Darkness at Noon

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Nicholas Salmanovitch Rubashov Character Analysis

Rubashov was, before the time at which Darkness at Noon begins, a key player in the socialist revolution of the unnamed fatherland, and an important member of the “old guard” that became the leaders of the new regime. His official title was “Commissar of the People,” the name of a bureaucratic leader (used in the Soviet Union before 1946). His specific role as a diplomat involved traveling to foreign countries in order to support the development of revolutionary activities there. By the time the book begins, Rubashov’s position of fomenting revolution abroad has fallen out of favor, leading to his imprisonment. Already, it appears, Rubashov has had doubts about the effectiveness and correctness of certain Party policies, and he hasn’t been entirely discreet about vocalizing them to friends. But it is only over the course of the book that he comes to fundamentally question the entire philosophy upon which Party policy is based. Rubashov thinks of himself as an intellectual, part of the old guard that had managed to wed philosophy to political, social, and economic action in service of the people. He thinks of the French Revolution, and particularly of Danton, one of the early revolutionaries who was ultimately executed by the next wave of revolutionaries advocating for terror. He looks at the new generation with scorn, considering it to be made up of bureaucrats who are crude, unsubtle, and uninterested in the nuances of socialist philosophy. He comes to think of himself as a kind of Danton, sacrificed by a new, historically immature leadership. But, as Rubashov gradually realizes, he too has more or less unthinkingly followed official policy for years, with little concern for the individual lives that may get in the way. His love of and eagerness for intellectual musing and philosophizing ultimately leads him to radically alter his understanding of his own past as well as that of his country.

Nicholas Salmanovitch Rubashov Quotes in Darkness at Noon

The Darkness at Noon quotes below are all either spoken by Nicholas Salmanovitch Rubashov or refer to Nicholas Salmanovitch Rubashov. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Ideology and Contradiction Theme Icon
). Note: all page and citation info for the quotes below refers to the Scribner edition of Darkness at Noon published in 2006.
The First Hearing: 8 Quotes

The old disease, thought Rubashov. Revolutionaries should not think through other people’s minds.
Or, perhaps they should? Or even ought to?
How can one change the world if one identifies oneself with everybody?
How else can one change it?

Related Characters: Nicholas Salmanovitch Rubashov (speaker)
Page Number: 23
Explanation and Analysis:

Rubashov is wondering what’s going on in other people’s minds, an activity in which he often engages and at which he is more or less talented. This skill has presumably served him well as a diplomat, when he was responsible for managing political affairs strategically and manipulating people abroad. At the same time, however, Rubashov regards this ability to imagine the situation of another person as a weakness, the “old disease” to which he is susceptible but thinks he must overcome. It’s a disease, within the Party ideology, because imagining another person’s thoughts puts an emphasis on an individual’s particularity and inner life rather than denying the individual in order to focus on the collective.

Nevertheless, Rubashov begins to show some stirrings of uncertainty regarding whether or not it really is better to forget about the interiors of other people’s minds. As a member of the Party leadership, Rubashov knows that he has power and responsibility that require him to distinguish himself from others, and, in particular, to often forget about the possibility that he might cause their suffering in return for a higher cause. At the same time, he wonders if there’s an insoluble contradiction at play here: if the only way the Party can enact the changes it wants might be precisely to focus on individual thoughts and desires.

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The First Hearing: 9 Quotes

“The Party can never be mistaken,” said Rubashov. “You and I can make a mistake. Not the Party. The Party, comrade, is more than you and I and a thousand others like you and I. The Party is the embodiment of the revolutionary idea in history. History knows no scruples and no hesitation. Inert and unerring, she flows towards her goal. At every bend in her course she leaves the mud which she carries and the corpses of the drowned. History knows her way. She makes no mistakes. He who has not absolute faith in History does not belong in the Party’s ranks.”

Related Characters: Nicholas Salmanovitch Rubashov (speaker), Richard
Page Number: 43-44
Explanation and Analysis:

Rubashov is speaking to Richard at the gallery in Germany, criticizing Richard for having thought to follow his own path by printing his own pamphlets rather than following the Party’s official message. Richard believes in the Party cause, but he also thinks that Party officials might make mistakes in spreading their message to Germany—mistakes that Richard is uniquely qualified to correct since he’s present on the ground. Here, Rubashov shows that the very idea that the Party can make a mistake is a contradiction in terms when one really subscribes to its own ideology. If the Party is the “embodiment of the revolutionary idea in history,” and if revolution is the ultimate goal to strive for, then one must follow revolution, history, and—as a logical result—whatever the Party decides.

Here, Rubashov acknowledges some of the casualties of this insistence on history: he portrays it as intent and powerful but cold, with little concern for the “drowned” left in its wake. At the same time, his reasoning is both logical and circular: he seems to be implying that history’s laws find their proper fulfillment the Party, which is proved by the fact that the Party follows history’s laws. If there’s complete overlap between the two, then there’s no contradiction—but this circularity also makes it difficult, if not impossible, to disprove the Party’s assumptions or to question anything that the Party does (indeed, this is precisely the point).

The First Hearing: 11 Quotes

“Yet I would do it again,” he said to himself. “It was necessary and right. But do I perhaps owe you the fare all the same? Must one also pay for deeds which were right and necessary?”

Related Characters: Nicholas Salmanovitch Rubashov (speaker), Richard, No. 402
Page Number: 56-57
Explanation and Analysis:

Rubashov has been thinking of how he sacrificed Richard, and about the taxi driver who seemed loyal to Communism (but whose friendly offering Rubashov dismissed in order to stay discreet). These memories are also interspersed with Rubashov’s conversation with No. 402, whom he asks for tobacco. Initially No. 402 says no, and Rubashov, irritated, decides that 402 owes him nothing. Then 402 does send Rubashov tobacco from the warder. Suddenly Rubashov is forced to question how easily he scorns and dismisses others who seem unable to serve his own needs.

This, in turn, causes Rubashov to reflect on how he acted with Richard. He doesn’t, at this point, think that he had another option: he believes that the needs of the Party should come before any individual cause. At the same time, Rubashov starts to wonder if he still “owes the fare” to Richard—that is, if he is indebted to him in any way, or indebted in the broader (even theological) sense of the term, on a cosmic scale. This is a related question to the one Rubashov has asked about the laws of history; he won’t know whether he must pay for wrongs, or even if he wronged anyone at all, until it’s too late.

The First Hearing: 12 Quotes

The Party’s warm, breathing body appeared to him to be covered with sores—festering sores, bleeding stigmata. When and where in history had there even been such defective saints? Whenever had a good cause been worse represented? If the Party embodied the will of history, then history itself was defective.

