The Bourne Identity | Study Guide

Robert Ludlum

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The Bourne Identity | Book 2, Chapter 17 | Summary



Jason Bourne and Jacqueline Lavier dine at a restaurant just outside Paris. When he asks her about the "fiche confidentielle" from the bank in Zurich, she panics, realizing he knows she is part of a secret network. "We're after the same man," he tells her, posing as a representative of an international company that "Jason Bourne" has plundered. He explains to her that all efforts to kill Bourne have gone awry. Why do Lavier and her people want Bourne?

Jacqueline Lavier repeatedly demands he leave Paris. Why does he have to interfere? He tells her he wants to make things as difficult as possible for Jason Bourne, at the expense of the reputation and safety of the bankers in Zurich and Paris. If someone at Les Classiques activated the fiche, why would she not want Bourne caught? She continues to deny everything until Bourne explains he will implicate Les Classiques in a scandal. He continues pressing her, saying his group is going after Carlos. Lavier is outraged. How could they even imagine Carlos is reachable?

Finally, Bourne asks her about the connection between "Bourne" and Carlos. She responds: Bourne is Cain. For a moment the real Bourne feels cracked open, his mind and memory going to places he cannot consciously follow. "Cain is for Charlie. Delta is for Cain!" he thinks, shaking, lost. Readers do not yet understand this phrase, but Jason Bourne will repeat it to himself frequently from now on.

"Carlos will follow Cain to the ends of the earth and kill him," Lavier says. Briggs's "group" chose the wrong assassin. It doesn't matter if they know their mistake now. In paying Cain/Bourne, they earned Carlos's enmity.

It all doesn't quite make sense. Lavier continues: hiring Cain was a mistake, not only because it caused Carlos's hatred. It was a mistake because Carlos is more connected than Cain. He is also infallible. Cain will be defeated, but Carlos, never. Then she says Cain emanated from Southeast Asia and mentions the name "Medusa." Jason Bourne goes deeper into his own subconscious. Jacqueline Lavier explains Cain is American—his arrogance assures it. Bourne "remembers" Cain's kills.

According to Lavier Carlos's network received a positive identification of Cain from an informant in Washington. The Americans, she explains, are equally obsessed with Cain/Bourne. They know the two are the same man. He started in Singapore, stealing from his clients there. Then came Medusa. Cain has been an active assassin, a direct competitor with Carlos, for two years. In that time he has been everywhere, assassinating targets in different countries within days. Carlos, Lavier says, believes Cain takes credit for hits he has not made. His lies are an attempt to draw Carlos out, to make him make a mistake.

For several months Cain was inactive. He must have needed to go to ground. It would have been too difficult to maintain his pace without making more mistakes. Carlos's people lured Cain to a fishing trawler in Marseilles, and then he disappeared a few days before Ambassador Howard Leland's death. Jason Bourne and Jacqueline Lavier come to a compromise. He will not set the police on Les Classiques. She has given him all the information on Cain she can. Now his people will know to hunt down Cain.

Heart racing, Jason says to himself, "I am Cain." It is a horrifying realization.

Dinner is over and Jacqueline goes to the ladies' room. Bourne waits, reeling with his new knowledge. A flash photograph startles him, and the hostess hands him a note. Lavier took her own cab back to Paris, with a photograph of him for identification. She suspects he is Cain and has sent men to capture him.

Bourne leaves immediately for Paris. He has to see Marie—and then leave her. He never wants her to know the truth. The man she loves is Cain.


"Cain is for Charlie. Delta is for Cain!" Bourne repeats this phrase to himself many times. Is it a code or a mantra? It sounds like a nursery rhyme or nonsense—or a hypnotic trigger. Whatever its origins, the phrase is a trigger and a charge for Bourne. He can't escape it and doesn't understand its true significance. Because of his amnesia and PTSD, he also assumes that whatever he remembers must be evidence of the darkness of his past. How could someone with his knowledge and instincts possibly be good? Again, he is like a child here, jumping to a conclusion without fully understanding the many potential sides of the issue.

Jacqueline Lavier is a complex character, both the powerful mistress of a high priced and exclusive fashion house and a Carlos loyalist. It is difficult to tell why, exactly, she involves herself in the world of crime. There is no evidence of her having a political affiliation or agenda, and her participation in high fashion, a purely frivolous capitalist industry, does not match her devotion to the man who loves to sow chaos. Unfortunately, the reader never learns more about Lavier.

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