Casino Royale | Study Guide

Ian Fleming

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Casino Royale | Chapter 3 : Number 007 | Summary

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Summary

Head of S. (the division within the Secret Intelligence Service dedicated to the Soviet Union) brings the dossier to M.'s office. He gives it to Bill, the Chief of Staff, who checks with Miss Moneypenny, M.'s secretary, to see if now's a good time to present it to M. It is. M. approves the plan and assigns the job to Agent 007, James Bond, who is both "tough" and a good gambler.

Bond has reservations about the mission. He tells M. he can't promise to win—the odds are unpredictable, and the bids will be high. M. knows all this—it's his job to know everything—and he assures Bond Le Chiffre "can have a bad run too." He tells Bond to go to Royale-les-Eaux a few days early to size up the situation and win an additional five million francs (approximately $131,804) to go along with the 20 million (approximately $527,217) promised by the British Treasury. Mathis, a French intelligence agent with whom Bond has previously worked, may also join Bond on the mission. This heartens Bond considerably. M. also mentions he's going to let the CIA know about the mission in case they can be of assistance.

Before Bond leaves, M. says he may send an additional British agent to partner directly with Bond. Bond prefers to work alone, "but one didn't argue with M." He hopes the man in question will "be loyal to him and neither stupid, nor, worse still, ambitious."

Analysis

Though Bond usually works alone in the field, he has a good backup team at home: M., the head of the Secret Service, and his gatekeepers, Bill and Miss Moneypenny. These two tertiary characters are more than pencil pushers. By deciding who and what deserves M.'s time, they directly influence the scope of work undertaken by British intelligence. Though both are considered to be unrivaled at their jobs, the third-person narrator outlines their assets in distinctly different ways. Bill is a "young sapper"—soldier—whose good nature is described humorously by comparing his former support position to the Chiefs of Staff committee with his survival of a "sabotage operation in 1944." By contrast, Miss Moneypenny's aptitude for her job is described in a derisive tone. Instead of complimenting her shrewd intelligence, the narrator instead notes she "would have been desirable but for eyes which were cool and direct and quizzical." The narrator is implying a woman's only valuable asset is her attractiveness to men, while men are valued according to their skills.

Misogyny, or an ingrained prejudice against women, is a common theme in James Bond novels, and one critics have railed against since the beginning of the series. Throughout Casino Royale, the narrator, speaking both from his own point of view and from Bond's, insinuates a woman's primary function is that of sex object. That will be a problem for Bond in upcoming chapters. His fears about "the man they sen[d]" to work alongside him will be heightened once he realizes his partner is a woman.

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