Casino Royale | Study Guide

Ian Fleming

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Casino Royale | Chapter 4 : "L'ennemi Écoute" | Summary

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Summary

James Bond arrives in Royale-les-Eaux two weeks later. He spends the first two days playing roulette and chemin-de-fer (a type of baccarat) and increases his bankroll by three million francs (approximately $79,802). As he works, he notes Le Chiffre is "a faultless and lucky gambler." On the morning of the third day, he receives a phone call during his sumptuous breakfast. He is told "a Director of Radio Stentor" has a radio for him. This is the prearranged cover story for French agent Mathis. To Bond's confusion, Mathis keeps up his cover after his arrival in Bond's room. He turns on the radio, and ear-splitting static briefly fills the room before Mathis finds a station and turns down the volume. It turns out the people in the room directly above Bond's are spying on him via a radio wire hidden behind his room's electric space heater. Mathis's radio ensures conversations in Bond's room will not be overheard.

Mathis tells Bond about his "Number Two," who—Bond is displeased to learn—is a woman. Mathis promises the agent "is as serious as you could wish and as cold as an icicle." He also points out a "Jamaican millionaire" like Bond would look naked without a woman on his arm. Mathis then gives Bond the rundown of the opposition. Le Chiffre and two guards have taken a villa down the road. Three "mysterious and rather subhuman characters" who are also thought to be part of Le Chiffre's team are staying in town. In addition CIA agent Felix Leiter has arrived.

None of this reassures Bond. He broods in his room after Mathis leaves, worrying about both the opposition and his new partner.

Analysis

Mathis's jubilant mood is a sharp contrast to Bond's pessimism. He enjoys the complications that come along with the job of international intelligence and treats the various stumbling blocks and surprises as if they were part of a delightful game. Bond, on the other hand, acts as if each new revelation brings him closer to death. He's not wrong. Unlike Mathis Bond puts his life on the line with every mission. Being a Double O agent means he is licensed to kill when necessary, but it also means he is more likely than his associates to be on the receiving end of a bullet or a bomb. That's one of the reasons why Bond is so irritated he's been given a partner. He has confidence in his own abilities of self-preservation, but he doesn't trust anyone else to make sure he comes out of this alive.

The other reason he's so upset about his partner is because she's female. He firmly believes "[w]omen [are] for recreation." Sex, feelings, "and all the emotional baggage they carr[y] around" will only get in his way on the job. He hasn't yet met his partner, but he already assumes she will want to have a sexual relationship with him. His arrogance on the matter suggests he's been in this position before, and it prompts readers to wonder whose "hurt feelings" he's worried about—hers or his own. In either case Bond has no use for his new partner even though Mathis says she's extremely qualified for the job.

Bond is also unnerved by the professionalism of his opponent. He didn't expect Le Chiffre to be onto him so early in the operation, nor did he imagine Le Chiffre to be traveling with such a large contingent of thugs and spies. Bond erroneously assumed battle would be done only at the baccarat table. Now he worries about living long enough to play the game.

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