The Spy Who Came in From the Cold | Study Guide

John le Carré

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The Spy Who Came in From the Cold | Chapter 16 : Arrest | Summary



Fiedler and Alec Leamas drive back to the house in the forest. As they walk toward the building, three men greet them. The men say they are from Berlin. Fiedler seems suspicious, noticing that the lights in the hall are out. Leamas enters the house and heads to the annex behind it. He enters the guards' room, which is across from his bedroom. The door closes, making the room dark. Leamas hears the door to his room open. He prepares a makeshift weapon by crushing a box of wooden matches. He places a chair in front of the closed door. The door opens and a man enters, stumbling over the chair. Leamas drives the sharp, broken matches into the man's neck. The light goes on. A police captain stands in the doorway with two men behind him. Leamas is knocked unconscious. He wakes up in a prison cell with his hands and feet tied together behind his back. When Leamas tries to straighten his legs, he feels excruciating pain. He lies there for hours. Finally, the door opens, and Mundt enters.


In Chapter 16, le Carré focuses on how deception can lead to brutality. Three men have come to the annex. Fiedler and Leamas suspect they have been deceived. Because of this deception, Leamas has been thrust into a precarious situation. He doesn't know why these men have come, but he doesn't trust them. As a result, he feels he must fend for himself to survive, so he ends up committing a brutal act by killing a guard.

Leamas is also placed in a physically and psychologically brutal situation in prison as a result of his espionage activities. The pain of his body reflects how his soul has been tortured by his involvement in the Cold War. Leamas's cry of pain is "like the last cry of a man upon the rack." Also, the description of the prison cell reflects many aspects of the Cold War. The cell is cold and harsh with whitewashed walls and a large, clinical light. In the Cold War, each side has a severe approach that does not allow for any warmth or human affection. In addition, each side tries to whitewash its actions to cover up any faults and uses a clinical type of analysis to detect any weakness in the enemy.

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