The Quiet American Lesson Plan

Instructor: Nora Jarvis

Nora has a Master's degree in teaching, and has taught a variety of elementary grades.

'The Quiet American' by Graham Greene is a fascinating novel about the struggle for love and country. With this lesson plan, you'll help your students examine these struggles through thought-provoking discussion questions and a writing activity.

Learning Objective

Upon completion of this lesson, students will be able to:

  • gives a summary of the main plot points for Graham Greene's The Quiet American
  • compare and contrast the characters Pyle and Fowler in The Quiet American
  • discuss how the personal storyline(s) in The Quiet American relate to the battle between nations for control of Vietnam in the 1950s


  • 45-60 minutes

Curriculum Standards


Analyze how complex characters (e.g. those with multiple or conflicting motivations) develop over the course of a text, interact with other characters, and advance the plot of development of the theme


Write narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events using effective technique, well-chosen details, and well-structured event sequences.


Initiate and participate effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacher-led) with diverse partners on grades 9-10 topics, texts, and issues, building on others' ideas and expressing their own clearly and persuasively.


  • Third Force



NOTE: This lesson plan is designed to be used after students have finished reading The Quiet American by Graham Greene.

  • Divide students into groups of 5-6 students and ask them to take out a piece of paper.
  • Ask groups to decide on the 5-6 most important plot points from the book The Quiet American. There should be one plot point chosen per student.
  • When all groups have finished, share and discuss as a class, writing down the class' choices for most important plot points on the board.
  • Pass out the paper copies of the text lesson The Quiet American: Book Summary and Analysis, one per student.
  • As the groups read (silently or to one another), ask them to highlight all of the plot points included in the lesson's summary that were NOT included in the class' list.
  • As groups finish reading, review the highlighted points from the lesson and decide if students think they are important enough to be added to their class' list on the board.
  • Ask the following discussion questions to round out the conversation:
    • How do you think Pyle and Fowler would describe the country of Vietnam? Find examples from the text that prove Pyle and Fowler think this way.
    • How did Pyle want to help the Vietnamese people?
    • Why do you think Fowler remains neutral about Vietnamese politics?
  • Answer any outstanding questions students may have about the book before handing out the quiz.
  • Ask groups to work together to complete it before reviewing its answers as a class.

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