Summary and Analysis: Part 3—The Third Hearing—Chapter 3

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Rubashov waits two days after turning in his statement to be taken to Ivanov. During this time, he thinks about the impact of his statement within the Party and imagines that it will cause a great deal of agony for the Party officials. He believes that the theories set forth in his statement are extremely heretical to the Party's philosophy and will therefore astound and bewilder those officials. He considers the demise of the Party's old guard and the grotesque nature of the debates over so-called "'revolutionary philosophy,;" which were only used to secure No. 1's hold on power. With his toothache gone, he wishes that he were able to develop his theory by pursuing studies in a library and impatiently awaits his meeting with Ivanov. On the third night after his statement, he lies awake at midnight, smoking, and sees two officials open his cell door.

At 2 a.m., the officials lead Rubashov down the corridor, past the barber shop, and down into a too-bright room in which Gletkin sits. Initially blinded by the light, Rubashov only sees the female secretary. Gletkin explains that Ivanov is absent, so he will examine Rubashov. Concluding that Ivanov has been arrested or otherwise punished, Rubashov suddenly feels old and asks Gletkin to turn off the bright light so that he can make his statement. Gletkin refuses this request, and the angry Rubashov inwardly curses him before asking to have the details of the accusation revealed. As Gletkin looks for the necessary document, Rubashov sees that the light has grown brighter. Then he listens to the reading of the accusation.

In a monotone, Gletkin reads allegations that Rubashov plotted with a "representative of a foreign Power" to overthrow the current regime and replace it with the old one. The document also alleges that when Rubashov was head of the aluminum trust, he sabotaged the trust's work. The disbelieving Rubashov is then read of an alleged plot on No. 1's life put forth by Rubashov to "X," a restaurant's assistant manager. The alleged plan was to have X poison one of the cold lunches No. 1 sometimes ordered from the restaurant. Rubashov protests the official guilty plea and instead pleads guilty to merely philosophical errors. Gletkin dismisses this and Rubashov's earlier confession as illogical. He questions Rubashov about his earlier declaration of repentance that helped convict Arlova. A confused Rubashov issues another denial and begins to long for sleep, but he is told by Gletkin that a complete confession is required.

Rubashov seems to have a very brief dream just before Hare-lip appears in the room. When Gletkin asks if he knows Hare-lip from before prison, Rubashov says that he does, but he can't remember exactly how. Hare-lip says, "'I was instigated by Citizen Rubashov to destroy the leader of the Party by poison.'" Hare-lip goes on to say that this instigation occurred after a work-related reception. Rubashov realizes that Hare-lip is Professor Kieffer's son and that they met on that day. The Professor was an old friend of Rubashov's killed by the No. 1 regime. Hare-lip goes on to say that on the night of the reception, Rubashov met with the Professor at Rubashov's apartment and talked about the past, drank, and complained about the No. 1 regime. Hare-lip adds that Rubashov said that "'the most important thing was to hold out the longest and to wait for the hour to strike.'" Hare-lip defines that time as the time when No. 1 is deposed.

Under harsh questioning from Gletkin, Hare-lip says Rubashov instigated the poison plot the morning after meeting with Kieffer....

(This entire section contains 1108 words.)

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Rubashov objects that at the time, Hare-lip was not planning on going into the restaurant business, so "'instigation to murder by poison becomes a logical impossibility.'" Gletkin refutes this by saying that the allegation is merely a plot to assassinate No. 1 and is not restricted to the specific poison plot. Hare-lip, who is now called Kieffer, is led away, and Rubashov admits that the allegation is mostly correct. However, he maintains that he actually advocated mass action, not an assassination plot, to overthrow No. 1. Immediately realizing he had written much earlier that mass action and civil war were the only ways to overthrow a dictatorship, his exhaustion grows. The very sleepy Rubashov signs the statement and is led back to his cell for an hour's sleep.

Rubashov's dreamy visions of the ruckus his statement will cause among Party theorists shows that his self-confidence is undiminished by his degraded condition. He believes that he retains enough power to baffle and confound Party officials. This confidence in his confessional statement and desire to further develop the ideas outlined in his confession show that Rubashov is still focused on pursuing his ideas. His focus has not been deterred by the harsh conditions of the prison or the possibility that he will soon be executed. Even in the face of annihilation, Rubashov clings to ideas of independence.

Lying awake in his cell before he is brought in for the second questioning again brings Rubashov back to the physical memory of Arlova. He returns to reality via the harshness of the guards and the news that Ivanov too has fallen victim to No. 1's regime. Suddenly aware of his aging body, he realizes how young Gletkin and the new Party vanguard are, but he merely dismisses them as brutes. His underestimating of Gletkin, who is clearly determined to draw out a full confession, seems to come from his failure to try to understand his enemy. Rubashov continues to talk of logical matters and politics, but the questioning about Arlova clearly jars him. Gletkin seems to bring in Hare-lip as a way to break Rubashov, who is already weakened by the memory of Arlova. Hare-lip's behavior, with his trembling upper lip, timid, forced testimony, and general nervousness, recalls the stammering Richard who was dismissed from the Party by Rubashov. But this time, a nervous young man is being used by the regime to destroy Rubashov. Yet again Koestler inverts Rubashov's past and inserts it into the explanation of his present, sorry condition. However, Rubashov attempts to maintain some control over the new accusation by directly questioning Kieffer. This strategy fails, and the exhausted Rubashov submits with no greater desire than to sleep. Gletkin may be dumber than Rubashov, but he is stronger, and he has the Party's power behind him. Furthermore, Gletkin controls Rubashov's immediate, physical existence and can give or deny him food and sleep. Gletkin thus can live out his philosophy of using torture to convince people to work with the Party. By manipulating physical needs, Gletkin manipulates Rubashov's ideas and resistance.


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


Summary and Analysis: Part 3—The Third Hearing—Chapters 4-6