Casino Royale | Study Guide

Ian Fleming

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Casino Royale | Chapter 19 : The White Tent | Summary

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Summary

James Bond is unconscious for two days, lost in a haze of horrific dreams. When he wakes on the third morning, his body is strapped down and "something like a large white coffin cover[s] him from chest to feet." His shouts turn into sobs, and he finally realizes the kind voice speaking to him is a friend, not an enemy. When he wakes a few hours later, an English nurse is caring for him. He is safe.

Mathis and a French doctor come in the room and tell Bond Le Chiffre and his gunmen are dead and Vesper Lynd is, by her account, completely unharmed. Though Bond's injuries are serious, they are not life-threatening. The doctor is surprised he survived such torture and promises all of Bond's bodily "functions" are working fine. He gives Mathis 10 minutes to ask Bond a few questions about what happened following the end of the card game. Bond's voice weakens as he talks about what happened at Le Chiffre's villa, and Mathis ends the interview. He assures Bond "it is all over now and [he] is in safe hands," then cheers him up with the news the Communist Party is "running around like scalded cats" after learning of Le Chiffre's treachery. Before he leaves, Mathis asks Bond where he hid the check—like Le Chiffre, he and his men can't find it. Bond confesses it is behind the number plate on the outside of his hotel room door. Mathis laughs, then is chased out of the room by the doctor.

Analysis

James Bond is usually known for his ability to bounce back from near-death experiences with a few pithy quips and a quick glance over his shoulder. That's not the case this time. His torture at the hands of Le Chiffre has caused physical and psychological scars, and it appears the latter will last much longer. One chronic effect is fear. Though he is in no physical danger in the hospital, Bond can still feel the horror of what he endured. Recounting his experience to Mathis is enough to "aw[a]ke the whole nightmare" and cause him to break out in a sweat, as if he were living through the torture all over again. The doctor and Mathis are impressed with his fortitude in the face of such brutal treatment, but Bond feels anything but strong. His mind and body are still weakened by the experience. Vulnerable isn't a term usually applied to Bond, but that's exactly what he is here. Le Chiffre nearly succeeded in driving Bond to the edge of madness by nearly destroying the root of his sexual prowess.

Despite the setbacks, Bond has achieved his mission's objective: bankrupting Le Chiffre to unsettle the French Communist Party and the Soviet government. However, in doing so, he has caused problems for himself. He is now known to SMERSH, and the cut in his hand brands him as an enemy. It is clear this isn't the last Bond and readers will see of SMERSH—the organization features prominently in Live and Let Die, From Russia with Love, and Goldfinger, as well as some of the Bond novels written after Fleming's death.

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