Casino Royale | Study Guide

Ian Fleming

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Casino Royale | Chapter 6 : Two Men in Straw Hats | Summary

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Summary

Upon leaving the restaurant, James Bond spots two men wearing dark suits and straw hats. Each carries a camera case on his shoulder, one red, one blue. He is 50 feet away from them when a blinding and deafening explosion throws him to the ground. A massive tree trunk standing between him and the blast saves his life; the two men aren't so lucky. They are obliterated, and scraps of their blood-soaked clothes rain down on Bond.

Mathis hurries Bond to his hotel, turns on the radio, and calls his office to report the blast. After giving instructions about finding a third man and what to tell the police, he turns to Bond and remarks Bond is lucky to be alive—as the bomb was surely meant for him. Mathis leaves to "get [his] nose quickly into this affair before the police have muddied the trail," leaving Bond to sit by the window and "enjo[y] being alive." Miss Lynd calls to check on him, and Bond digs into his lunch.

Analysis

Nobody escapes certain death like James Bond, and his first brush with it is met not with anger or fear, but calm acceptance. Far calmer than when he learned about the eavesdroppers upstairs, he takes his near-death experience in stride. Close calls are familiar territory for him, and the explosion seems to have brought back his steely resolve—especially after Miss Lynd's concerned phone call.

The explosion brings out Bond's best quality—his composure in the face of danger—and elevates Mathis from an onlooker to an active participant in the mission. He is delighted to have something to do instead of "holding Bond's coat while he had his private battle with Le Chiffre in the casino." His excitement seems crass considering Bond was almost blown to smithereens, but it also shows his willingness to play a larger role in the operation.

The relationship between Bond and Mathis reflects the relationship between Britain and France. Though Fleming depicts them as strong allies, Britain is always in the leadership position while France provides backup. This aligns with the theme of British superiority that runs throughout the novel and was meant to flatter English readers and appeal to their patriotism.

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