Lies and deceit are usually thought of as bad things perpetrated by bad people. And to some extent, that's the case in The Bourne Identity. The bad guy, Carlos, has secret identities and lies to just about everyone—even (especially) his minions. He promises them riches and loyalty and then, frequently, offs them.
But as tricky and deceptive as Carlos is, Bourne is even more so. He's got secret identity upon secret identity himself. He's also, moreover, a lying liar who lies a lot: he's able to convince fashionistas that he's a high-powered buyer, and he's able to convince moving men that he's just a regular Joe. And all that lying isn't really presented as evil: it's presented as cool, or even as fun, exhilarating, and funny (see our "Fashion" entry in the "Symbols" section).
Lies are the mark of evil, but they're also the mark of fiction, and the novel appreciates Bourne's ability to spin a good yarn at least as much as it condemns Carlos's deceptions.
Questions About Lies and Deceit
- Is there anyone in the novel who is entirely honest all the way through?
- Is telling a good lie an admirable thing in the novel? Is Carlos's ability to deceive seen as admirable?
- Is anyone in the book destroyed by their lies? Is Bourne?
Chew on This
Jason Bourne's truest identity is that of a liar.
In The Bourne Identity, lies are power: the person who tells the best ones wins.