The Bourne Identity | Study Guide

Robert Ludlum

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The Bourne Identity | Book 1, Chapter 7 | Summary

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Summary

As they head to find Chernak, Jason is silent, ruminating on the knowledge that he apparently received payment to kill a man. He and Marie St. Jacques are in a new neighborhood, yet Bourne feels a pull of recognition. He forces Marie to accompany him into a boarding house. The man who answers the door is in a wheelchair, a double amputee. Terrified, he insists to Bourne he is just a middleman. Then Bourne looks around his apartment and notices photos showing a young Chernak as a guard at Dachau. A Nazi. And he has a gun! He shoots Bourne twice, screaming, "[Carlos]'ll pay for your corpse!" Jason kills him.

Dragging the hysterical Marie St. Jacques down the stairs and out of the building, Bourne forces her back into the car and orders her to drive. Once again she tries to escape. She runs out of the car and screams for the police. Men in a car stop and tell her they are with the police. She tells them Jason is a few blocks away and that he killed the "crippled old man," Chernak.

The narrative shifts back to Jason Bourne. He has found a room in a boarding house and is in pain, frozen—as Dr. Geoffrey Washburn warned he might be—with panic. Talking himself down, he tries to remember what could be important. Chernak's words come back to him: Carlos will pay for his corpse.

Meanwhile, Marie is with the "police." She recognizes the man in the gold-rimmed glasses, who she knows from the chase at the Carillon du Lac hotel. He was never in pursuit of her, he says, nor was she ever in danger from him and his men. Marie tells him everything she knows about Bourne: where she left him, the model of car he was driving, the details of his latest wounds.

The man in the gold-rimmed glasses tells Marie Bourne is a brutal killer. They have been hunting him for years. She mentions Bourne seemed to imply he was headed next for a rundown boarding house in the Steppdeckstrasse neighborhood. Off they go.

Analysis

This is the first mention of a political past for any of the characters. Chernak is a Nazi, a member of the ultimate European evil. Until this point it is unclear to the reader if Jason Bourne himself is a "good guy" or a "bad guy." However, his reaction to the photo of Chernak at Dachau places him squarely on the "good" side. Chernak is also the first person Bourne kills, and because he is a Nazi, the reader can assume his death is acceptable and justified. This relatively short episode exemplifies the book's themes of morality and violence. Is violence justified when it is also against a Nazi? Ludlum's own history plays into this. He tried to enlist to fight in World War II but was too young. Though he ended up serving in the U.S. Marine Corps after the war, he never had a chance to fight the real bad guys.

Another point of note: when Marie St. Jacques is alone with the men in the car, it is the first point of view change since after Jason Bourne was pulled unconscious from the sea. It is refreshing for the reader to have this break of a few minutes with Marie, even if they know her relief at her safety is unjustified.

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