene’s Alden Pyle a credible portrait, or instructive illustration, of the dangers of American Exceptionalism as noted by numerous authors in our collection of supplemental readings?
Here follow three topic development alternatives for this thesis question, in comprehensive introductory paragraphs with thesis statements in bold font.
Topic Development #1 In his novel The Quiet American, Graham Greene examines the paradoxical danger resulting from good intentions, innocence, and idealism. His title character, Alden Pyle, adopts as an ally the shrewd and violent General The, providing explosives that the general uses in a campaign of disinformation, shifting blame to the communists for a bombing that takes the lives of scores of Vietnamese civilians. In the misguided idealism of his title character, Greene anticipates the paradoxical danger of righteous presumptions that historian Howard Zinn finds in the history of American expansionism and that James Carroll finds in the American conduct of the “global war on terror.” Topic Development #2 In his 1955 The New Yorker review of Graham Greene’s The Quiet American, eminent literary critic A.J. Liebling ridicules Greene for basing his novel on actual events while blaming a deadly bombing on the work of an official of the American government. After accusing the British writer of betraying a tone of national jealousy over the upstart emerging world power across the Atlantic, Liebling admonishes Greene for the criminal activity of his American protagonist: ‘There is a difference, after all, between calling your over-successful offshoot a silly ass and accusing him of murder (355). In his fierce defense of American impunity in Vietnam, Liebling displays the certitude of nobility at the core of theologian Reinhold Niebuhr and historian Howard Zinn’s criticism of American Exceptionalism.

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