Related Characters: Nicholas Salmanovitch Rubashov (speaker)
Related Symbols: Christian Symbolism
Page Number: 58
Explanation and Analysis:

Rubashov is feeling desperate for a cigarette and, in his desperation, he begins to be overwhelmed by thoughts of the Party and of his own interrelationship with it. Indeed, even as Rubashov now begins to question his own role in asserting the dominance of communist ideology, he realizes that there’s no way to separate himself out from any evils of the ideology, as his entire life has been tied up with Communism.

At this moment in particular, Rubashov uses a remarkable metaphor to think about the morally compromised nature of the Party. First of all, he compares it to a living body, which echoes the “social body” to which many political leaders often refer when they seek to get across the importance of collective interests and actions. But Rubashov also uses religious and, in particular, Christian imagery: the stigmata were originally the wounds on Jesus’s body from being crucified, and it is said in Christianity that when a person begins to show similar wounds or wound-like marks, it’s a sign that the person is a saint. Rubsahov links this notion to the idea of individual sacrifice for collective use—a central Party tenet—but he also suggests that such sacrifice has been deformed grotesquely, turned away from its proper purposes.

The First Hearing: 13 Quotes

For the movement was without scruples; she rolled towards her goal unconcernedly and deposed the corpses of the drowned in the windings of her course. Her course had many twists and windings; such was the law of her being. And whosoever could not follow her crooked course was washed on to the bank, for such was her law. The motives of the individual did not matter to her. His conscience did not matter to her, neither did she care what went on in his head and his heart. The Party knew only one crime: to swerve from the course laid out; and only one punishment: death.

Related Characters: Nicholas Salmanovitch Rubashov
Page Number: 76
Explanation and Analysis:

The narration steps back here from Rubashov’s particular experience in order to make a broader and, in many ways, poetic comment on the workings of a totalitarian government, specifically in the post-revolutionary Russian context. The “movement” is described here just as History has been described earlier, as a powerful but impersonal force, unconcerned with the suffering of individuals and acting according to broad, collective laws. Then, the “movement” is equated to the “Party,” in a slippage that suggests just how much the idealism of collective action has become an authoritarian regime of certain individuals. There’s no room for subtlety in this framework, either—there’s a foreshadowing here of Rubashov’s ultimate fate, even though, at this point in the novel, it still seems as though he might be able to be saved by a confession.

The First Hearing: 14 Quotes

“But we had descended into the depths, into the formless, anonymous masses, which at all times constituted the substance of history; and we were the first to discover her laws of motion. We had discovered the laws of inertia, of the slow changing of her molecular structure, and of her sudden eruptions. That was the greatness of our doctrine. The Jacobins were moralists; we were empirics. We dug in the primeval mud of history and there we found her laws. We knew more than ever men have known about mankind; that is why our revolution succeeded. And now you have buried it all again….”

Related Characters: Nicholas Salmanovitch Rubashov (speaker), Ivanov
Page Number: 84
Explanation and Analysis:

Ivanov is purportedly interrogating Rubashov, but the two seem to be having more of a two-way conversation than a one-way examination. This is perhaps due to their former friendship and their mutual respect for intellectual questions. Here Rubashov returns to a former time when he didn’t question the Party, its historical laws, or his own position within them. The “we” to which Rubashov refers are the members of the Party leadership that sat around the table at the initial congress, immortalized in a photograph. While other revolutions have existed in the past, Rubashov argues that the exceptionalism of the Bolshevik revolution was that this group had not just acted according to desires or even morals, but had studied the laws of history and the workings of the masses.

Rubsahov talks about these laws as analogous to laws of physics: by stressing that the leaders were “empirics” rather than “moralists,” he argues that they didn’t try to determine what was right, but rather they sought to delve into the rules and laws of society just like physicists interrogate the laws of the universe. For this reason, the laws they uncovered should have been infallible. Now, Rubsahov seems to suggest, the new Party policies are doing away with all the knowledge and discovery that this logical process created.

The Second Hearing: 1 Quotes

“Yet for the moment we are thinking and acting on credit. As we have thrown overboard all conventions and rules of cricket-morality, our sole guiding principle is that of consequent logic. We are under the terrible compulsion to follow our thought down to its final consequence and to act in accordance to it. We are sailing without ballast; therefore each touch on the helm is a matter of life or death.”

Related Characters: Nicholas Salmanovitch Rubashov (speaker)
Page Number: 98
Explanation and Analysis:

This section of the novel begins with an extract from Rubashov’s diary, as he tries to puzzle through the implications of his imprisonment, not just for himself, but also for what it says about how the Party has changed. He wonders whether that change is accidental or an inevitable result of internal contradictions of its ideology. “Cricket-morality” is Rubashov’s term for the nineteenth-century liberal, bourgeois assumptions of individual sovereignty and consideration of various means and ends. Rubashov, like Ivanov, still at this point considers such morality to be weak, naïve, and passé: as long as a person or a state has proper goals, the means by which these goals are achieved must not be considered. In other words, one should rely on “consequent logic” alone.

Nevertheless, Rubsahov recognizes that the result of such logic is another kind of uncertainty. While the Party is, for him, too logical and even courageous to take refuge in facile moral precepts, that does mean that it’s not clear how to judge whether or not an action is right. The responsibility this places on those in charge of the Party is, then, remarkably high.

The Second Hearing: 3 Quotes

Its existence was limited to a grammatical abstraction called the “first person singular.” Direct questions and logical meditations did not induce it to speak; its utterances occurred without visible cause and, strangely enough, always accompanied by a sharp attack of toothache. Its mental sphere seemed to be composed of such various and disconnected parts as the folded hands of the Pietà, Little Loewy’s cats, the tune of the song with the refrain of “come to dust,” or a particular sentence which Arlova had once spoken on an occasion.

Related Characters: Nicholas Salmanovitch Rubashov (speaker)
Page Number: 111-112
Explanation and Analysis:

Rubashov is once again trying to think through the implications of his interrogation, and here he is wondering to what extent Ivanov really wants to save him and whether or not his interrogator is as sincere (or cynical) as Rubashov had been with Richard or Little Loewy. This monologue takes place within Rubashov’s own mind, but he’s also aware of a “silent partner” that makes the monologue a kind of internal conversation—even if that partner is only rarely stirred.

Rubashov characterizes the silent partner as the “first person singular,” that is, the individual with all his or her desires, fears, memories, idiosyncrasies, and capacity to love or suffer. Rubashov, having been schooled in the triumph of the collective and the dismissal of the individual, has no way to think about his own self other than as a question of grammar: the “I” that is part of language but has no life of its own. At the same time, Rubashov does, on some level, sense the vitality of such a “grammatical abstraction.” Indeed, the “first person singular” is actually opposed to other kinds of abstraction in that it arises in such particular circumstances: when Rubashov thinks of particular memories of his own life, and when he thinks about certain personalities he’s known in the past. Multi-sensory memories tend to accompany the intrusion of the “grammatical fiction,” from smell to sight to touch. The list that Rubashov makes up will come to be a kind of refrain of individual characteristics for the rest of the novel.

