The Spy Who Came in From the Cold


John Le Carré

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The Spy Who Came in From the Cold: Chapter 19 Summary & Analysis

Liz enjoys her trip to Leipzig. She stays with a Branch Secretary named Frau Ebert. Food is scarce, which makes Liz feel like she is sacrificing something to help others. They do work organizing for several days, leading up to the Branch Meeting, which is supposed to be a discussion of “Coexistence after two wars.” Liz expects a large turnout, and is crushed when only seven people attend. She wonders if Leamas is right that people only believe in things because of a personal need for meaning, but reminds herself of the Communist principles she believes in.
Liz feels set apart in England by her Communism. In Leipzig, she wants to feel that she is finally in a place where people share her beliefs. She takes the shortage of food as a sign that everyone is making sacrifices so that resources can be shared equally. The low attendance at the discussion group suggests to her that people are not actually invested in what she says, and that her belief in Communist principles is inconsequential.
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The meeting’s speaker leaves before the general discussion, which Liz finds rude. At the end of the meeting, a man appears and asks for her. He shows Frau Ebert a piece of paper, then introduces himself as Holten from District Committee, a higher level in the Party organization than the Branch. Holten says that Liz has been invited to a special meeting as a gesture of goodwill. Liz looks to Frau Ebert, who she does not want to offend, but Frau Ebert says she should go. Holten says they must leave tonight, and will stop at Frau Ebert’s to collect Liz’s belongings. They will then drive to Gorlitz, which is near the Polish border. As Liz gets into the car, she reflects that it has a military look to it.
Liz continues to push aside her concern about the odd circumstances involving her invitation to Leipzig. It does not occur to her that only seven people attended the meeting because it was planned as a decoy, to keep her from suspecting that there is some other reason why she was summoned to East Germany. Although she knows something strange is afoot, she wants very badly not to become disillusioned with the Communist Party, and so allows herself to be carried away by Holten.
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