The Bourne Identity | Study Guide

Robert Ludlum

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The Bourne Identity | Book 3, Chapter 23 | Summary

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Summary

Jason Bourne, at the front desk of his hotel on the outskirts of Paris, demands to rent a car. For a hefty fee, the clerk lends him his own vehicle. In this small Renault Jason and Marie St. Jacques drive to a country road and pull over, and he tells her what he is certain is the truth. He is Cain, a master assassin—a killer.

Marie still doesn't believe the man she loves is that man. He says he will turn himself in. She argues "Cain" would never do such an unselfish thing; he cannot be Cain. Perhaps, St. Jacques thinks, he has been brainwashed into thinking he is Cain. If so—and he protests vehemently—then his triggers, the memories that send him into such fear and frenzy, might be false as well. While Jason disagrees with her, he wants to finally find the truth. The only place he thinks it will be available is in New York City at Treadstone Seventy-One. They go back to Paris and spend a passionate night together, but each feels it may be their last.

The next morning they try to call the number from Jacqueline Lavier's desk. It's a Zurich call, and it has been disconnected. They reach another pay phone, another try. This time Marie is shocked by the answer and abruptly hangs up. "I just reached the house of one of the most respected and powerful men in France," she tells Jason.

Analysis

In 1980 the microchip hadn't yet been invented. Contemporary paranoia is technological. A current novel might imagine Jason Bourne's memories erased by an implanted microchip. The Manchurian Candidate, a suspense thriller with a brainwashed protagonist who is turned into a spy, was a film from 1962, but it still felt relevant and fresh in the 1970s. What if you could brainwash people? Many Vietnam vets had what would now be called PTSD, but the diagnosis wasn't named in the DSM-III until the 1980s. Marie St. Jacques, as brilliant as she is, is really grasping at straws when she suggests Jason's identity could be completely created and the result of trauma. However, the author's understanding of the psychological aftermath of violence is ahead of his time.

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