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

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

Rubashov's second diary entry, made on the twentieth day of his imprisonment, discusses the "'pendulum movement in history, swinging from absolutism to democracy.'" He theorizes that the alternation between absolutism (which is also known as totalitarian dictatorship) and democracy reflects a situation in which economic and technological change outpaces the ability of a population to comprehend and adapt to this change. When the population has adapted to change, it becomes a democracy. However, Rubashov argues that until the population does adapt, absolutism is possible and sometimes even necessary. He claims that socialist theory failed to recognize this. Instead, it mistakenly believed "'that the level of mass-consciousness rose constantly and steadily.'" In the Party homeland, the population is lagging behind the change brought about by the elimination of private property under Communism, so a democracy is not possible. Rubashov concludes that during this period when the population lags behind change, the members of the political opposition can spark a coup d'état and depose the government, they can "'die in silence,'" or they can deny and suppress their individual convictions. He adds that in the Party homeland, this last option has become a moral system. In this system, denying one's own convictions is preferable to hopelessly struggling against the Party.

Rubashov writes his diary entry on the morning after Bogrov's execution. On that morning, he met a peasant in the prison yard. The peasant told him about his village's resistance to the Government and the resulting arrests. After eating lunch, Rubashov tells No. 402 that he will capitulate. He reads through his statement, which he copies out as a letter to the Public Prosecutor, and signs it.

Rubashov returns to his earlier thought that the Party is "sailing without ballast" in his diary entry from the twentieth day of prison. This implies that there is no grounding or weight to the Party's actions, and even small winds can blow the Party off course. Rubashov proposes that the only way for errant Party officials to preserve themselves is to deny and suppress "'one's own conviction when there is no prospect of materializing it. '" By denying one's own feelings, one can still serve the Party. However, Rubashov leaves unaddressed the question of how one can...

(The entire section is 593 words.)