Chapter 3 Summary

One night Verloc has his three closest anarchist confidants over to the rooms behind the shop. The visitors are Michaelis, a talkative former prisoner who makes grand speeches to the others about the imminent demise of capitalism; Karl Yundt, a sinister old terrorist with a white goatee who challenges Michaelis on his optimistic belief in revolution; and Comrade Ossipon, a medical student who writes most of the propaganda materials for the group.

Michaelis and Yundt argue about the nature of the revolution. Since spending five years alone in prison, Michaelis has had much time to develop his ideas and arguments. He often speaks as if he is talking to himself and hardly bothers to listen to what others say. Michaelis believes humanity has been moving through history on a progression to the elimination of private property. Yundt however believes less in history’s inevitable progress than he does in a group of active men who are willing to kill in order to save the world.

As Michaelis delivers a lengthy speech on the development of mankind over the centuries, Verloc opens the door to let in some fresh air. Verloc’s brother-in-law is sitting just outside the door, silently drawing circles on a piece of paper. He begins to listen to the men’s conversation.

Seeing Stevie, Ossipon comments upon the condition of Verloc’s brother-in-law, calling him a degenerate, and mentions the theories of a writer named Lombroso, who believes that criminals can be identified by their facial features. Yundt and Michaelis disagree vehemently. Michaelis says that the people in prison have been put there by the ruling class instead of by their own behavior.

The subject of the discussion moves to propaganda and how to energize the lower classes toward revolution. Ossipon says that the emotions of the people must be stirred up, and they must be convinced that the upper classes have a cannibalistic relationship towards labor.

Hearing Yundt’s speech about the upper class “nourishing their greed on the quivering flesh and the warm blood of the people” upsets Stevie, who sinks to the ground outside as he considers the gruesome image.

Eventually the men leave, and Verloc turns off the lights and prepares to go up to his bedroom. Stevie is awake, however, and Verloc is unable to convince him to go upstairs to bed.

Getting into bed, Verloc wakes up Winnie and tells her that Stevie is upset. After going down to comfort Stevie, Winnie comes back up to the bedroom and says that she wishes Stevie wouldn’t overhear the conversations between Verloc and his associates because they frighten him so. Winnie is not surprised that the upsetting words came from Yundt, whom she despises. She appreciates Michaelis and is made uneasy by Ossipon.

Winnie says that she had to take the carving knife away from Stevie, who was stamping in a rage over Yundt’s speech. Winnie claims that Stevie has no tolerance for stories of cruelty.