The Bourne Identity | Study Guide

Robert Ludlum

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The Bourne Identity | Book 3, Chapter 26 | Summary



Jason Bourne and André François Villiers walk through the Bois de Boulogne, a wooded park in Paris. Bourne tells the older man everything he knows about Carlos. He doesn't mention Marie St. Jacques or his amnesia. General Villiers admits to himself that the man talking to his wife, Angélique Villiers, on the steps of his home is one of Carlos's men. He is devastated. Then he confesses: he and his wife, in many ways, live separate lives. This is what happens when an old man falls in love with such a young and vivacious woman. He hopes she has been true to him but doubts it now.

André François Villiers knows almost as much as Jason Bourne knows about Carlos's killing methods. However, Villiers has had access to secret files about Carlos's other activities, which include selling state secrets, often of a nuclear or military nature. Because of his position, the general has access to many files. When he brings them home, he locks them in his office vault. His wife is the only other person with a key to the vault. Now he sees that she could have been passing this information to Carlos. She was in Marseilles at the time of Ambassador Howard Leland's assassination. His wife must be Carlos's lover. He will kill her. But not before she confesses.

The two men make a plan. Villiers will return home, and Jason will lure the various Les Classiques informants as a means to interrupt Carlos's communications and draw him out. Bourne explains that Marie will be involved in the setup. The trap is set.


So-called May/December romances between a younger woman and an older man are a stock element of genre fiction. They are a ready-made source of conflict, suspicion, and other dramatic conventions useful to thriller writers. Even so, the "cuckolded" André François Villiers's bloodlust and unexamined desire to murder his wife as a revenge/honor killing can appear to be dubiously motivated. Here the reader can see that an abuse of power by high-ranking government officials and/or politicians is not specific to characters such as those at the Pentagon or CIA. Ludlum makes it clear that corruption and abuse of power happen in France, too.

That the "secret" issues of France would revolve around nuclear armament, with no connection to the relations between the "native" French and Muslim immigrants, is fascinating. The Algerian War (1945–1962) is now regarded as one of the fuels for the rise of radical Islam. The French committed atrocities on a people they had colonized and abused. Carlos, though violent and devastating, is at least understandable to contemporary readers in the context of pure ego, greed, and drive for chaos and power—negative traits that are apolitical and universal. Whereas General Villiers's "Vive La France" nationalism will likely have a different effect on the contemporary reader than what was intended.

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