The Second Hearing: 4 Quotes

He had sacrificed Arlova because his own existence was more valuable to the Revolution. That was the decisive argument his friends had used to convince him; the duty to keep oneself in reserve for later on was more important than the commandments of petty bourgeois morality. For those who had changed the face of history, there was no other duty than to stay here and be ready. “You can do what you like with me,” Arlova had said, and so he had done. Why should he treat himself with more consideration?

Related Characters: Nicholas Salmanovitch Rubashov (speaker), Arlova
Page Number: 128-129
Explanation and Analysis:

Rubashov continues to muse about the relationship between the status of individual people and the collective goals of the revolutionary society. He’s beginning to sense, even if only implicitly, a contradiction in the Party’s espousal of using any means necessary to achieve collective ends: these ends always include the safety and security of those individuals who happen to be in power. Arlova was not, then, just sacrificed on behalf of something greater than herself, but on behalf of one other person, Rubashov. The Party doesn’t seem to have an answer to this contradiction, other than to continue to insist that the Party leadership perfectly embodies the goals of the collective. Now, though, Rubashov is beginning to see that even this logic must ultimately apply to himself if he continues to insist on being consistent and intellectually rigorous. He too, perhaps, will have to face the laws of history and be judged according to them, even if those laws of history end up having particular faces, like that of No. 1.

The Second Hearing: 6 Quotes

Up till now, he had never imagined Arlova’s death in such detail. It had always been for him an abstract occurrence; it had left him with a feeling of strong uneasiness, but he had never doubted the logical rightness of his behavior. Now, in the nausea which turned his stomach and drove the wet perspiration from his forehead, his past mode of thought seemed lunacy. The whimpering of Bogrov unbalanced the logical equation.

Related Characters: Nicholas Salmanovitch Rubashov (speaker), Arlova, Michael Bogrov
Page Number: 145
Explanation and Analysis:

As Bogrov was led along the corridor on his way to be executed, he shouted out Rubashov’s name. As a result, Rubashov—who is familiar with such executions from his own time as interrogator and dictator—is forced to face the material, physical, and sensory nature of being led to one’s death. The notion of death as an abstract necessity in the interest of a larger, collective cause now gives way to the concrete horror of having to face one’s death or having to face one’s own responsibility for another’s death. The fact that Rubashov does begin to feel responsible for Bogrov, who is one of the people he didn’t actually betray personally, suggests that Rubashov is beginning to have a broader sense of his general role in perpetrating Party violence, even indirectly.

The “logical equation” of actions in pursuit of certain goals has always seemed airtight to Rubashov, but it no longer seems so. The public, performative nature of Bogrov’s death that serves the Party (as a warning to others and example of its own power) also creates a kind of stage on which Rubashov can set his own changing theories.

The Second Hearing: 7 Quotes

“History is a priori amoral; it has no conscience. To want to conduct history according to the maxims of the Sunday school means to leave everything as it is. You know that as well as I do. You know the stakes in this game, and here you come talking about Bogrov’s whimpering….”

Related Characters: Ivanov (speaker), Nicholas Salmanovitch Rubashov, Michael Bogrov
Page Number: 156
Explanation and Analysis:

Ivanov and Rubashov continue their interrogation-cum-intellectual conversation. While Rubashov has kept the details of his concerns about the “grammatical fiction” to himself until now, at this point he’s just told Ivanov that Ivanov, having failed to hear Bogrov’s cry, can’t possibly understand that there may be limits to the Party’s logical reasoning. Ivanov, here, sounds quite a bit like Rubashov himself at earlier moments: he once again underlines the shared intellectual heritage with which they both began their time as members of the Party leadership. Referring to Sunday school, Ivanov again brings up Christianity as an alternative moral system, one that the Party claims to have quashed entirely—though it’s still present enough for the interrogator to have to point to it as a continuing danger, a weakness against which diligent Party members must militate. Indeed, Ivanov seems to chide Rubashov, reminding him that Ivanov is not saying anything Rubashov doesn’t already know. For Ivanov, Rubashov’s newfound humanitarian conscience is not the beginning of an alternately imagined society, but a passé weakness that he must conquer in order to remember what is most important, that is, the power of the revolutionary society (or at least its leaders).

“We whip the groaning masses of the country towards a theoretical future happiness, which only we can see. For the energies of this generation are exhausted; they were spent in the Revolution; for this generation is bled white and there is nothing left of it but a moaning, numbed, apathetic lump of sacrificial flesh….Those are the consequences of our consequentialness.”

Related Characters: Nicholas Salmanovitch Rubashov (speaker), Ivanov
Page Number: 162
Explanation and Analysis:

Still enmeshed in a fervent intellectual conversation with his interrogator, Rubashov responds to Ivanov’s points with a rousing performance, one in which he uses the rhetorical and strategic skills he’s developed in service of the Party (as a diplomat abroad, for instance) to portray what he sees as the historical arc of the revolution. Rubashov refers to the revolution as the moment of greatest idealism, when it seemed like a happy future would come into being. But Rubashov refers to his and Ivanov’s generation, the one that put the revolution into action, as a “lump of sacrificial flesh.” Again employing religious imagery, Rubashov suggests that their sacrifices are no longer for the future happiness of the masses, but to preserve the numb stasis of the present, in which the many are “whipped” by the few. Rubashov does see the revolution as incredibly consequential, with sweeping effects throughout the country, if not the world, but he’s begun to see such pervasive effects as devastating rather than productive.

“We all thought one could treat history like one experiments in physics. The difference is that in physics one can repeat the experiment a thousand times, but in history only once.”

Related Characters: Nicholas Salmanovitch Rubashov (speaker), Ivanov
Page Number: 164
Explanation and Analysis:

In an earlier section of the book, Rubashov himself employed the language of science and experimentation in order to discuss how he, a loyal and powerful member of the Party leadership, ended up imprisoned. Now he shares with Ivanov some of the results of his theorizing: he’s come to see that it’s not necessarily that the Party’s ideology and logic were ultimately correct but simply misapplied or mistakenly dealt with vis-à-vis Rubashov, but rather that there is a flaw within the ideological assumptions themselves. Rubashov has also previously taken pride in the impeccable logical reasoning that has enabled the Party to succeed in a communist revolution like no place else. Yet now he realizes that what the Party thinks of as the laws of history don’t work just like the laws of physics: first, because history can’t be repeated, and second, because human beings are involved. Of course, history can be treated like a physics experiment—and it has been, Rubashov argues—but the result is that individuals are manipulated or destroyed.

The Third Hearing: 1 Quotes

“In periods of maturity it is the duty and the function of the opposition to appeal to the masses. In periods of mental immaturity, only demagogues invoke the ‘higher judgment of the people.’ In such situations the opposition has two alternatives: to seize the power by a coup d’état, without being able to count on the support of the masses, or in mute despair to throw themselves out of the swing—‘to die in silence.’ There is a third choice which is no less consistent, and which in our country has been developed into a system: the denial and suppression of one’s own conviction when there is no prospect of materializing it.”

