The Spy Who Came in From the Cold

by

John Le Carré

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Lorries Symbol Icon

After Leamas nearly kills a carful of children driving on a highway while lorries (trucks) speed nearby, the huge vehicles come to symbolize the impersonal forces that crush individuals in the modern world. As a spy, Leamas wants to see what he does as working to protect innocent people, like the carful of children, but he comes to realize that his work – whether it calls for him to speed on the highway, or to send his agents into harm’s way – often leads him to endanger these innocents. In the novel’s final sentence, as Leamas dies, the image he sees is of the carful of children passing by, while his own car is crushed between enormous trucks. At this moment, Leamas sees that he too is a sensitive human being, capable of being unfairly mowed down by forces larger than himself.

Lorries Quotes in The Spy Who Came in From the Cold

The The Spy Who Came in From the Cold quotes below all refer to the symbol of Lorries. 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 12 Quotes

He drove seventy kilometres in half an hour, weaving between the traffic, taking risks to beat the clock, when a small car, a Fiat probably, nosed its way out into the fast lane forty yards ahead of him. Leamas stamped on the brake, turning his headlights full on and sounding his horn, and by the grace of God he missed it; missed it by a fraction of a second. As he passed the car he saw out of the corner of his eye four children in the back, waving and laughing, and the stupid, frightened face of their father at the wheel. He drove on, cursing, and suddenly it happened; suddenly his hands were shaking feverishly, his face was burning, his heart palpitating wildly. He managed to pull off the road into a lay-by, scrambled out of the car, and stood breathing heavily, staring at the hurtling stream of giant lorries. He had a vision of the little car caught among them, pounded and smashed, until there was nothing left, nothing but the frenetic whine of klaxons and the blue lights flashing; and the bodies of the children, torn, like the murdered refugees on the road across the dunes.

Related Characters: Alec Leamas
Related Symbols: Lorries, World War II
Page Number: 104-105
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 26 Quotes

Shielding his eyes he looked down at the foot of the wall and at last he managed to see her, lying still. For a moment he hesitated, then quite slowly he climbed back down the same rungs, until he was standing beside her. She was dead; her face was turned away, her black hair drawn across her cheek as if to protect her from the rain.
They seemed to hesitate before firing again; someone shouted an order, and still no one fired. Finally they shot him, two or three shots. He stood glaring round him like a blinded bull in the arena. As he fell, Leamas saw a small car smashed between great lorries, and the children waving cheerfully through the window.

Related Characters: Alec Leamas, Liz Gold
Related Symbols: Lorries, Liz’s Hair, The Berlin Wall
Page Number: 225
Explanation and Analysis:
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Lorries Symbol Timeline in The Spy Who Came in From the Cold

The timeline below shows where the symbol Lorries appears in The Spy Who Came in From the Cold. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 12: East
Ideology and Morality Theme Icon
Alienation and Connection  Theme Icon
...his way to meet Riemeck, speeding on the highway, which was crowded with huge, heavy lorries, when he had to pound on his brakes to avoid hitting a car full of... (full context)
Chapter 25: The Wall
Identity and Autonomy Theme Icon
...entirely, not just killed, to save Mundt’s position. Still driving, Leamas tries to overtake a lorry and then must brake hard to avoid a crash. He continues, saying that he was... (full context)
Chapter 26: In from the Cold
Ideology and Morality Theme Icon
Alienation and Connection  Theme Icon
Identity and Autonomy Theme Icon
Loyalty and Betrayal Theme Icon
...last thought Leamas has before he dies is of a small car being crashed between lorries and children waving through a car window. (full context)