Casino Royale | Study Guide

Ian Fleming

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Casino Royale | Chapter 12 : The Deadly Tube | Summary

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Summary

James Bond mentally wallows in his loss for a few moments and looks over at Vesper Lynd. Moments later the table's huissier, or attendant, hands him an envelope full of money. The note inside reads, "Marshall Aid. Thirty-two million francs (approximately $843,548). With the compliments of the USA." Bond is back in the game as long as Le Chiffre hasn't already made the 50 million francs (approximately $1.3 million) he needs to pay back the union. He hasn't—he still needs eight million francs (approximately $210,880). Le Chiffre sets the bet at 32 million francs. It is only the second time in the history of baccarat the stakes have risen that high.

Bond accepts the bet. The game's supervisor—chef de partie—checks to make sure Bond actually has enough money. As the croupier counts the crisp bills, Bond feels a gun pushed into the small of his back. Le Chiffre's thug whispers Bond must withdraw his bet by the count of 10 or he will shoot. No one else, not even Felix Leiter or Vesper Lynd, realizes what's going on. Bond is on his own. When the gunman reaches the count of 7, Bond throws himself backward. His tipping chair jerks the gun out of the thug's hands. Bond, feigning embarrassment at his "momentary faintness," is pleased to see Le Chiffre's "fat, pale face" looks frightened. The gunman is gone, but his walking stick remains. Its rubber tip is missing. Bond tells the huissier to give the cane to Leiter, then prepares to get back in the game.

Analysis

The mention of "Marshall Aid" in Felix Leiter's note to Bond is a reference to the American Marshall Plan, which during 1948–51 sent $13 billion in postwar financial aid to Europe. Also known as the European Recovery Program, the Marshall Plan was named after George C. Marshall, the U.S. Secretary of State in 1947–49. Leiter's allusion illustrates the nature of the relationship between the United States and Britain during the early years of the Cold War, at least from the superior British point of view—the United States funds the cause while the British handle strategy and skill.

Like the surprise explosion earlier in the day, Bond's second brush with death occurs in a public place. Dozens of onlookers, including Leiter and Vesper Lynd, are mere feet away from Bond when the Corsican gunman threatens his life. This scene highlights some of Bond's more notable character traits:

  • He is more attuned to danger than anyone else in the room. Time and time again, he sees threats others overlook.
  • Trouble finds him. His job and his willingness to take risks make him a target for his opponents—even in a room crowded with witnesses.
  • He can only rely on himself. Bond has a partner and two allies in this endeavor, but none of them are paying attention to his personal safety. They assume the only risks in the casino involve money, and they are literally looking the other way when the Corsican whispers in Bond's ear. No matter how many people are on his side, Bond must operate as if he's on his own.
  • He is willing to risk his life for the mission. Bond could have retracted the bet as the gunman instructed, but he chose to carry on.
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