Related Characters: Nicholas Salmanovitch Rubashov (speaker)
Page Number: 173-174
Explanation and Analysis:

Once again, a section of the novel opens with an excerpt from Rubashov’s diary, where he continues to attempt to work out the implications of his own position. Now, far more than earlier, he seems to consider his role as a member of the opposition (an identity that, after denying it as an accusation made by others, he has slowly started to claim as his own). Here he also continues to develop an intellectual theory, what he will call the “theory of relative maturity,” that will help him account for what went awry between the idealistic days of the revolution and now. The country now finds itself, he argues, in a period of mental immaturity. This assertion shows Rubashov’s continued elitism and sense of superiority with respect to the masses. Indeed, he thinks that by appealing to the masses—even if that’s just a cover for its own power—the Party has lost the intellectual thrust that used to define it.

In listing the options available to the opposition, Rubashov first postulates a coup, which he knows to be impossible, given the fractured, exhausted state of the surviving old guard. Then he considers the injunction to “die in silence” given to him by the barber. Finally, he ponders the realization he’s beginning to have about the way ideology permeates through all action and even thought. He recognizes that he himself has internalized this ideology so much that it’s grown almost impossible for him to know what he truly believes and what he’s coached himself into saying and thinking. This is not just an individual choice, he concludes: it’s one that has become a “system,” one that fits exactly into the Party’s own interests, but also profoundly complicates the ability to ever know what is true and what is false.

The Third Hearing: 3 Quotes

Instead of the old portraits, a light patch shone from Ivanov’s wallpaper; philosophical incendiarism had given place to a period of wholesome sterility. Revolutionary theory had frozen to a dogmatic cult, with a simplified, easily graspable catechism, and with No. 1 as the high priest celebrating the Mass.

Related Characters: Nicholas Salmanovitch Rubashov (speaker), Ivanov, No. 1
Related Symbols: No. 1’s Portrait
Page Number: 179-180
Explanation and Analysis:

Rubashov is waiting to be interrogated by Ivanov again, and as he waits he thinks again about the changes that have taken place between the time of the revolution and the time of his imprisonment. There is abundant visual and material evidence of these changes. The libraries, for instance, have been purged of the books that tell any story of the revolution other than what the Party wants to be the truth (and, in particular, what No. 1 wants to hear). In this quotation, the same is true for the replacement of certain portraits with others, or their removal entirely: this is a literal erasure of history. Rubashov is coming to terms here with the contradictions inherent to the ideology of a group that claims to represent and fulfill history, but then changes and tweaks the truth whenever historical reality doesn’t fit its own purposes.

Rubashov also takes issue with the replacement of idealistic, intellectually driven leaders (ones steeped in political thought and communist theory) with a static, “sterile” set of doctrines that cannot be questioned or debated. Although Rubashov has tried to find in Christian symbolism a way out of the ideological dominance of the Party, here he thinks about Party doctrine as simply another kind of state religion. This sense of religion has to do less with the emphasis on individual sovereignty, as discussed elsewhere, and more with the powerful institution of the church (such as the Orthodox Church in Russia), which—like No. 1—speaks for all people through a powerful hierarchy and denies any ability to challenge this hierarchy.

If history were a matter of calculation, how much did the sum of two thousand nightmares weigh, the pressure of a two-thousandfold helpless craving? Now he really felt the sisterly scent of Arlova; his body under the woolen blanket was covered with sweat….

Related Characters: Nicholas Salmanovitch Rubashov (speaker), Arlova
Page Number: 185
Explanation and Analysis:

Rubashov’s thoughts return to Arlova as he continues to grapple with the incommensurable ways of measuring individual suffering and collective striving. He himself has argued that history is a matter of calculation, a kind of science experiment, though he has also more recently challenged Ivanov’s espousal of that very concept of history. Now he almost ironically tries to imagine what it would look like to think of history not as abstract cause and effect, not as a physics experiment with “x” and “y” variables, but as an actual calculation of human suffering and desire. This is what makes him think back to Arlova and the individual idiosyncrasies of her body and his memories from the affair he had with her before he betrayed her. Again, it is through senses like smell and touch that Rubashov is convinced that abstract reasoning can be dangerously incomplete.

Gletkin read straight on, stiffly and with deadly monotony. Did he really believe what he was reading? Was he not aware of the grotesque absurdity of the text?

Related Characters: Nicholas Salmanovitch Rubashov (speaker), Gletkin
Page Number: 191-192
Explanation and Analysis:

Gletkin is reading through the list of charges brought against Rubashov, which include the accusation that Rubashov plotted to have No. 1 murdered. Now that the interrogator is Gletkin instead of Ivanov, the tone of the examination has shifted. There’s no sense of banter or intellectual conviviality between Gletkin and Rubashov, nor does it seem evident to both parties that this is a performance that needs to happen rather than a deadly serious accusation with a real, historical basis.

Rubashov is struck by this difference, especially given what he considers to be the absurd claims leveled against him. He finds it difficult to believe not so much that the Party would make dramatic accusations of his guilt and treason, but rather that someone could actually believe them. To Rubashov, these kinds of accusations make sense as a matter of expediency, as means enacted in order to further the Party cause: this is how Rubashov has used accusations in the past himself. But the framework seems to be shifting—now the Party line is not a convenient mask but an insisted-upon truth that holds no room for knowing irony or casual treatment.

“Rubashov laughed at my father, and repeated that he was a fool and a Don Quixote. Then he declared that No. 1 was no accidental phenomenon, but the embodiment of a certain human characteristic—namely, of an absolute belief in the infallibility of one’s own conviction, from which he drew the strength for his complete unscrupulousness.”

Related Characters: Hare-lip (Young Kieffer) (speaker), Nicholas Salmanovitch Rubashov, Professor Kieffer
Page Number: 208
Explanation and Analysis:

Hare-lip has been brought in by Gletkin, presumably after having been tortured, in order to rehearse an accusation against Rubashov. Rubashov has been in something resembling Hare-lip’s position before: Rubashov falsely betrayed Arlova, and now he himself has been falsely accused. As the center of his story, Hare-lip uses a meeting between Rubashov and Hare-lip’s father, Profssor Kieffer, who was executed for refusing to change the history books in response to changing “necessities” of the Party.

Rubashov, in this anecdote, comes across as a pragmatist—he is willing to laugh and roll his eyes at No. 1, at least among friends, while also continuing to work in the service of the cause. That’s why he calls Kieffer a “Don Quixote”: he refers to the Cervantes character who pursues a hopeless quest because of his naïve idealism (this reference comes up, in fact, several times in the novel). The anecdote also serves as a reminder of Rubashov’s insistence on thinking in logical, abstract terms, even as he’s coming to question what the implications of this type of thinking are. He takes No. 1’s attitude not just as a quirk, but as indicative of a broader trend, one that can perhaps define totalitarian dictators. It’s uncertain how Hare-lip overheard this conversation, and it’s clear that what Rubashov really meant is up for question, but, in this environment of constant surveillance, such critiques are all too dangerous.

