Darkness at Noon Summary and Analysis: Part 1—The First Hearing—Chapters 10-12
by Arthur Koestler

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Summary and Analysis: Part 1—The First Hearing—Chapters 10-12

New Characters
Hare-lip (also known as "Kieffer"): Rubashov's fellow prisoner, who is later revealed to have implicated him in an effort to kill No. 1

Little Loewy: a leader of the Party in a Belgian port town

The scene returns to Rubashov in his cell, looking out the window to realize he has spent almost four hours walking in the cell. Two men, one of whom has a hare-lip, are walking on the prison yard's path. "Hare-lip" looks up at Rubashov's window, directly above the path. Rubashov asks No. 402 who he is. No. 402 says that Hare-lip, No. 400, is also imprisoned for "POLITICAL DIVERGENCIES" and was tortured yesterday. As he begins smoking his last cigarette, Rubashov thinks, "I will pay my fare." He visualizes Richard and the cab driver pursuing him and threatening him because of supposed betrayal and cheating.

Rubashov's request for more cigarettes is rejected by the warder, and he responds by cursing the warden. He is told that this will be reported. No. 402 offers to give Rubashov some tobacco. The warden replies that this is not allowed, and Rubashov ponders whether or not he must pay for his past deeds even if they "'were right and necessary.'" No. 402 tells him that Hare-lip sends his greetings to Rubashov but that Hare-lip does not tell Rubashov his name.

It is the afternoon of the day of his arrest. Rubashov's thoughts linger on memories of his life in the Party and the situation both he and the Party are in. He recalls himself in an old Belgian port on Party business, two years after expelling Richard from the Party. In the interval, he had returned to the homeland to see many of his old Party colleagues dead and expelled from Party memory. Dismayed and afraid of this, he requested an assignment abroad and went to Belgium, where he met Little Loewy. Little Loewy had helped make the dock workers' section of the port town a model that the Party encouraged others to emulate. Little Loewy showed him around the port and its pubs. Little Loewy told Rubashov about his past exploits, including his days as a man without a country, shuffling between France and Belgium and killing cats to stay alive. Although complaining about the Party's treatment of him during this hard time, Little Loewy eventually made his way into the traditional hierarchy and recognition of the Party.

Rubashov met with the local Party cell in the port to discuss the Party's shipments of minerals and petrol to a "dictatorship in the heart of Europe" and "another hungry dictatorship in the south of Europe," both of whom the Party had called upon the workers of the world to boycott. Many of the dockworkers who were Party members left the Party over the minerals shipment, not understanding how such a contradiction as supplying an ideologically opposed country could possibly be resolved. As the petrol shipment neared the port, Rubashov met with the leading Party members to explain that the shipments were necessary to aid the industrial development of the Party homeland. Little Loewy and the other Party members expressed their skepticism about this rationale and opposed the shipment. Rubashov communicated with Party officials, who expelled the leaders of the dockworkers' section and denounced Little Loewy. In response, Little Loewy hanged himself three days later.

The introduction of Hare-lip, the reason for his punishment, and his staring at Rubashov's cell, combined with Rubashov's thought that "I will pay my fare," prompts the readers to wonder how Hare-lip is linked to Rubashov and what the consequences of this link will be. Since Hare-lip has undergone torture, another uncertain element is added to the ominous atmosphere of Rubashov's imprisonment.

The theme of Rubashov's bluntly physical circumstances continues with his desire for food and cigarettes, and his insult to the warder. And yet much of the novel so far is taken up with Rubashov's inner life. This inner life keeps him from being absolutely trapped by his...

(The entire section is 990 words.)