The Bourne Identity | Study Guide

Robert Ludlum

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The Bourne Identity | Book 1, Chapter 2 | Summary



Jason Bourne's amnesia has not abated, and so Dr. Geoffrey Washburn gives his patient the name "Jean-Pierre." Studying texts on brain injury and emotional stress, Washburn's diagnosis is that this injury is at once physical, emotional, and psychological. He also observes that Jean-Pierre is calm yet suppresses a barely concealed anger. He can break down and reassemble a gun, and his reflexes are excellent. Washburn expects that as he heals, Jean Pierre will react to stimuli automatically. However, he won't ever understand why he takes certain actions and acts on instincts.

Jean-Pierre runs daily in the hills of Port Noir to build his strength. The doctor has gotten him a job, a temporary berth on a trawler as a crewmember for a notoriously abusive, injured skipper. Dr. Geoffrey Washburn feels Jean-Pierre needs to test his resilience and actions under stressful conditions. If he can overcome this hurdle, he will be ready to go to Zurich and learn about the mysterious bank account. On the boat, Jean-Pierre attacks three violent crewmen, with practiced martial arts skills. The captain throws him off the crew.

Meanwhile, Washburn has gathered money and gives Jean-Pierre his own passport (they look somewhat alike). Another boat is leaving that night for Marseilles, and the captain will allow him to stow away on board. Five months after arriving in Port Noir, the mystery man leaves for an uncertain future.


For the first time, the reader sees the protagonist react on pure instinct. When Jason Bourne cuts down the bullying ship captain and his crew, it is the first indication that this is a good man, not simply a survivor. He uses martial arts, including saying "Che-sah!" with his strikes. This expression may confirm the doctor's suspicion that the patient has had some sort of training in Asia. "Jean-Pierre" is helpless in his amnesia, as vulnerable in some ways as a child, but he is a highly effective fighter.

Dr. Geoffrey Washburn's instructions to his patient are significant. Jean-Pierre needs to understand he may never overcome his injury and could receive memories in flashes and triggers. The doctor emphasizes that when Bourne feels anything, particularly pain, he should let the feelings occur and not try to stifle them. This, the doctor points out, will be difficult, but it is the only way Jean-Pierre will be able to uncover his past and regain his life.

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