The Bourne Identity | Study Guide

Robert Ludlum

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The Bourne Identity | Book 1, Chapter 3 | Summary



The ship's captain tells Jean-Pierre (who is actually Jason Bourne but doesn't remember) where he can get a satisfactory forged passport in Marseilles. Unfortunately, it will take most of the money Dr. Geoffrey Washburn gave him. As an illegal alien and stowaway, he swims to the beach from the boat. Jean-Pierre is pleased with himself at this accomplishment. Somehow, he knows how to take care of himself during extreme circumstances. Meanwhile, he needs cash.

Strolling into a butcher shop, Jean-Pierre impersonates a rich yacht owner, ordering a king's ransom of a meat order. Then he asks the butcher details about the local Marquis de Chamford, who, the butcher mentions, is drunk in the tavern next door, waiting for a prostitute.

A short while after the marquis and his woman head upstairs, Jean-Pierre surprises them in flagrante delicto, robbing the marquis of his fine clothes, wallet stuffed with francs, gold wristwatch, and car keys. He leaves the nobleman and the prostitute naked and trapped in their room. He reflects on what Washburn had said to him, "You are not helpless. You will find your way." Washburn was right, and Jean-Pierre has even shocked himself.

After driving into Marseilles in the stolen Jaguar, he sells the car, hocks the watch, and outfits himself with unassuming clothes and a suitcase. He meets the captain at a cafe and buys himself a fake passport, to be ready by the next morning.

However, as Jean-Pierre exits the cafe, a man stops and, in horror, screams, "You're dead!" Then the man brandishes a knife. The amnesiac reacts with precision, cutting his opponent down with a karate chop. Someone who "wanted him dead" knows he is alive.


The pace is now truly set. There will be characters that readers never see again after the protagonist has made use of them, such as the ship captain and the Marquis de Chamford. There will also be surprises and abrupt, action-packed scenes. For example, the knife-brandishing man appears with no introduction or explanation.

While it is not the most important aspect of this chapter, readers will note that "the prostitute" doesn't have a name, nor does Ludlum seem to worry much about her destiny. The women of The Bourne Identity will be more bodies than fully developed characters, with one notable exception. Though Ludlum published the novel in 1980, well after the second wave of feminism, his sensibilities were those of an earlier generation. In the 2002 film of the novel, there are many more female characters with much greater responsibilities.

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