Casino Royale | Study Guide

Ian Fleming

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Casino Royale | Chapter 16 : The Crawling of the Skin | Summary

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Summary

James Bond is going just 60 mph when he sees the array of spikes on the road, but he still can't stop quickly enough to avoid it. The car flips over and Bond is thrown from his seat. He is unconscious when Le Chiffre's men cut through the car's fabric roof and pull him out. They rouse him, bind his arms, and put him into the Citroën. He is too tired to fight, and "this last stroke by the enemy seem[s] almost too final." He looks over at Vesper Lynd, his anger at her for "getting herself trussed up like a chicken" with her skirt over her head morphing into pity. He whispers her name and she moves slightly, which tells him she's alive. Bond hears the spiked chain mail being loaded back into the car, and he briefly wonders if M. had underestimated their opponents. But no, it is he who should be blamed—"he who should have known ... and taken infinitely more precautions."

As they draw closer to Le Chiffre's villa, Bond realizes Vesper is just bait. They really want him, not her. For the first time, his skin crawls with fear. Upon their arrival, he and Vesper are separated. Bond tries to escape so he can tell Vesper not to give in to their demands, but the Corsican and the thin man easily incapacitate him. Le Chiffre crooks his finger at Bond and speaks for the first time all night. His voice is soft and emotionless as he beckons Bond into a room. Bond follows, knowing "he [is] utterly and absolutely in their power."

Analysis

Even the best secret agents make mistakes, and most of Bond's can be summed up in one word: hubris. His extreme and foolish level of self-confidence blinds him to the assets of his opponents, which causes him to make careless decisions like toasting his success before the job is truly over. In the hallway of Le Chiffre's villa, Bond finally realizes what he has ignored all along: Le Chiffre and his men are professionals. The tall, thin gunman is a superb and ruthless fighter, and the Corsican is an expert in jujitsu. They can easily kill him if they want to, but they need him alive to find out where he hid the check. Bond severely underestimated the thugs' skill level, as well as Le Chiffre's desperation to repay the money he took from the union. In assessing Le Chiffre and his men, Bond has overlooked his own fatal flaw: his belief he is smarter, stronger, and more skilled than everyone else.

Bond's arrogance has landed him in a perilous situation, but he is self-aware enough to understand he has only himself to blame. It isn't Vesper's fault she was kidnapped—he should have known Le Chiffre would want revenge. It isn't M.'s fault Bond underestimated his opponent—Bond should have taken the eavesdropping Muntzes and the bombing as signs this wouldn't be an easy job. Bond may have made major mistakes during this operation, but he doesn't foist the blame on anyone else, either. His acknowledgment of his own failures and his willingness to learn from them is part of why he's such a good agent. His self-confidence is the other part, but sometimes, like now, it is more dangerous than helpful.

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