Casino Royale | Study Guide

Ian Fleming

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Casino Royale | Chapter 27 : The Bleeding Heart | Summary

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Summary

James Bond wakes the next morning to learn Vesper Lynd is dead. A white residue in her bedside glass and an empty bottle of sleeping pills indicate this wasn't an accident. The innkeeper found her body, along with the suicide note—which Bond takes before going back to his room to wait for the police.

The note explains everything. Vesper was a double agent working for the Soviets, though not by her own choice. Shortly after the end of World War II, Vesper fell in love with a Polish man working for the Royal Air Force. M. trained him and had him return to Poland, where he was captured by the Russians. They tortured him, and in the process learned about Vesper and her job at the British Secret Service. The Soviets contacted Vesper and told her the Pole would live as long as she spied for them. Unable to bear the thought of being the cause of his death, she did as they asked—giving them as little information as possible. She had revealed Bond's mission in Royale-les-Eaux, and continued to relay information up to the time of her staged kidnapping.

Bond's torture changed everything. Vesper fell in love with him and didn't want to be a spy anymore. She tried to back out of the deal, but when the Soviets withdrew the agent who was controlling her she realized she had signed death sentences for herself and her Polish lover. She thought she might escape to South America before SMERSH found her, but when the man with the black eyepatch showed up she realized she had run out of time. Instead of waiting for SMERSH to kill her—and possibly Bond—she decided to kill herself.

Finished with the letter, Bond dries his eyes, gets dressed, and calls the outside liaison officer in London. While the call goes through, he thinks about Mathis's promise Bond would find a worthy target. He vows to go after SMERSH, "the threat behind the spies, the threat that made them spy." When the liaison officer answers the phone, Bond tells him, "3030 was a double, working for Redland. ... The bitch is dead now."

Analysis

Vesper was the cause of nearly all of Bond's problems in Royale-les-Eaux. She tipped off the Soviets about his assignment, which is how they knew to bug his hotel room. She was instructed not to stand behind him during the game of baccarat so the Corsican would be able to intimidate him. She staged her own kidnapping. She was the reason Bond was beaten within an inch of his life. Her presence bungled up the operation just as he feared, but in a very different way. Bond completely underestimated Vesper because she was a woman. It never even crossed his mind she could be a double agent, and because of the way Bond and the narrator spoke about her, it likely doesn't cross readers' minds, either.

Revealing Vesper's double life casts doubt on everything readers think they understood about her character prior to her suicide note. She seemed attracted to Bond during their dinner in Royale-les-Eaux, but she claims she wasn't interested in a relationship with him until he was in the hospital. Was she trying to trick him into falling for her so he would give her more information? Perhaps, but she insists she didn't tell her Soviet handlers much of anything except where Bond would be and when. These discrepancies would be a sign she is lying to Bond in her suicide note just as she did when they were face-to-face. Further proof can be found in her admission Bond's torture changed everything "even though ... Le Chiffre ... did it and he turned out to be a traitor." Le Chiffre was a traitor to the Soviets. This suggests Vesper is—at the time of writing—still more loyal to the Soviets than to the British.

Vesper's inconsistencies can also be attributed to poor character development on Fleming's part. Vesper is meant to be a mysterious character, but she has very little personality beyond the feelings Bond projects onto her. Though she is perhaps the biggest villain in the book, her role plays out more as of a "damsel in distress." Even the revelation she's a double agent happens passively, in the form of a letter. Fleming is often criticized for his lackluster portrayals of women, and Vesper is one of the examples why.

Bond's romantic feelings about Vesper all but disappear when he learns she was a spy. With the exception of a few tears, he hardens himself against any emotion except for anger. Yet it is implied he is more upset about the loss of Vesper's love than he lets on, especially since he almost paid with losing his sexual life forever. Though he would never admit it, his decision to go after SMERSH is part revenge for forcing Vesper to spy and part retribution for his own broken heart. Reversing his decision to leave the SIS also sets the stage for further Bond books to come.

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