The Spy Who Came in From the Cold

by

John Le Carré

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The head of the British secret service, or “the Circus,” Control is a member of the upper class, whose polite and banal manner conceals his deep cynicism and manipulative intelligence. Control convinces Leamas, who he sees as expendable, to go on a mission to frame Mundt. In fact, Control wants Leamas to be brought to trial and discredited in East Germany in order to protect Mundt and discredit Fiedler.

Control Quotes in The Spy Who Came in From the Cold

The The Spy Who Came in From the Cold quotes below are all either spoken by Control or refer to Control. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Ideology and Morality Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Penguin Books edition of The Spy Who Came in From the Cold published in 2013.
Chapter 1 Quotes

That damned woman, thought Leamas, and that fool Karl who'd lied about her. Lied by omission, as they all do, agents the world over. You teach them to cheat, to cover their tracks, and they cheat you as well. He'd only produced her once, after that dinner in the Schürzstrasse last year. Karl had just had his big scoop and Control had wanted to meet him. Control always came in on success. They'd had dinner together—Leamas, Control, and Karl. Karl loved that kind of thing. He turned up looking like a Sunday School boy, scrubbed and shining, doffing his hat and all respectful. Control had shaken his hand for five minutes and said: "I want you to know how pleased we are, Karl, damn pleased." Leamas had watched and thought, "That'll cost us another couple of hundred a year." When they'd finished dinner Control pumped their hands again, nodded significantly and implying that he had to go off and risk his life somewhere else, got back into his chauffeur-driven car.

Related Characters: Alec Leamas, Karl Riemeck, Control, Elvira
Page Number: 6
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 2 Quotes

"I wondered whether you were tired. Burnt out." There was a long silence.
"That's up to you," Leamas said at last.
"We have to live without sympathy, don’t we? That's impossible of course. We act it to one another, all this hardness; but we aren't like that really, I mean. . . one can't be out in the cold all the time; one has to come in from the cold. . . d'you see what I mean?"
Leamas saw. He saw the long road outside Rotterdam, the long straight road beside the dunes, and the stream of refugees moving along it; saw the little aeroplane miles away, the procession stop and look towards it; and the plane coming in, nearly over the dunes; saw the chaos, the meaningless hell, as the bombs hit the road.

Related Characters: Alec Leamas, Control
Related Symbols: The Cold, World War II
Page Number: 15
Explanation and Analysis:

"Thus we do disagreeable things, but we are defensive. That, I think, is still fair. We do disagreeable things so that ordinary people here and elsewhere can sleep safely in their beds at night. Is that too romantic? Of course, we occasionally do very wicked things"; he grinned like a schoolboy. “And in weighing up the moralities, we rather go in for dishonest comparisons; after all, you can't compare the ideals of one side with the methods of the other, can you, now?”
Leamas was lost. He'd heard the man talked a lot of drivel before getting the knife in, but he'd never heard anything like this before.
"I mean you've got to compare method with method, and ideal with ideal. I would say that since the war, our methods—ours and those of the opposition—have become much the same. I mean you can't be less ruthless than the opposition simply because your government's policy is benevolent, can you now?"

Related Characters: Control (speaker), Alec Leamas
Page Number: 15-16
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 6 Quotes

"How very distressing; and nobody to look after you, of course."
There was a very long silence.
"You know she's in the Party, don't you?" Control asked quietly.
"Yes," Leamas replied. Another silence. "I don't want her brought into this."
"Why should she be?" Control asked sharply and for a moment, just for a moment, Leamas thought he had penetrated the veneer of academic detachment. "Who suggested she should be?"
"No one," Leamas replied, "I'm just making the point. I know how these things go—all offensive operations. They have by-products, take sudden turns in unexpected directions. You think you've caught one fish and you find you've caught another. I want her kept clear of it."
"Oh, quite, quite."
"Who's that man in the Labour Exchange—Pitt? Wasn't he in the Circus during the war?"
"I know no one of that name. Pitt, did you say?"
“Yes.”
"No, not a name to me. In the Labour Exchange?"
"Oh, for God's sake," Leamas muttered audibly.

Related Characters: Alec Leamas (speaker), Control (speaker), Liz Gold, Mr. Pitt
Page Number: 48-49
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 10 Quotes

This wasn't part of the bargain; this was different. What the hell was he supposed to do? By pulling out now; by refusing to go along with Peters, he was wrecking the operation. It was just possible that Peters was lying, that this was the test—all the more reason that he should agree to go. But if he went, if he agreed to go east, to Poland, Czechoslovakia, or God knows where, there was no good reason why they should ever let him out—there was no good reason (since he was notionally a wanted man in the West) why he should want to be let out.
Control had done it—he was sure. The terms had been too generous, he'd known that all along. They didn't throw money about like that for nothing—not unless they thought they might lose you. Money like that was a douceur for discomfort and dangers Control would not openly admit to. Money like that was a warning; Leamas had not heeded the warning.

