You Only Live Twice Study Guide

You Only Live Twice

You Only Live Twice by Ian Fleming

After the wedding-day murder of his wife, Tracy (see On Her Majesty's Secret Service) , Bond begins to let his life slide, drinking and gambling heavily, making mistakes and turning up late for work. His superior in the Secret Service, M, had been planning to dismiss Bond, but decides to give him a last-chance opportunity to redeem himself by assigning him to the diplomatic branch of the organisation. Bond is subsequently re-numbered 7777 and handed an "impossible" mission: convincing the head of Japan's secret intelligence service, Tiger Tanaka, to provide Britain with information from radio transmissions captured from the Soviet Union, codenamed Magic 44 . In exchange, the Secret Service will allow the Japanese access to one of their own information sources.

Bond is introduced to Tanaka—and to the Japanese lifestyle—by an Australian intelligence officer, Dikko Henderson. When Bond raises the purpose of his mission with Tanaka, it transpires that the Japanese have already penetrated the British information source and Bond has nothing left to bargain with. Instead, Tanaka asks Bond to kill Dr. Guntram Shatterhand, who operates a politically embarrassing "Garden of Death" in an ancient castle; people flock there to commit suicide. After examining photos of Shatterhand and his wife, Bond discovers that "Shatterhand" and his wife are Tracy's murderers, Ernst Stavro Blofeld and Irma Bunt. Bond gladly takes the mission, keeping his knowledge of Blofeld's identity a secret so that he can exact revenge for his wife's death. Made up and trained by Tanaka, and aided by former Japanese film star Kissy Suzuki, Bond attempts to live and think as a mute Japanese coal miner in order to penetrate Shatterhand's castle. Tanaka renames Bond "Taro Todoroki" for the mission.

After infiltrating the Garden of Death and the castle where Blofeld spends his time dressed in the costume of a Samurai warrior, Bond is captured and Bunt identifies him as a British secret agent and not a Japanese coal miner. After surviving a near execution, Bond exacts revenge on Blofeld in a duel, Blofeld armed with a sword and Bond with a wooden staff. Bond eventually kills Blofeld by strangling him, then blows up the castle. Upon escaping, he suffers a head injury, leaving him an amnesiac living as a Japanese fisherman with Kissy, while the rest of the world believes him dead; his obituary appears in the newspapers.

While Bond's health improves, Kissy conceals his true identity to keep him forever to herself. Kissy eventually sleeps with Bond and becomes pregnant, and hopes that Bond will propose marriage after she finds the right time to tell him about her pregnancy. Bond reads scraps of newspaper and fixates on a reference to Vladivostok, making him wonder if the far-off city is the key to his missing memory; he tells Kissy he must travel to Russia to find out.

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