The Spy Who Came in From the Cold

by

John Le Carré

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The Spy Who Came in From the Cold: Chapter 17 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Leamas is untied and tries to stand but cannot. A guard kicks him, and then Leamas attacks the guard. The guard is about to kick Leamas again when Mundt tells him to bring Leamas into the other room. Mundt gives Leamas water and orders a guard to bring him food. Leamas asks where Fiedler is, and Mundt tells him that he is under arrest for “conspiring to sabotage the security of the people.” Leamas asks Mundt if he is being accused of having been sent by the Circus to frame Mundt, and Mundt assents. Mundt is extremely self-confident, and never speaks to fill awkward silences. He is athletic-looking with a cold manner, and Leamas can easily imagine him murdering someone.
Mundt allows the guard to kick Leamas once and then stops him from kicking him again, asserting that he has full control over Leamas now. Even without this pointed gesture, Leamas instantly senses from Mundt’s way of carrying himself that Mundt is used to being in control of other people and views himself as superior. Leamas can imagine Mundt killing someone because he can see that Mundt would easily be able to separate that person into a different, less-human category.
Themes
Alienation and Connection  Theme Icon
Elites and Others Theme Icon
Related Quotes
Mundt tells Leamas that he will be charged with murdering the guard at the lodge. If Leamas wants the court to go easy on him, he will have to confess to having been sent by the Circus to frame Mundt with Fiedler’s help. The court will then look at his case sympathetically and consider that he was blackmailed by the Circus, which had accused him of stealing money. Leamas asks Mundt how he knows about the accusation that he had stolen money, but Mundt doesn’t answer. Instead, Mundt remarks that Fiedler hates him so much that he stupidly tried to frame him. Mundt says he could see from Peters’ report that Leamas had been sent by London to frame him. Then, when he asked Fiedler for his report, Fiedler sent it to the other members of the Praesidium, but not to Mundt, and Mundt was sure he was right.
The story about Leamas stealing money from the Banking Department was disseminated throughout the Circus to give a plausible explanation for Leamas’s sudden departure from the organization. Other parts of the plan – like Leamas punching Ford the grocer – were meant to be discovered by Communist agents who the Circus thought would be tracking Leamas in the hopes that he would defect. To Leamas, this represents another way in which events have diverged from the agreed-to plan.
Themes
Identity and Autonomy Theme Icon
Loyalty and Betrayal Theme Icon
Elites and Others Theme Icon
Mundt asks Leamas when he last saw Smiley. Leamas says he cannot remember, but Mundt persists, asking him again and again. Mundt asks Leamas where he went after his lunch with Ashe, but Leamas says he cannot remember, and begs to be allowed to go lie down, saying he is sick. Mundt asks Leamas why he tried to shake off his followers. Leamas answers nothing, only breathing heavily and in intense pain. Suddenly the room fills with people and shouting, and Leamas is carried away. He wakes up in a hospital, with Fiedler standing at the foot of his bed.
Leamas fears that he has been caught by Mundt and will never be released. He does not understand why Mundt keeps asking him when the last time he saw Smiley was, and this only makes him more confused and apprehensive. It does not occur to Leamas that Mundt is using this question to stall for time. It later turns out that Mundt knows during this interrogation that he will soon be arrested and Leamas will be returned to Fiedler, and that this is exactly what he hopes to happen.
Themes
Loyalty and Betrayal Theme Icon