Study Guide

The Bourne Identity Strength and Skill

By Robert Ludlum

Strength and Skill

Spy stories love competence and skill. They love super-agents who out-fight and out-think and out-deceive with such precision and élan that their adversaries can only gape in wonder. And also die.

A lot of the fun inThe Bourne Identity comes from watching the nefarious efficiency with which Carlos's plots ravel—and and the cunningly virtuous efficiency with which Bourne unravels them. It's the same pleasure you get from the outsized powers of superhero battles: it's like watching Wolverine bash Magneto, and vice-versa, except in this case, it's all about battling brains rather than death rays.

Well, it's mostly about battling brains. There are some hand-to-hand combat and gun battles, too.

Questions About Strength and Skill

  1. Are professionalism and virtue the same thing in The Bourne Identity?
  2. What are Marie St. Jacques's skills? Why are they important in the novel?
  3. Who is a more skillful spy, Bourne or Carlos?

Chew on This

Bourne's super-skills are, and are meant to be, completely unbelievable.

The novel's enthusiasm for Bourne's strength and skill ends up as a glorification of force and violence.