Nobody takes thrillers literally, nor cares about their specific events, nor
harbors any frustrated desire to become a secret agent or a private eye.
Thrillers are taken symbolically; they dramatize one of man’s widest and most
crucial abstractions: the abstraction of moral conflict.
What people seek in thrillers is the spectacle of man’s efficacy: of his
ability to fight for his values and to achieve them. What they see is a
condensed, simplified pattern, reduced to its essentials: a man fighting for a
vital goal—overcoming one obstacle after another—facing terrible dangers and
risks—persisting through an excruciating struggle—and winning.