Elena asked:

Is the character of Pyle in the Quiet American based on General Lansdale?

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Max No. Lansdale was first stationed in Viet Nam in 1954. The events in the book took place in 1952. When Greene first met Lansdale he had nearly completed the book. Also, Greene denied Lansdale was the basis for Alden Pyle. Pyle was based on Leo Hochstetter, public affairs director for America’s Economic Aid Mission. Greene had shared a hotel room with him and they drove back to Saigon together just as Pyle and Fowler do in the book. On the way Hochstetler told Greene of the need for a third force and mentioned General Thế as a good choice. Greene did say that Hochstetter was much savvier than Pyle.
Megan Yes, the particular character is.
However, what the two-dimensional protagonist also symbolises, is the Americans in the Vietnam War.
Just as the USA was, Pyle is blinded by his 'good intentions and his ignorance', alike 'a dump leper who had lost his bell, wandering the world, meaning no harm'; Pyle and the American soldiers were not properly equipped to fight in Guerrilla Warfare, and so the good intentioned, yet ignorant Americans caused the deaths of many innocent civilians. George W Bush calls this 'Collateral damage', however, if you search images of My Lai (a village that was pillaged by war-mad American soldiers), it's evident that the authorities such as Pyle and the real life Lieutenant Calley should never had the power they possessed.
I hope this helps, and you enjoyed the book as much as myself!
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