The Third Hearing: 6 Quotes

“The policy of the opposition is wrong. Your task is therefore to make the opposition contemptible; to make the masses understand that opposition is a crime and that the leaders of the opposition are criminals. That is the simple language which the masses understand. If you begin to talk of your complicated motives, you will only create confusion amongst them.”

Related Characters: Gletkin (speaker), Nicholas Salmanovitch Rubashov
Page Number: 243
Explanation and Analysis:

As Gletkin instructs Rubashov in the use Rubashov can play for the Party, Gletkin emphasizes direct, clear messages without ambiguity. Little could be further from the way Rubashov once thought about communist ideology, which was intellectually rich enough to foster debate and disagreement. Now logic continues to be considered the goal to strive for, but it’s a kind of logic that pares down any complexity into discrete, replicable steps. Gletkin also emphasizes the importance of performance and rhetorical skill in convincing the masses of the truth. Indeed, it’s not altogether clear whether Gletkin fervently believes that what Rubashov is being tried for is the truth or whether Gletkin really is simply pragmatic and means-focused, dedicated to considering truth as a function of Party necessity, just as Ivanov and Rubashov had been. The novel contains evidence for both notions; one way of reconciling them would be to say that in the framework in which Gletkin is working, there is no difference between truth as historical reality and truth as convenient fiction—the boundaries have blurred too much.

The Grammatical Fiction: 1 Quotes

“Covered with shame, trampled in the dust, about to die, I will describe to you the sad progress of a traitor, that it may serve as a lesson and terrifying example to the millions of our country…”

Related Characters: Nicholas Salmanovitch Rubashov (speaker), Vera Wassiljovna
Page Number: 249
Explanation and Analysis:

While these are the words of Rubashov at his trial, it is Vera, Wassilij’s daughter, who is speaking them to her father, since the transcript of Rubashov’s trial has been printed in the newspaper for all to read and learn of his crimes. Indeed, this is the idea behind the very public nature of the confessions. It is not enough for the Party to simply root out examples of nonconforming thought and behavior among the citizens and to torture or imprison any dissidents. Dissidents cannot be shut away from society because the idea that the masses are a collective group that is unanimous in its thoughts and opinions is what justifies the fact that the masses are “led” by a small, powerful group. With the masses united, the leadership can claim to speak on behalf of everyone, but when one person dissents from the official line, this is not just an individual crime that needs to be prosecuted, but a threat to the entire system and to the ideological basis of the country. As a result, people like Rubashov need to perform their own guilt in front of everyone, repenting of their nonconforming ideas and allowing those ideas to be publicly quashed by the collective.

“…After a short deliberation, the President read the sentence. The Council of the Supreme Revolutionary Court of Justice sentenced the accused in every case to the maximum penalty: death by shooting and the confiscation of all their personal property.”
The old man Wassilij stared at the rusty hook above his head. He murmured: “Thy will be done. Amen,” and turned to the wall.

Related Characters: Wassilij (speaker), Vera Wassiljovna (speaker), Nicholas Salmanovitch Rubashov
Related Symbols: Christian Symbolism
Page Number: 256
Explanation and Analysis:

Vera continues reading the trial transcript to her father, concluding with the inevitable death sentence. While Vera’s engrossment in the story makes it seem to be a tale of powerful suspense, Wassilij understands the transcript for what it is—an inevitable rehearsal of a performance that is meant to bolster the power of No. 1. Wassilij is elderly and has lived through the Revolution, which means he was raised in a very different society, one in which Christianity was still a permitted (and even common) belief system. Wassilij has refused to let go of these beliefs. Indeed, when Wassilij thinks of Rubashov—whom Wassilij continues to admire and respect, even though Rubashov has now fallen from favor—he compares Rubashov to Jesus Christ.

In fact, the ritualistic quality of the confession and sentencing can be understood, from Wassilij’s point of view, as a rewriting of the Passion of Christ, the final days and hours before Jesus was crucified as told in the Gospels. Christian doctrine states that Jesus had to be crucified in order to be sacrificed for humanity: Wassilij evidently understands Rubashov, too, as a sacrificial victim, even if he doesn’t believe that collective good will result from Rubashov’s death. While the book does show several cases (from Wassilij to the imprisoned peasant) of those who refuse to conform to Party ideology, these people are fractured and alone, largely condemned to silence in the face of an all-powerful totalitarianism.

The Grammatical Fiction: 2 Quotes

They were too deeply entangled in their own past, caught in the web they had spun themselves, according to the laws of their own twisted ethics and twisted logic; they were all guilty, although not of those deeds of which they accused themselves.

Related Characters: Nicholas Salmanovitch Rubashov (speaker)
Page Number: 258
Explanation and Analysis:

As he prepares to die, Rubashov thinks of his comrades who also believed that they were acting in the service of a larger, collective cause, and who found themselves undone and betrayed by that very system. He has a sharp sense of the irony of his situation: not only does he, who once unthinkingly betrayed people in the service of the Party, now find himself condemned by that same logic, but he also recognizes that the historical laws which he considered so valuable and impervious are actually subject to individual, fallible interpretation. Here Rubashov even goes so far as to imply that these laws are not laws of history (as the comrades thought) but rather human laws, which explains why the laws can be massaged so easily depending on who is in power. Rubashov’s thoughts about guilt also suggest a different kind of intellectual and ideological framework from communism, one in which personal and collective responsibility is far greater than in a logical, means-based system. Now Rubashov thinks that all people bear some responsibility for the crimes of some.

The individual stood under the sign of economic fatality, a wheel in a clockwork which had been wound up for all eternity and could not be stopped or influenced—and the Party demanded that the wheel should revolt against the clockwork and change its course. There was somewhere an error in the calculation; the equation did not work out.

Related Characters: Nicholas Salmanovitch Rubashov (speaker)
Page Number: 262-263
Explanation and Analysis:

In the hours before his death, Rubashov returns to some of the tenets of communist ideology in order to, once again, try to see what went wrong and how he might account for the Party’s fall from idealism into brutality. In fact, the suggestion here is that this fall was not a mistake but was rather an inevitable result of the internal contradictions of communist ideology, which saw no room for individual rights and yet relied on individual power and sacrifice.

Rubashov also refers to “economic fatality,” which, in communist thought, refers to the idea that all cultural, social, and political affairs are ultimately determined by economics. He notes that there is also a contradiction here: while this framework of thought claims to unmask the inevitable, unshakeable laws behind history and politics via economic analysis, it simultaneously proposes to destroy economic concerns through revolution. Is history inevitably determined by collective economic relationships, or is its course subject to modification by individual actors? The Party has tried to have it both ways, Rubashov implies, and violence and destruction were the result.

