The Spy Who Came in From the Cold

by

John Le Carré

Teachers and parents! Struggling with distance learning? Our Teacher Edition on The Spy Who Came in From the Cold can help.

The Spy Who Came in From the Cold: Chapter 24 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Liz is in an office in the prison. The Prison Wardress gives her food, but Liz is too exhausted and overwhelmed to eat. Liz asks where she is, and the wardress tells her she is in a prison for enemies of the state. The wardress says that to create a Communist society, they must do away with individualism. This is a prison for counter-revolutionary intellectuals.
While Liz’s experience in the courtroom was bleak, it was also incomprehensible. In her conversation with the Wardress, Liz sees the depths of cruelty that being an “ideologically pure” Communist can drive people to.
Themes
Ideology and Morality Theme Icon
Liz asks who will be shot next, and the Prison Wardress says that Leamas and the Jew Fiedler will be executed. She says Leamas will be shot because he killed a guard, and Fiedler because he accused a loyal comrade. She continues, saying that Mundt knows what to do with Jews. Then she eats the food that Liz could not eat. Liz cannot stop thinking about Leamas averting his eyes from her. She feels she failed him, but does not know how she could have acted differently. She also feels guilty that she seems to have caused Fiedler’s death, although she feels comforted to know that Leamas and Fiedler are on the same side. Liz asks the wardress why they are waiting, and the wardress answers that it is to see whether she must stay. The phone rings, and the wardress tells Liz that Mundt has ordered that she stay in the prison. The Wardress takes Liz to a prison cell.
Liz struggles to accept how little control she has had over her role in the events of the Tribunal. She still does not understand what the Tribunal was about, but she is wracked by feelings of guilt. She was too ignorant of the situation to act differently in a way that would have been loyal to Leamas, but she still feels that the effect of her actions was a betrayal both of Leamas and of a fellow Jew, Fiedler. She also sees that, although the Wardress sees herself as devoted to the Communist ideology, she is perfectly willing to express anti-Semitic views. Liz is learning that the society she believed to be ideal is far from it.
Themes
Ideology and Morality Theme Icon
Identity and Autonomy Theme Icon
Loyalty and Betrayal Theme Icon
Elites and Others Theme Icon
Related Quotes
In the middle of the night, footsteps approach Liz’s cell. Mundt is in the corridor, and he tells Liz to come with him. Liz is terrified, and he takes her arm and roughly escorts her out of the prison. It seems to Liz as if he is trying to move through the prison undetected. They exit into a garden and she sees Leamas standing by a car. Mundt talks to Leamas, then leads Liz to him. “She’s trash, like Fiedler,” are Mundt’s last words to them before he walks away.
Liz fears she is about to be killed or tortured by the anti-Semitic Mundt, but he is actually delivering her to Leamas and (at least temporary) safety. Because he is an agent of the Circus, he is under orders to oversee Leamas’s escape, and Leamas is obviously too loyal to Liz to leave without her.
Themes
Identity and Autonomy Theme Icon
Loyalty and Betrayal Theme Icon
Elites and Others Theme Icon
Leamas tells Liz to get into the car, and starts driving. Liz asks why Mundt is letting them go, since they are enemies. Leamas says they need to reach Berlin in five hours. Liz asks what will happen to Fiedler, and Leamas says he will be shot. Liz continues asking questions, and finally Leamas bursts out with an explanation. He tells her that Mundt is a British agent, and that Leamas had been sent on this operation to remove the one person who was beginning to suspect the truth: Fiedler.
Leamas’s gruffness conceals his humiliation and heartbreak at having been deceived by the Circus and used to take down Fiedler, a man who had pledged to look after him. Adding to this humiliation, Leamas earnestly despises Mundt for murdering all his agents and he is ashamed to admit to Liz that he has been unwittingly working to save Mundt and kill Fiedler all along.
Themes
Identity and Autonomy Theme Icon
Loyalty and Betrayal Theme Icon
Get the entire The Spy Who Came in From the Cold LitChart as a printable PDF.
The Spy Who Came in From the Cold PDF