Narrative Voice

First-Person narrator

Fowler is the narrator: it is through him that we access the other characters, and it is his voice that colours the events of the story according to the way he sees them. Our image of him as a person is coloured by his perception of himself. We have to bear in mind other people’s reactions to him to gain a more balanced picture of him

The language of the text is characterised by its level of observation, which suits Fowler’s profession as a newspaper reporter. It is much more literary and descriptive, however, than the kind of language used to write press reports. Fowler is able to make keen and perceptive comments, often aided by carefully chosen images that capture moods and people and convey a lot of information to the reader. Fowler’s insistence that he has never found anything to be inexplicable, that ‘[t]he job of a reporter is to expose and record’ (p.88) is somewhat contradicted by his literary style. His language and style are always open to multiple interpretations and work not by explaining things clearly, but rather by suggesting and evoking them.

Part of Fowler’s talent for observation is his ability to make accurate judgments about people. It is ironic that Fowler claims for much of the text that he does not take sides or have opinions because all of his descriptions of other characters contain judgments. Fowler, however, would probably consider that he is just seeing the ‘truth’ of the character.

How does Greene’s choice of using Fowler to narrate the story in first person add to the text?
2 How would you describe the ‘voice’ of Fowler?
3 How relaible is Fowler as the narrator?
The Quiet American : An English website unit developed by George Marootus with additional material by VATE and contributions by Bianca de Vos and Sam Bryant. Website designed and constructed by George Marotous.
Contact.© English Faculty, Melbourne High School. 12 July 2010