The Bourne Identity | Study Guide

Robert Ludlum

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The Bourne Identity | Book 2, Chapter 20 | Summary

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Summary

The setting is still New York. This time, however, the narrative begins outside of Treadstone Seventy-One, looking in. Alfred Gillette, who the reader has met before—he's the director of Personnel Screening for the National Security Council—is talking to a man with a Slavic accent, called the European. Alfred Gillette is gloating about being there for the collapse of the great David Abbott, whom he calls "superior, self-inflated." His European companion calls him bitter and too emotional. It seems Gillette is working for this man, who is decidedly not part of the National Security Council of the United States. He is working for Carlos. Therefore, so is Gillette.

They wait for David Abbott to leave Treadstone. As he walks down the steps, he looks for his cab, which the European sent away. Soon, he is in the car with Gillette and realizes he has been betrayed. They spar, Gillette accusing the older man of losing control of his operation and Abbott barely able to conceal his fury. Finally, goaded, the Monk admits the truth: "We're not even sure it is Bourne."

Gillette and the car's chauffeur have been waiting for this evidence. Now Carlos's man turns on Gillette, killing him at gunpoint in front of Abbott. The Monk is unfazed—even when he hears confirmation it is Bourne in Europe and even when the chauffeur reveals Carlos knows the name "Bourne" is a fake. The real Bourne died in the jungles of Tam Quan in 1968, executed by the man who now bears his name. The Monk tries to attack, but it is too late. Soon enough, he is also dead.

Then the worst happens. As Elliot Stevens leaves Treadstone Seventy-One, the European shoots him. He and the chauffeur work as a team, executing each person in turn. The European blows the security cameras and shoots the woman inside the brownstone. Lastly, he reaches Major Gordon Webb, who is still in the back room reading files. Together, they drag Abbott's body from the car into the back room. Gillette will be dumped in a swamp.

The European gathers every piece of classified paper he can find in the back room. He arranges all four bodies in the house, in position, setting up his crime scene. As a final touch, he breaks a glass and transfers a single fingerprint on to one of the shards. It is Jason Bourne's. It is almost the end for the man with no memory.

Analysis

This is perhaps the saddest chapter of The Bourne Identity. Yes, the novel's body count has been high enough already. What is so significant about a few more corpses? The disturbance here, however, has less to do with the violence and is more significant in terms of how it shows the American experiment gone so far awry. Sister Meg and Mikhailovich (a.k.a. the Yachtsman), the permanent residents of Treadstone Seventy-One, are old-school spies right out of a Graham Greene novel about World War II. They're anachronisms in this new world order where Alfred Gillette, a member of the NSC, the organization that oversees cryptology and military security, would become so compromised. This chapter also contains the death of David Abbott, Bourne's mentor and friend, and Bourne's brother, Major Gordon Webb. The reader will never learn much more about his relationships with these two men, but it is fair to assume their loss will be devastating when he understands it. They hold his past, his stories, and, in turn, his future.

On a plot level, it is not yet clear why the European chooses to plant Bourne's fingerprint at the scene of the crime (though the low-tech scotch tape transfer method is impressive). However, planting Bourne at Treadstone Seventy-One muddies that water for anyone hoping he is not a killer—Bourne himself included.

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