Casino Royale | Study Guide

Ian Fleming

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Casino Royale | Chapter 23 : Tide of Passion | Summary

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Summary

James Bond and Vesper Lynd share a passionate kiss in Vesper's room. He apologizes for being so hasty. She doesn't seem to mind too much, but she won't let him hold her. She says they should get ready for dinner and offers to unpack his suitcase. Undeterred, he wraps his arms around her again only to be gently rebuffed. He's pretty sure she's crying. "My love," he surprisingly says as he leaves.

Bond returns to his room and puts on a robe and his swimming trunks, then heads to the beach. He swims vigorously, then comes ashore to dry off. He examines the areas of his injuries, which seem almost as good as new, then lies naked on the sand and thinks about Vesper. When he first awoke in the hospital he thought she would just be a fling, but "somehow she [has] crept under his skin" during the past two weeks. He finally comes to a decision about how he should proceed with her. It isn't until he's walking back toward the inn he realizes he's naked. Slipping on his robe, he carries the swimming trunks in his hand.

Analysis

The return of Bond's confidence and feelings of masculinity are symbolized by his choice of clothing (and lack thereof) on his walk to and from the beach. On the way there, he wears a short, kimono-style robe over his swim trunks. Self-conscious about his scars and bruises, he covers himself as much as possible so no one will see the physical reminders of his vulnerability. Alone on the beach, he is free to undress without anyone seeing him. His swim in the ocean confirms he hasn't lost any of his strength or endurance. Physically, he seems to be in good working order. When he walks back to his robe, he does so entirely naked. His "manhood" is entirely on display. Even when he realizes he's naked, he decides to forgo the swimming trunks and only wears the robe for the sake of public decency. Swaggeringly self-confident, the old James Bond is back in all the attention Fleming pays to his body.

A major part of his mental recovery can be attributed to Vesper. Her love makes him feel masculine, as does her frailty. Her anxiousness arouses the protector in him, and he is once again the dominant male soothing the fears of the delicate female. Yet not all of Bond's motives are pure. Part of the reason he likes her is because "there would always be a private room inside her which he could never invade." There is a distance about her, something he can never truly know. He's convinced "the conquest of her body ... would each time have the sweet tang of rape." That may come across as crass or startling to today's readers. As the novel's protagonist, Bond is positioned as the book's hero, and it seems odd to have a character the reader is supposed to envy wax poetic about rape. There are a few things to keep in mind here. First, Casino Royale was written in the early 1950s before the sexual revolution of the 1960s and 1970s. Many people saw rape not as an act of sexual violence, but as an unspoken part of romantic relationships. Second, there's no evidence in the novel Bond is actually a rapist. Fleming instead presents him as enjoying the thought of taking something that doesn't belong to him. With Vesper, he believes he will experience that feeling over and over again. Third (and perhaps most important), Fleming often said James Bond was never meant to be a hero.

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