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Nicholas Salmanovitch Rubashov Character Timeline in Darkness at Noon

The timeline below shows where the character Nicholas Salmanovitch Rubashov appears in Darkness at Noon. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
The First Hearing: 1
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A door slams behind the protagonist, Rubashov, and he’s left in his prison cell. The cell has solid brick walls, a straw... (full context)
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Rubashov stretches out on his mat, deciding that it will probably be a few days before... (full context)
The First Hearing: 2
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Rubashov had been arrested an hour earlier: the knock on his door woke him from his... (full context)
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The hammering had continued on the door but Rubashov couldn’t wake up: in the dream, as usual, he tried to put on his clothes... (full context)
The First Hearing: 3
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...on his neck from the Civil War, also stands fearfully at the door. He and Rubashov had been in the same regiment: now his daughter occasionally reads Rubashov’s speeches to him... (full context)
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...be quiet, which he does. The younger officer kicks open the door and stands by Rubashov’s bed. Rubashov looks at them sleepily as they announce that they’re arresting him, “Citizen Rubashov,... (full context)
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The young boy clearly revels in brutality: ironically, Rubashov thinks about the fine generation coming up behind him. He orders the boy to pass... (full context)
The First Hearing: 4
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...in a new American car, which jolts the three of them through the dark streets. Rubashov remarks that such foreign cars are so expensive, and the roads ruin them. The official... (full context)
The First Hearing: 5
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The colorless electric light shines bleakly over the new prison. Rubashov tries to convince himself that this is all a dream: he tries so hard that... (full context)
The First Hearing: 6
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The warder regularly peers into Rubashov’s room. At 7 a.m. the bugle sounds, then cedes to silence. He knows he’s in... (full context)
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Rubashov says to himself that he’s the last of the old guard, about to be destroyed.... (full context)
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Rubashov can’t bring himself to hate No. 1—the only name that’s stuck for the leader—though he’s... (full context)
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Rubashov feels that he’s being watched: a minute later the warder enters and asks why Rubashov... (full context)
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Rubashov tries to picture a cross-section of the leader’s brain and can’t manage it: this is... (full context)
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Rubashov hears marching steps outside, and he waits for the scream that will indicate torture. He... (full context)
The First Hearing: 7
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The warder is coming along the even-rowed cells now and Rubashov is looking forward to a cup of hot tea, but they skip his cell and... (full context)
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The warder tells Rubashov that he hasn’t cleaned his cell, and Rubashov remains seated, saying he has no desire... (full context)
The First Hearing: 8
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Rubashov tries to hate the warder, but finds himself imagining the scene (a prisoner once great... (full context)
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Rubashov reminds himself that revolutionaries shouldn’t imagine themselves into other people’s minds, but then he asks... (full context)
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Rubashov taps out his name, and smiles at the long pause. He’s probably afraid, Rubashov thinks:... (full context)
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Now Rubashov realizes that No. 402 is a “conformist:” he believes in the infallibility of history and... (full context)
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Then 402 taps out “LONG LIVE H.M. THE EMPEROR,” and Rubashov realizes that there are, in fact, real counter-revolutionaries in this society: they’re not just scapegoats... (full context)
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Rubashov wearies of the game, but he doesn’t want to offend No. 402, who keeps tapping,... (full context)
The First Hearing: 9
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Rubashov thinks of a time, not long before his arrest, when he went to a picture... (full context)
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Rubashov paces up and down his cell as he remembers sitting on the plush sofa in... (full context)
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Richard told Rubashov about Anny’s arrest while Rubashov stared at a “Last Judgment” painting behind him. Then Rubashov... (full context)
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Steps are approaching in the prison corridor: Rubashov sees a peasant with a swollen eye being locked into a cell. Rubashov thinks himself... (full context)
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...distressed and stammering, Richard said that the tone of the Party’s propaganda material was wrong. Rubashov ordered him to calm down, as a uniformed man strutted in with his girlfriend. Rubashov... (full context)
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Rubashov said that certain consequences would come from Richard’s decision. Reddening, Richard told Rubashov that he... (full context)
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But Rubashov ignored Richard, saying that the last Party congress announced that the Party didn’t suffer defeat,... (full context)
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Rubashov listed the various wrong-headed elements written in Richard’s pamphlets, stating that one cannot lead politics... (full context)
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Richard raced outside as Rubashov was hailing a taxi, asking if that was a warning. Again beginning to stammer, Richard... (full context)
The First Hearing: 10
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Rubashov realizes that he’s been pacing for four hours, but he knows the power of day-dreams... (full context)
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Using the code, Rubashov asks No. 402 who that prisoner and the older man next to him are. 402... (full context)
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Rubashov feels almost refreshed at knowing what is in store for him, calling to mind everything... (full context)
The First Hearing: 11
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Rubashov feels a strong desire for a cigarette, and he hammers on the door until the... (full context)
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Rubashov asks No. 402 for tobacco, but he says there’s none for him. Rubashov thinks 402... (full context)
The First Hearing: 12
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Rubashov feels sicker as the day goes on. He’s overwhelmed by memories of the movement and... (full context)
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Rubashov thinks of a photo of the first Party congress, where each delegate sat around a... (full context)
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Rubashov thinks of another person who died on his watch—Little Loewy in the old Belgian port,... (full context)
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After two weeks, Rubashov, still on crutches, had asked for a new mission abroad. No. 1 had noticed he... (full context)
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Later, alone, Little Loewy had told Rubashov about his life, how he was born in southern Germany before the Dictatorship came to... (full context)
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Rubashov asked why Little Loewy was telling him this; he said it’s instructive—the Party is growing... (full context)
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Rubashov wished he could believe that all would end well, but he knew why Little Loewy... (full context)
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...Party again called for trade sanctions, this time of raw materials, vital to the aggressor. Rubashov was sent to Belgium to prepare the dockworkers for the arrival of another Russian fleet,... (full context)
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On the second day Rubashov began a meeting in the Party offices, which were untidy and ugly, as they were... (full context)
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...lowly workers, who have to deal with “your little transactions.” The dockhands are surprised, but Rubashov is ready and says it’s politically and geographically useful. The dockhands slowly realize what’s going... (full context)
The First Hearing: 13
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Rubashov shivers, unable to sleep, thinking of Little Loewy asking at the meeting who else would... (full context)
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The next morning the bugle awakens Rubashov and he’s led out of his cell to the doctor. They pass the barber’s shop,... (full context)
The First Hearing: 14
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The warder comes to take Rubashov out of his cell. They pass a spiral staircase, cross a narrow, windowless courtyard, and... (full context)
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Ivanov asks how Rubashov’s burn is, pointing at his hand, and Rubashov wonders how he knows that, feeling more... (full context)
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Rubashov says that the “we” needs redefining today. Ivanov suggests that Rubashov believes that the Party,... (full context)
