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Casino Royale: Chapters 14 - 18

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#1 Donovan



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Posted 07 April 2003 - 11:28 AM

The middle of the story for Casino Royale is completed. Bond's mission, on the surface, is a success. Le Chiffre is financially broken. Bond is no fool, he has ideas about Le Chiffre and his goons making a play to get the money back. But now is the time to relax. He and Vesper go to dinner, but she seems preoccupied. A rather easy trap is sprung for her and Bond gets wise to it quickly, ultimately jumping in his Bentley to pursue.

In this passage is another of my favourite Fleming descriptions: "the Amhearst Villiers supercharger dug spurs into the Bentley's twenty-five horses, and the engine sent a high-pitched scream of pain into the night."

We also get a glimpse of Bond's mind racing for ideas. For one thing, if Le Chiffre is trying to hold Vesper ransom, too bad. Bond wouldn't think of handing over 40 million in exchange for the girl's life. If she gets killed and Le Chiffre tries to frame Bond, he'll just say they had a fight and hadn't seen her. Pretty ruthless.

He falls into a trap himself as Le Chiffre causes the Bentley to break up spectacularly and Bond is knocked out. He is captured by Le Chiffre and driven with Vesper to his country home. There's no doubt that Vesper provided what has turned out to be an unfortunate distraction for Bond. After the game, he would have been better off either going to bed or being on alert for a move from Le Chiffre. Whatever he could have done, it should have involved being careful. He could have had Leiter lend assistance. But Leiter excused himself for the night because he correctly guessed that Bond wanted to be alone with Vesper. There's no reason Leiter would call to check up in the middle of the night, as Bond might not wish to be interrupted. So Bond is alone, with Vesper as an added liability. In his mind, Bond is furious with Vesper. But is he really mad at himself? Probably.

But now, survival does not seem to be an option. His goal is to tell Le Chiffre nothing. There will be another race tonight. Instead of motorcars, it will be a race between Le Chiffre getting the information he wants, and Bond dying. It doesn't take long for the torture to begin. If you want to physically (and certainly psychologically) hurt a man, it's no secret how to do so quickly with the most severe effect. Le Chiffre must be impatient because he gets down to Bond's business with a carpet beater. Repeatedly. There are no other means used. Bond takes it and Le Chiffre gets bored. So he will bring in Vesper to torture in front of Bond, after he performs some brutal surgery on him.

Just then, Bond is saved by an assassin from the Soviet Union. "SMERSH" is heard and throughout the story, we have learned about this dangerous and deadly organization. To know them intimately, as Le Chiffre does, means to fear them. Le Chiffre is killed by a single, silenced bullet to the head. Amazingly, the gunman spares Bond (of all people!) and merely cuts a symbol into the top of his hand. This has certainly been an incredibly extraordinary night.

Chapters 14 through 18 are the most disturbing. If the reader gets lulled into comfort along with Bond for the success at Baccarat, then it is a great shock to read about the vents that almost immediately unfold. The torture, in particular, is very painful to read. One almost feels that electric-shock of pain as Bond does. It reminds the reader of the brutal world of people playing "Red Indians". So these chapters, however horrifying, are necessary for the overall story.