Study Guide

The Bourne Identity Women and Femininity

By Robert Ludlum

Women and Femininity

The Bourne Identity is mostly about dudes shooting each other. All the testosterone results in…well, let's say in a complex relationship with its female characters.

Marie St. Jacques is a good example of this complexity. She's the main female protagonist, and she's introduced through a long, abusive kidnapping sequence; she's then raped; and then she falls in love with her (initial) kidnapper. Bourne's rescue of Marie is supposed to erase and cancel out his initial violence—but does it? Or is the violence supposed to be part of the attraction? The book struggles to present Marie as a competent and strong woman, but do we ever forget her initial role as a victim? How does she fit into the novel as a whole? How do the other women?

Questions About Women and Femininity

  1. How many important female characters are there in the book? How does this compare to the number of male characters? What effect does this have on the story and themes?
  2. How is female deception in the novel treated differently from male deception?
  3. Is Marie St. Jacques' job as important to her as Bourne's is to him? Does this fit with traditional gender roles? Explain your answer.

Chew on This

Bourne has lots of surrogate fathers, but no surrogate mothers.

Femininity is important in the novel because there is so little of it.