The Bourne Identity | Study Guide

Robert Ludlum

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The Bourne Identity | Book 1, Chapter 6 | Summary



Jason Bourne remembers Dr. Geoffrey Washburn's advice to him: in a stressful situation, relax and let the feelings wash over him. He is driving with Marie St. Jacques and in a tremendous amount of pain from his irritated wounds. She accuses him of kidnapping her, and he does not deny her charge. She tells him she is an economist at the Canadian government Treasury Board, Department of National Revenue. If her superiors do not hear from her, they will call the police. However, when Bourne looks through her purse he finds evidence that she is not expected anywhere until a week from now—a cablegram from a man named Peter confirms it.

As always, operating on subconscious instinct, Jason Bourne orders Marie St. Jacques back to the hotel to switch cars. She attempts to escape, and he threatens, once again, to kill her. Protesting, terrified, Marie drives him to a restaurant that he seems to know about. Drei Alpenhäuser (Three Chalets) is a traditional Swiss establishment. It would be pleasant if not for the mystery of his unknown mission.

The sight of Bourne terrifies a "fat man" sitting at the back of the room. Approaching Marie and Jason's table, he protests, "I gave you the envelope ... I know nothing!" The fat man insists police will come if Jason gives him any trouble. Interpol has put out that there is a reward as well as a no-questions-asked policy for his capture. He tells Bourne to go see a man named Chernak, who gave the fat man the envelope for Bourne. Without admitting he doesn't remember, Bourne pushes the fat man to tell him what the envelope contained. Money, the terrified man tells Bourne—enough to kill an important man six months ago.


It must be possible to retrace Jason Bourne's journey through the highs and lows of Zurich, to take a drink at a chalet restaurant, and to drive through the rundown district of the rooming house that appears in the next chapter. Later, when Marie St. Jacques and Jason Bourne escape to the countryside, Ludlum maintains a strong sense of place. This attention to setting adds verisimilitude to an unlikely story of superhuman strength and endurance. Bourne is essentially a superhero, but he lives in the real world, not Batman's Gotham City or Superman's Metropolis. Ludlum's likely readers—businessmen on trips abroad or across the country—might see these sights in their own travels or in military service overseas. Either way, the European travelogue aspect of the novel delivers a bit of ease in the midst of the breakneck narrative.

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