Summary and Analysis: Part 1—The First Hearing—Chapters 13-14

Download PDF PDF Page Citation Cite Share Link Share

New Characters
Ivanov: Rubashov's old friend and colleague in the Party

Arlova: Rubashov's former secretary

On the first night of his incarceration, Rubashov sleeps poorly and is hounded by thoughts of Richard and Little Loewy. He awakens in the morning to a bugle's blare and is escorted to the prison doctor, who examines his teeth. The doctor sees that Rubashov has no upper left teeth, and "the root of the right eye-tooth is broken off and has remained in the jaw." The doctor offers to remove the root, but Rubashov rejects the offer, demanding proper treatment. He is put under examination three days later.

On that day, the warder leads him to the examination room. The path they take illustrates the sharp divide between the masses of prisoners and the sumptuous, luxurious apartments inhabited by the upper-level administrators. In the examination room, Rubashov's old college friend Ivanov is sitting behind a desk. The two exchange jovial greetings before Rubashov becomes suspicious, and Ivanov admits to having Rubashov arrested. Rubashov realizes that as an individual, he means nothing to the Party. Rubashov also realizes that he is now paying the price for his past sins in the Party's service. He and Ivanov discuss the fate of the Party, the masses, and the lessons of history.

Rubashov denies having ever joined the organized opposition to the Party, and Ivanov promptly reviews Rubashov's activities in Germany, his return to the homeland and quick withdrawal from that homeland to Belgium, and his second return to the homeland. This repeated desire to leave the homeland for non-Party countries is considered suspect. After that second return, Rubashov's secretary, Arlova, underwent a trial in which she was sentenced to death, thanks largely to a statement from Rubashov. Rubashov then became head of the State Aluminum Trust for two years, up until his recent arrest. Ivanov adds that he has a confession of a man who says he tried to kill No. 1 after being inspired to the scheme by Rubashov. He asks Rubashov to confess to having been in a group of the opposition but to deny attempting to assassinate No. 1. Rubashov rejects the offer, whereupon Ivanov gives Rubashov a veiled threat, and Rubashov is led back to his cell.

Rubashov tells the doctor that he deserves correct treatment, and in doing so, he shows that his obstinacy is still intact despite his pain and his dismal future. His pain, and the sudden change of atmosphere as he crosses the courtyard into the administrative department, speaks to how the Party, rather than developing a collective society, has created a system in which Party officials live in comfort while the masses struggle. Rubashov and Ivanov have at this point turned up on opposite sides of the Party's division. Yet Ivanov has betrayed Rubashov in the same way that Rubashov betrayed Little Loewy, Richard, and Arlova. They are very similar in history, only now Rubashov has been lumped with the masses and must suffer.

In their debate, the readers see how these conflicting current situations have shaped Rubashov's and Ivanov's perspectives on the Party's philosophy, the justifications for its actions, and its successes and failures. Rubashov maintains that the Party has lost the masses even as it insists on thinking in terms of "we" rather than "I." Rubashov's memory and reasoning is full of individuals—Richard, Little Loewy, Arlova and himself—not the vast ideological principles of the Party. Ivanov responds only by bringing up the allegations of Rubashov's treachery. He goes on to insist that Rubashov's individual decision to turn against the Party must have resulted in...

(This entire section contains 788 words.)

See This Study Guide Now

Start your 48-hour free trial to unlock this study guide. You'll also get access to more than 30,000 additional guides and more than 350,000 Homework Help questions answered by our experts.

Get 48 Hours Free Access

him joining a group to oppose the Party. This continued refusal to see Rubashov as a mere individual shows that Ivanov still believes in the Party's doctrine of historical logic and necessity, and its emphasis on the masses. Therefore, Rubashov must be treated as merely another guilty scapegoat at a public show trial in order to fulfill the Party's plans, as it carries out the plan to exterminate all its senior leaders who disagree with No. 1. However, Rubashov's recollection that after turning Arlova in he enjoyed two years as a state leader reveal a major flaw in the Party—namely, that everyone is suspect. When all individuals are suspect and all actions are supposedly taken for the good of the masses, any individual life will seem cheap. The Party is full of members, and Rubashov's history indicates that he probably is not happy in the Soviet homeland. Thus, he can be sacrificed, just as he has sacrificed many others who did not agree with aspects of the Party's actions. Ivanov still believes in this reasoning, although Rubashov sees the true price of it every hour in his cell.


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


Summary and Analysis: Part 2—The Second Hearing—Chapters 1-3