Darkness at Noon Questions and Answers
by Arthur Koestler

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What is the significance of the title, Darkness at Noon?

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Arthur Koestler's novel needs to be understood in the context of the 1917 Russian Revolution and the history of the Soviet Union over the next twenty years. The events of 1917 seemed to give many progressive people genuine hope for the future, for human equality, and for the abolition of both class distinctions and the exploitation of working people. This hope is symbolized by the "Noon" of Koestler's title.

From our perspective today, knowing what we do about how the Soviet Union degenerated into tyranny very quickly, it's difficult to recreate the point of view of left-wing people in the first half of the twentieth century. They were shocked and disillusioned as the facts about Stalin's dictatorship became known. By the late 1930s, Stalin had thrown many of the Bolshevik Old Guard in prison, forced them to sign confessions that they had betrayed the Revolution, and had them executed. In the novel, Rubashov is one such victim of these purges. During Stalin's reign, several million...

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thoughtfulstudy | Student

The sun is a large, foreign body which reaches the apex of its power at noon, bathing individuals below with warmth and enlightenment.

The communist movement is like a sun-god unable to make good on its earlier promises- when its government reaches the peak of its power, it offers no warmth or enlightenment (despite the earlier hopes of its intellectuals and philosophers). Thus, individuals under its weight are forced to wander in confusion and alien remoteness, setting the tone and central journey in Darkness at Noon.

philologos | Student

In the synoptic gospels (the Bible) the sky is dark for three hours (ending at noon) when Christ dies. This fits in with the religious imagery of the book, especially the idea of Rubashov as a messiah-figure, willingly dying for sins that aren't his own.