Study Guide

The Bourne Identity Mortality and Death

By Robert Ludlum

Mortality and Death

The Bourne Identity isn't quite one of those body count action movies like Rambo or anything by John Woo, where the whole point is to watch the good guy shoot people till the bodies are piled up in drifts, and you measure rough justice in pints of bad guy blood.

Still, there is a lot of killing. On the one hand, this killing is bad: Carlos is an assassin killer, and that's why he's a bad guy. On the other hand, when Bourne kills, it's generally not an evil thing. It shows that he's efficient, tough, and cool. Death in The Bourne Identity is a moral event, but what kind of moral event—good, bad, or indifferent—depends on who's holding the gun, and whether he happens to be the hero.

Questions About Mortality and Death

  1. Is Bourne afraid of dying? Does fear justify all his actions?
  2. Does The Bourne Identity value life?
  3. Marie St. Jacques never kills anyone. If she did, would she be a less moral character? Does she condone Bourne's killings?

Chew on This

The Bourne Identityis kind of like afirst-person shooter video game: kills are treated as points scored rather than as moral events.

In the novel, David Webb's wife and child are killed in order to give Bourne a motivation and an excuse.