Casino Royale | Study Guide

Ian Fleming

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Casino Royale | Chapter 7 : "Rouge et Noir" | Summary

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Summary

James Bond has a massage in his hotel room, takes a nap and a cold shower, then goes to the casino. He ruminates about gambling and luck on his way to the roulette wheel, where he bets the maximum amount and goes on a fairly good winning streak, increasing his bankroll by one million francs (approximately $26,360). Other gamblers try to ride the coattails of his luck, and one of them, an American, seems to be particularly interested in Bond. This is Felix Leiter, the CIA agent Bond has been expecting.

The two men have a drink. Bond orders a martini, specifying exactly how it should be made right on down to the slice of lemon peel. The barman and Leiter are both impressed, and Bond says the drink is his own invention, though it doesn't yet have a name. In a low voice, Leiter suggests he call it "the 'Molotov Cocktail' after the one [he] tasted [that] afternoon." Leiter says his bosses in Washington, D.C., have instructed him to give Bond all the help required to take down Le Chiffre, although they wish they were in charge of the mission themselves. Bond suggests Leiter keep an eye on his new partner and on Le Chiffre's two gunmen. Bond decides he likes Leiter, who has military experience and the "jack-knife" toughness of a falcon. They return to the hotel, where Leiter is also staying, and arrange to meet at the casino in a few hours.

Analysis

Just as the relationship between Bond and Mathis represents the alliance between Britain and France, the connection between Bond and Leiter is symbolic of the affiliation between Britain and the United States. Again, Bond is in the position of power. As the leader of the operation, he tells everyone else what to do while Leiter is left in a support position with Bond's junior partner. This is a strategic move on Fleming's part. Britain and the United States had different agendas following the conclusion of World War II. The British government wanted to maintain its own empire, until it couldn't any longer, and strengthen the position of the monarchy and dominance, while American leaders pushed for developing capitalistic democracies in lieu of imperial rule. Via Bond, Fleming shows Britain's supposed superiority in international affairs and normalizes its governmental structure for those who may question it.

Bond is accustomed to control in all aspects of his life, from the running of his missions to the brand of gin in his martini. Yet he also realizes there are some things he can't control, namely luck and love. He actually thinks of luck as if it were a woman, "to be softly wooed or brutally ravaged, never pandered to or pursued." This tells readers both about his romantic life and his gambling sensibilities. He likes the danger of pursuing the perfect bet and a beautiful woman, but he also isn't afraid to walk away when the odds turn against him. This prevents him from getting hurt. Up to this point he hasn't been "branded" with a disastrous experience in either, but he knows his good fortune won't last forever. Someday he will "be brought to his knees by love or by luck." Bond's acceptance of this inevitability ominously foreshadows events to come.

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