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Rubashov says that “you” have killed the “We.” He asks if Ivanov really thinks the masses... (full context)
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Ivanov wants to return to more concrete facts: that Rubashov thinks that the Party and State no longer represent the interests of the Revolution (that... (full context)
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Ivanov takes out a folder and recalls the tale of Rubashov’s foreign affairs projects in 1933. He asks why, after only a fortnight back home after... (full context)
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Arlova, at her trial, referred to Rubashov in order to be cleared. It was only when the Party sent Rubashov an ultimatum... (full context)
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Ivanov says that he’s not moralizing when he says Rubashov’s statements were just means to an end: they grew up in the same tradition, and... (full context)
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Ivanov reminds Rubashov that it was Rubashov who convinced him that suicide was a petty bourgeois, romantic idea.... (full context)
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Ivanov says that he knew Rubashov would stall and that he won’t give away anyone from such a confession. Rubashov deduces... (full context)
The Second Hearing: 1
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This section is an extract from Rubashov’s diary on the fifth day of his imprisonment. It says that the one who will... (full context)
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...must be punished by death. There is no private sphere, not even within one’s mind. Rubashov too was part of this process: but he and the others are doing the work... (full context)
The Second Hearing: 2
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...and he slouches; Gletkin is formal and serious in his starched uniform. Ivanov says that Rubashov is as logical as ever, so he’ll eventually capitulate. They need to leave him in... (full context)
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...mind the logical necessity of it, Gletkin tells Ivanov: otherwise one becomes a cynic. Now Rubashov is as harmful as that fat peasant. Ivanov says in his official tone that he’s... (full context)
The Second Hearing: 3
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Rubashov now has paper, pencil, soap and a towel, and he can order cigarettes and food... (full context)
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Rubashov has always prided himself on his self-awareness, harboring no illusions about what he calls the... (full context)
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Meanwhile, Rubashov’s “first-person singular” remains silent, composed of disconnected parts: the hands of the Pietà, Little Loewy’s... (full context)
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Rubashov remembers breathing in the smell of his Trade Delegation office, along with that of Arlova’s... (full context)
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One day Rubashov asked, while dictating, why Arlova never said anything. She sleepily replied that she would henceforth... (full context)
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...day Arlova would sit bent over the desk, and at night would lie silhouetted against Rubashov’s bedroom curtain. Once in awhile he would add sarcastic asides and jokes to his dictation:... (full context)
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...no evil intent: the meeting ended with the decision to give her a “serious warning.” Rubashov began to feel uneasy, and he stopped making snide comments while dictating, or putting his... (full context)
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After a week, Arlova stopped coming to Rubashov’s apartment, saying that she had a migraine. He didn’t press her further. She only came... (full context)
The Second Hearing: 4
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No. 406, Rubashov’s new neighbor, keeps tapping a note with the same spelling mistake, “ARIE, YE WRETCHED OF... (full context)
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Rubashov is taken that afternoon to be shaved. The barber works quickly, and Rubashov feels happy,... (full context)
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Rubashov knows that he sacrificed Arlova because he himself was more valuable to the Revolution: a... (full context)
The Second Hearing: 5
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On the 11th day Rubashov is first taken to the yard to exercise. The warder tells him the regulations, including... (full context)
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Back in the building, the old man looks back at Rubashov with a hopeless look. Rubashov tries to tap at him in the cell, but he... (full context)
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...move back inside, the expression of fear returns to No. 406, and he whispers to Rubashov that he was put in the wrong train, and they thought he didn’t notice. He... (full context)
The Second Hearing: 6
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Two weeks minus a day after Ivanov’s proposal, Rubashov senses a tense atmosphere, despite the routine daily events. He strikes up a conversation with... (full context)
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The silence grows more unnatural. Rubashov stares at his feet and moves his toes, which seem uncanny: he’s suddenly aware of... (full context)
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No. 402 relays, “NOW,” and along the corridor comes a low drumming, which Rubashov joins. The sound rises, and he loses the sense of time and space. Figures enter... (full context)
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Rubashov lies in bed, thinking about that last cry. He asks himself what they did to... (full context)
The Second Hearing: 7
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Rubashov wakes up from a dream of his first arrest in enemy country to find a... (full context)
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When Ivanov asks why, Rubashov says that Ivanov made sure that Bogrov, whom Ivanov knew was Rubashov’s friend, would be... (full context)
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Ivanov asks if Rubashov would capitulate if he became convinced of the logical necessity of doing so. When Rubashov... (full context)
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Rubashov paces back and forth, feeling helpless. He knows that what Ivanov calls his “moral exaltation”... (full context)
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After a while, Rubashov asks Ivanov why he executed Bogrov. Ivanov says it’s because of the submarine question. Bogrov... (full context)
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Ivanov is unaffected, but the cries continue to echo in Rubashov’s head, along with the image of the curve of Arlova’s breast. It’s no use weeping... (full context)
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Rubashov watches Ivanov drink and notes how much he can handle: Ivanov does need consolation, Rubashov... (full context)
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Rubashov takes a swig of brandy and Ivanov smiles, saying he’s content to take one of... (full context)
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...social action, like sacrificing a patrolling party to save a regiment at war, for instance. Rubashov says that examples of war are of abnormal circumstances, but Ivanov says that since the... (full context)
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...them, but in practice that’s impossible—besides, no state has ever followed a truly Christian politics. Rubashov, shrugging, says that humanism and politics are incompatible, to be sure, but where does the... (full context)
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...that they’re the first to make a revolution in a consequent way, not as dilettantes. Rubashov agrees, saying that as a result of such consequence they’ve let 5 million farmers die... (full context)
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...that such a project is not for the weak at heart, but it once excited Rubashov: what changed? Rubsahov wants to respond that Bogrov called out his name, but, since he... (full context)
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Ivanov yawns, stretches, and limps over to Rubashov, where he tries to tell Rubashov that he’s not telling him anything he doesn’t know.... (full context)
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...visits Gletkin, who is working through the night. He’s had to undo Gletkin’s damage, but Rubashov will bend, Ivanov says. When Gletkin says he, unlike Rubashov, has a backbone, Ivanov calls... (full context)
The Third Hearing: 1
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In an extract from Rubashov’s diary, on the 20th day of his imprisonment, he writes that Bogrov has fallen off... (full context)
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Rubashov writes that at every step of technical progress the masses need to be re-educated: at... (full context)
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Rubashov writes that in mature periods, the opposition has the duty to appeal to the masses,... (full context)
The Third Hearing: 2
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Rubashov continues to write, his handwriting becoming disciplined again after growing wild and unsteady over the... (full context)
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Rubashov takes a nap. When he wakes up, No. 402 is tapping eagerly at him. Smiling,... (full context)
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Rubashov reads over the letter to the Public Prosecutor of the Republic that he’s written, vowing... (full context)
The Third Hearing: 3
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Rubashov wonders why it’s taking so long to be taken to Ivanov. He smiles at the... (full context)