Related Characters: Alec Leamas, Control, Peters
Page Number: 93
Explanation and Analysis:
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Control Character Timeline in The Spy Who Came in From the Cold

The timeline below shows where the character Control appears in The Spy Who Came in From the Cold. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 1: Checkpoint
Alienation and Connection  Theme Icon
Identity and Autonomy Theme Icon
Loyalty and Betrayal Theme Icon
Elites and Others Theme Icon
...first discovered that Riemeck had confided in Elvira. Riemeck had had a huge success and Control had come to Berlin to meet him. At a bar, afterwards Riemeck had introduced Leamas... (full context)
Chapter 2: The Circus
Loyalty and Betrayal Theme Icon
Elites and Others Theme Icon
...he is going to be fired, but Fawley says he should wait to hear from Control (the head of the British secret service). (full context)
Alienation and Connection  Theme Icon
Elites and Others Theme Icon
At the Cambridge “Circus,” headquarters for the British spy service, Leamas meets with Control. Control is courteous and complains about banal topics like the cold and the secretaries. Control... (full context)
Ideology and Morality Theme Icon
Control says he wants Leamas to “stay out in the cold a little longer,” and then... (full context)
Ideology and Morality Theme Icon
Identity and Autonomy Theme Icon
Loyalty and Betrayal Theme Icon
Finally, Control gets to the point: he wants Leamas to stay “out in the cold” to help... (full context)
Alienation and Connection  Theme Icon
Identity and Autonomy Theme Icon
Loyalty and Betrayal Theme Icon
Control asks Leamas again if he is not too exhausted to take on the mission. Leamas... (full context)
Chapter 6: Contact
Identity and Autonomy Theme Icon
...name to the driver as “Mr. Amies.” When he is dropped off at King’s Road, Control opens the door. He tells Leamas that Smiley is out. Leamas tells him he was... (full context)
Ideology and Morality Theme Icon
Alienation and Connection  Theme Icon
Identity and Autonomy Theme Icon
Loyalty and Betrayal Theme Icon
Control says that he heard Leamas was ill and that it was a shame he had... (full context)
Ideology and Morality Theme Icon
Identity and Autonomy Theme Icon
Loyalty and Betrayal Theme Icon
Leamas asks why Smiley isn’t at the house, and Control says that Smiley doesn’t like the operation. Control asks if Smiley gave Leamas the background... (full context)
Alienation and Connection  Theme Icon
Loyalty and Betrayal Theme Icon
Control asks Leamas if he would like anything done for Liz. Leamas says not to give... (full context)
Chapter 8: Le Mirage
Identity and Autonomy Theme Icon
Loyalty and Betrayal Theme Icon
...Riemeck could not have had access to all the information he provided. He remembers that Control had wondered the same thing. Leamas thinks to himself that it might be true: perhaps... (full context)
Alienation and Connection  Theme Icon
Identity and Autonomy Theme Icon
Loyalty and Betrayal Theme Icon
Leamas goes on to wonder about Elvira. Who killed her? He wonders if Control’s Special Interest had known that Elvira knew his identity and had her killed. But, Leamas... (full context)
Chapter 9: The Second Day
Identity and Autonomy Theme Icon
Loyalty and Betrayal Theme Icon
...why the Circus did not want the Resident to pay the agent himself and says Control ordered the operation as a special precaution. Peters is stunned to hear that Control himself... (full context)
Identity and Autonomy Theme Icon
Loyalty and Betrayal Theme Icon
...taken by the Circus. Leamas disputes this, but reflects to himself that this is how Control told him to handle the situation. He is feeding Peters evidence, but refusing to draw... (full context)
Chapter 10: The Third Day
Alienation and Connection  Theme Icon
...to return to her. In one or two weeks, he thinks, he will be home. Control had said that he could keep the fifteen thousand pounds, and then he would get... (full context)
Identity and Autonomy Theme Icon
Loyalty and Betrayal Theme Icon
...man in England, with his face printed in the newspapers. Leamas thinks that this is Control’s doing, and that Control misled him into taking the assignment. Control had said it would... (full context)
Chapter 12: East
Ideology and Morality Theme Icon
Alienation and Connection  Theme Icon
...to Berlin, reflecting on the last part of his career. He says to himself that Control was right—he has been getting burnt out. He remembers that last year he was on... (full context)
Identity and Autonomy Theme Icon
Loyalty and Betrayal Theme Icon
...it on to the British authorities, but then dismisses the idea, because he realizes that Control must have arranged for this to happen to him. Control had never mentioned what might... (full context)
Ideology and Morality Theme Icon
Loyalty and Betrayal Theme Icon
Elites and Others Theme Icon
...savage, without professional ambition but merciless and sarcastic. Leamas thinks back to a dinner at Control’s house with Peter Guillam and Control (when they were discussing Leamas’s current assignment). Control had... (full context)
Chapter 13: Pins or Paper Clips
Identity and Autonomy Theme Icon
...ever withdrew the funds. Fiedler asks about correspondence with the banks, and Leamas says that Control would have handled this, writing above Leamas’s signature in the alias’s name. He says that... (full context)
Alienation and Connection  Theme Icon
Identity and Autonomy Theme Icon
...addicted to alcohol, and rarely thinks about the deception he is perpetrating. Leamas reflects that Control had been right that Fiedler could be fed evidence against Mundt. Leamas wonders if perhaps... (full context)
Chapter 14: Letter to a Client
Ideology and Morality Theme Icon
Identity and Autonomy Theme Icon
Loyalty and Betrayal Theme Icon
...would have come out about the man who was the head of the Circus before Control. Fiedler asks if Leamas never wondered if there were some other reason Mundt escaped. Leamas... (full context)
Ideology and Morality Theme Icon
Identity and Autonomy Theme Icon
Loyalty and Betrayal Theme Icon
Elites and Others Theme Icon
Fiedler steers the conversation to Riemeck, asking Leamas about the occasion when Riemeck and Control met. Leamas says that Control always liked to be around when things were going well,... (full context)
Chapter 20: Tribunal
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Identity and Autonomy Theme Icon
Loyalty and Betrayal Theme Icon
Elites and Others Theme Icon
Leamas also testifies that Riemeck and Control met alone in his apartment in Berlin. Fiedler explains that the documents that the British... (full context)