Darkness at Noon Summary and Analysis: Part 2—The Second Hearing—Chapters 1-3
by Arthur Koestler

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

New Characters
Gletkin: the Party official who takes over the interrogation of Rubashov from Ivanov

On the fifth day of his imprisonment, Rubashov makes a diary entry. In it, he looks back on the Party's neo-Machiavellian nature and the fact that it is "sailing without ballast." Its morality brings No. 1 to kill some agriculturalists because they disagreed with No. 1 on the issue of proper manure. In this atmosphere, mistakes are paid with death, and lies are often better than truth. However, Party members cannot discern the truth, and so Rubashov says they rely on "faith in one's self" instead.

Ivanov and Gletkin had discussed the Rubashov case and other matters the day after Ivanov's hearing of Rubashov, on the fifth day of his imprisonment. Ivanov believed Rubashov will logically decide to capitulate, which Gletkin did not believe. He mentioned the large scar on Gletkin's skull, which came from torture at the hands of the enemy, but Gletkin dismissed the experience. Gletkin proclaimed it necessary to use torture and other forms of pressure to produce confessions from prisoners, and told an anecdote of trying to convince a peasant to cooperate with the collectivization of the nation's land. This method accomplished nothing, but when farmers were submitted to physical or mental exhaustion, they became pliable. However, Ivanov decided to give Rubashov another fourteen days to reflect on his situation.

Rubashov is given paper and pencil, as well as prison vouchers and the option of buying more food and tobacco from the prisoner's canteen. He looks out at the prisoners exercising in the yard, including Hare-lip, who keeps looking up at him. Rubashov recognizes none of the prisoners. He begins to hold "dialogues" with himself, in which he considers that he will be killed soon, ponders the relative positions of Ivanov and himself, and reflects on his own personality. On the seventh day of his imprisonment, Rubashov examines his relationship with his one-time secretary Arlova. She served him during his time as head of the Belgium Trade Delegation, which immediately followed the death of Little Loewy. Arlova was a quiet, relatively pleasant woman who responded to Rubashov's request for a date by saying nothing. On the date, she told him, "'You will always be able to do what you like with me.'"

Rubashov began sleeping with her at a time when the Party feared opposition action. At this time, the office library was told to remove books written by objectionable authors or discussing objectionable topics, and add new books. Arlova was selected as the librarian. Eventually, members of the Party attacked her for having banned books in the library while excluding essential speeches by No. 1. Rubashov felt she would come to grief, and one day, the First Secretary of the cell told Rubashov her brother and sister-in-law in the homeland were under arrest. Arlova was fired at the Party cell's next meeting.

Rubashov's initial diary entry testifies again to the consequences of the Party's guiding philosophy. Under its laws, those who are on the wrong side of history face death not because of their motives but because of the supposedly objective merits of their opinions and actions. However, as he points out, people living in the present are neither objective nor omniscient; therefore, they cannot guess at what will become the truth in the near future. Since Stalin and the Party's policies are sometimes inconsistent (as with the trade agreement with two Fascist countries they had urged average workers to...

(The entire section is 892 words.)