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 4 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Finally, the Labour Exchange finds Leamas a job at a Library for Psychic Research. Leamas thinks that he knows Mr. Pitt, the man at the Labour Exchange, from the Circus during the World War II. At the library, he works for a woman named Miss Crail. His coworker is a tall Jewish woman in her early twenties named Liz Gold. She gives him a friendly greeting. On his first day, Leamas goes to a pub and a grocery store during his lunch break. He comes back smelling like whisky and leaves his grocery bags in the corner, infuriating the controlling Miss Crail. From then on, Miss Crail despises him.
Leamas once again comes across something mysterious and unexplained when he believes he recognizes Mr. Pitt. Although he is no longer interacting with anyone from the Circus as he plays the role of the irresponsible drunk, there are hints that the Circus may be pulling strings around him in ways he does not notice or understand. If Leamas is right that he recognizes Mr. Pitt, this suggests that Mr. Pitt was planted in the Labour Exchange by the Circus to ensure that Leamas got a specific job. Leamas does not give this too much thought, but readers are clearly meant to take notice.
Themes
Identity and Autonomy Theme Icon
After a few weeks, Liz invites Leamas to supper at her house. He is reluctant to go, but does. After that she invites him frequently, although he speaks little. Liz senses that there is something wrong with Leamas and tells him she knows he will leave at some point and she will never see him again. She says that she knows this and promises not to follow him. He looks at her and says that he will tell her when he is going to leave.
The relationship between Liz and Leamas grows despite his belief that a spy should steer clear of close relationships with people to avoid compromising the mission. Liz senses that there is something Leamas is hiding, but when he responds by promising to let her know when he is about to disappear, he breaks his cover for a moment—a crucial mistake that will come to haunt them both later.
Themes
Alienation and Connection  Theme Icon
Identity and Autonomy Theme Icon
One night, Liz asks Leamas what he believes in. He puts her off, saying he does not like “conversations about Life.” When she persists, he begins to get angry. She says that she can tell that he is secretly some kind of fanatic or someone who has sworn vengeance. He tells her to mind her own business, but then asks her what she believes. She says she believes in History. Laughing, he asks if she is a Communist. Liz admits that she is, and that night they become lovers. When Leamas leaves at five in the morning, a plump man in a raincoat is standing near Liz’s house, but he disappears as Leamas approaches.
Liz is dedicated to the socialist ideology which says that history is a progression towards a better, fairer, more peaceful society. Leamas is failing to completely resist Liz’s attempts to get to know him, but she still doesn’t understand his secret, only that he has one. Meanwhile, the man watching for Leamas to leave Liz’s apartment is another signal that Leamas’s moves are being tracked, or controlled, in ways he does not know about.
Themes
Ideology and Morality Theme Icon
Alienation and Connection  Theme Icon
Identity and Autonomy Theme Icon
Loyalty and Betrayal Theme Icon
Elites and Others Theme Icon
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