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Rubashov knows that today’s “theorists” would find his letter to be heresy: he criticized the doctrine’s... (full context)
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Rubashov’s toothache is gone and he feels nervously impatient. He continues to work, but has to... (full context)
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Then two uniformed officials enter Rubashov’s cell and order him to follow them. He’s taken the same way as Bogrov had... (full context)
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In a monotone, Gletkin tells Rubashov to sit down and then says that he will examine Rubashov in Ivanov’s absence. Rubashov... (full context)
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Rubashov says he’s ready to make a statement, but only if Gletkin stops the tricks and... (full context)
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Rubashov says he’ll do anything to serve the Party, but he wants to know what the... (full context)
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Rubashov looks at the small, thin stenographer in the corner, clearly convinced by the accusations. The... (full context)
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Gletkin says that this is nothing new: Rubashov has made similar statements two years ago, then twelve months ago. Rubashov says he made... (full context)
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Rubashov recognizes that Gletkin is right not to believe him: he himself is now lost in... (full context)
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Rubashov’s memory flags: later he thinks he may have fallen asleep, dreaming of luminous landscapes and... (full context)
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Gletkin turns to Hare-lip, who says in a deep, resounding voice, that Citizen Rubashov ordered him to poison the Party’s leader. Rubashov met him after a reception in the... (full context)
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...continues, saying that his father and he had made a detour to B to visit Rubashov: Rubashov remembers that this was correct. That evening they all met at Rubashov’s house, where... (full context)
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...talked scornfully about the present state of affairs of the party. Kieffer had laughed at Rubashov’s decision to make a declaration of loyalty to No. 1, and Rubashov had called him... (full context)
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Then Gletkin asks Hare-lip if what followed was Rubashov’s direct instigation to violence. After a silence, Gletkin asks if Hare-lip needs his memory jogged.... (full context)
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Rubashov, after confirming that he has the right to ask questions, asks Hare-lip if he’d just... (full context)
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Hare-lip looks at Gletkin in fear and astonishment. Rubashov feels fleetingly triumphant, but the feeling vanishes. Quietly, Gletkin says no one asserted that the... (full context)
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Now Rubashov feels indifferent about this too. Whoever opposes a dictatorship must accept civil war, and vice... (full context)
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Feeling sleepy himself, Rubashov reads through his statement, feels a sudden desire to tear it up, then returns it... (full context)
The Third Hearing: 4
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Rubashov can only recall fragments of his dialogue with Gletkin. He’s reminded that he has heard... (full context)
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Rubashov realizes that he’s meant to confess to seven points: he’s confessed so far to only... (full context)
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Once, for instance, Gletkin questions Rubashov about negotiating with a foreign power for the opposition, to overthrow the regime, and Rubashov... (full context)
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Rubashov recognizes that Gletkin is a proletarian by origin, since Gletkin’s halting style shows that he... (full context)
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Rubashov thinks about how the whole activity of the opposition had been “senile chatter” and no... (full context)
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Rubashov then asks Gletkin why, since he’s been known to use harsh physical methods, he didn’t... (full context)
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Rubashov has only one other desire, that Gletkin let him sleep and come to his senses.... (full context)
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...goes on, Gletkin, too, seems to change, his voice losing its former brutality. Once, when Rubashov’s cigarettes ran out after a few hours, Gletkin (who doesn’t smoke) passed a packet to... (full context)
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After the stenographer leaves, Gletkin asks why Rubashov is so stubbornly denying that he used industrial sabotage, one of the opposition’s most effective... (full context)
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Gletkin asks if Rubashov was given a watch as a boy: astonished, he says yes. Gletkin says he never... (full context)
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Rubashov admits that Gletkin may be right, but he asks what use it is to invent... (full context)
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Ivanov, Gletkin says, was shot in an administrative decision last night. Gletkin lets Rubashov sleep for two full hours. The news of Ivanov’s death has only made Rubashov tired... (full context)
The Third Hearing: 5
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In another fragment from Rubashov’s diary, he compares his generation to the apes that looked mockingly on the first Neanderthals... (full context)
The Third Hearing: 6
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After five or six days Rubashov faints during an accusation as they’re talking about his motives. A few minutes later he... (full context)
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Rubashov walks next to the peasant again, who says he hasn’t seen Rubashov for a while.... (full context)
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Rubashov is taken back to Gletkin’s room, and he realizes it’s only been an hour. This... (full context)
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Gletkin again cites from Rubashov’s diary, saying that repetition and simplification is necessary for the masses. Gletkin tells him that... (full context)
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Gletkin continues that Rubashov’s faction is destroyed, and now the Party can continue united. Rubashov’s task is to avoid... (full context)
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Rubashov signs the statement, and looks up to the portrait of No. 1, remembering the look... (full context)
The Grammatical Fiction: 1
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The porter Wassilij’s daughter reads to her father about Rubashov’s trial and his public confession. She reads that he’s guilty as a counter-revolutionary and member... (full context)
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The daughter reads that Rubashov had described how his story proves that the slightest bend from the Party line inevitably... (full context)
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Recalling Rubashov’s former life, being carried through the streets triumphantly, Wassilij mumbles a Bible verse about Jesus... (full context)
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...one has to. She adds that the cell secretary has asked how long he and Rubashov were friends. Wassilij asks her to give him the damn paper, and he writes his... (full context)
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...and dozes, waking up as she reads about Kieffer’s stammering attempt to throw guilt onto Rubashov entirely. Then she reads Rubashov’s final speech, which says that he bows to the masses... (full context)
The Grammatical Fiction: 2
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Rubashov paces his cell, knowing that before midnight he’ll be dead. During the trial, he’d been... (full context)
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Rubashov thinks that they were all guilty, though not of the deeds they were accused of.... (full context)
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Rubashov has been thinking over certain puzzles, the meaning of suffering, and the difference between meaningful... (full context)
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At times Rubashov remembers a tune, or the folded hands of the Pietà, or certain childhood memories, and... (full context)
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Rubashov recalls astrophysics research arguing that the world’s volume is finite, even if space has no... (full context)
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Rubashov recognizes that the Party considers the infinite suspect, and even fails to recognize its existence.... (full context)
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Rubashov thinks that for 40 years he’s been led astray by pure reason. Perhaps men should... (full context)
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Rubashov thinks that perhaps later a new movement will arise with a sense both of economic... (full context)
The Grammatical Fiction: 3
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A tapping from No. 402, who’s been silent since Rubashov said he was capitulating, tells him that they’re fetching Hare-lip, who sends Rubashov his greetings.... (full context)
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Rubashov walks with the officers down the cellar stairs in a spiral, into the darkness. He... (full context)
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A dull blow strikes the back of Rubashov’s head, and he thinks how theatrical it is, as he falls. Memories pass through him:... (full context)