Student Question

Why does Little Loewy commit suicide in Darkness at Noon?

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In Arthur Koestler's Darkness at Noon, Little Loewy is a Party member and dockworker in Belgium whom Rubashov charges with a task that Little Loewy opposes. Little Loewy is denounced to the Party over the issue and hangs himself. Let's look at this in more detail.

The incident is one of Rubashov's memories, for he himself has been denounced and tortured and is now in prison. He recalls how he was sent to Belgium where Party dockworkers had been ordered to boycott raw materials shipments for a certain “aggressor” dictatorship. Now, however, the Party has changed its mind, and Rubashov is to deliver the new orders. The boycott has failed, and the Party has other motives now. There are five cargo boats arriving the following day, and the dockworkers are to do their job with regard to them and ignore the boycott.

Little Loewy and the other dockworkers realize that, for the Party, wealth is more important than ideals in this situation. The Party is contradicting itself yet still insisting on its own infallibility. It can break its own rules, and everyone must simply comply. The dockworkers oppose the shipment.

As a result, local Party leaders are expelled from the Party, and Little Loewy is denounced. He cannot cope with the contradictions and compromises in the Party, and he kills himself.

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