Summary and Analysis: Part 2—The Second Hearing—Chapter 7

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Rubashov is awoken the next morning when the light in his cell is turned on, and after briefly dreaming that he is free rather than in prison, he sees Ivanov standing at his bedside. Ivanov has a bottle of brandy brought in and points out that Rubashov has a badly swollen right cheek. Rubashov's toothache is worsening. Rubashov scorns the offer of brandy but begins to talk, asking Ivanov to put away his scheme of gaining a confession from Rubashov and leave his cell. However, when Ivanov protests that this is not his intent and asks to talk for five minutes, Rubashov agrees.

Ivanov confirms the shooting of Bogrov and says that Gletkin deliberately had Bogrov dragged past Rubashov's cell. Ivanov asks if Rubashov would submit to a confession if he becomes objectively convinced of the need for it. Rubashov answers no. Ivanov replies by elaborating on Rubashov's condition and depicts Satan, who is "'cold and unmerciful to mankind, out of a kind of mathematical mercifulness,'" as preferable to a sentimental and charitable God. He also explains that Bogrov's execution resulted from Bogrov's preference for large, long-range submarines over the small, short-range submarines favored by the Party. This preference, Ivanov says, was intolerable because it would have signified the Party's intent on further world revolution and because it opposed the Party's viewpoint.

Rubashov answers this argument by protesting that Bogrov suffered. Ivanov dismisses this consideration and the emotions of "'sympathy, conscience, disgust, despair, repentance, and atonement'" as "'repellent debauchery.'" Saying that history is amoral, he prompts Rubashov to remember that they agreed on this opinion for a long time and still did when Rubashov helped cause Arlova's execution. He and Rubashov debate the usefulness of Dostoyevsky's Crime and Punishment, which examines whether or not the student Raskolnikov is justified in robbing and killing an old woman. Ivanov claims that Dostoyevsky's novel should actually pose the question of whether or not Raskolnikov is justified in robbing and killing the woman in order to serve the aims of the Party. Ivanov goes on to say that a collectivist morality, in which the "'collective aim justifies all means,'" is preferable to a Christian and humane morality that "'declares the individual to be sacrosanct.'" In Ivanov's argument, the collective is the Party and the Party's goals constitute the collectivist morality. Rubashov and Ivanov continue to debate this issue util Ivanov notices that the morning is beginning, and he departs. Rubashov feels that he is now halfway to surrender, and Ivanov stops on the way to his room to briefly discuss the case with Gletkin.

Rubashov's initial efforts to convince himself that he is in a dream rather than a real nightmare indicate his need for release. Although he is still keeping his wits and combativeness, Rubashov is steadily being worn down. Ivanov, apparently aware of this, steadily reasons with his old friend about the need to kill Bogrov and dismiss Bogrov's suffering as misleading and tempting Party functionaries to stray from their proper path. The emotional considerations that led Rubashov to sympathize with Bogrov's suffering are misleading, according to Ivanov, and tempt Party functionaries to stray from amorality. Amorality, with its subjection of the individual to the needs of the community and its focus on the aims rather than means, is essential for real progress. Because the Party is governed by the needs of the collective, meeting those needs must be paramount. However, Rubashov's focus on Bogrov's suffering allows Koestler to counterpoint Ivanov, because Rubashov also suffers, and yet he has followed the Party and betrayed his friends and lover as he...

(This entire section contains 768 words.)

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was supposed to. Rubashov seems to be beginning to ask who exactly is in this collective that determines the collectivist rule.

Rubashov is beginning to choose to follow the moral sentiments that force him to feel guilty over the fates of Richard, Arlova, and Little Loewy rather than follow the harsh logical necessity he had supported for so long as a Party revolutionary. Ivanov and Rubashov spend the night debating these issues, but as dawn breaks, both know that Rubashov is near the point of making his confession. No matter what Rubashov decides, at this point in his life he has betrayed the confidence Richard, Arlova, and Little Loewy had placed in him, and in turn his confidence in Ivanov has been betrayed. By following the dictates of the Party, he has become not just alone but powerless over his own fate. The Party's belief in historical necessity and the immovable will of the masses has made Rubashov an individual casualty of that belief.


Summary and Analysis: Part 2—The Second Hearing—Chapters 4-6


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