Darkness at Noon

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Richard Character Analysis

Richard is the leader of the Communist Party in a region of the unnamed country (with all the characteristics of Germany) where Rubashov is fomenting revolutionary activity, and where he is later arrested. Richard is a loyal Party member, but after the dictatorship takes power in his country and begins to stamp out Communist activity, he tries to support the cause in his own way rather than through relying on Party pamphlets and directions. Richard thinks that the official Party line, emphasizing its strength even when everyone in Germany knows that the Party has been almost entirely quashed, will inevitably be unsuccessful. For Rubashov at the time, though, such a decision is little more than treason, and he denounces Richard. Richard, too, will become an example for Rubashov of a life that Rubashov sacrificed on behalf of the guiding Party logic, and thinking of Richard makes Rubashov begin to question whether it was worth it.

Richard Quotes in Darkness at Noon

The Darkness at Noon quotes below are all either spoken by Richard or refer to Richard. 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: 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).

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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.

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Richard Character Timeline in Darkness at Noon

The timeline below shows where the character Richard appears in Darkness at Noon. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
The First Hearing: 9
Ideology and Contradiction Theme Icon
The Individual, or the “Grammatical Fiction, vs. the Collective Theme Icon
...as he remembers sitting on the plush sofa in the art gallery. The young man, Richard, the leader of the Party in the town, came a few minutes late and noticed... (full context)
The Individual, or the “Grammatical Fiction, vs. the Collective Theme Icon
Logical Reasoning and Bureaucracy Theme Icon
Richard told Rubashov about Anny’s arrest while Rubashov stared at a “Last Judgment” painting behind him.... (full context)
Truth, Confession, and Performance Theme Icon
...being locked into a cell. Rubashov thinks himself back to the gallery, where he told Richard that the pamphlets Richard had made were known to the Central Committee and they contained... (full context)
The Individual, or the “Grammatical Fiction, vs. the Collective Theme Icon
Logical Reasoning and Bureaucracy Theme Icon
Increasingly distressed and stammering, Richard said that the tone of the Party’s propaganda material was wrong. Rubashov ordered him to... (full context)
Ideology and Contradiction Theme Icon
Truth, Confession, and Performance Theme Icon
Rubashov said that certain consequences would come from Richard’s decision. Reddening, Richard told Rubashov that he knew the material was full of nonsense, with... (full context)
Ideology and Contradiction Theme Icon
Change and the Laws of History Theme Icon
But Rubashov ignored Richard, saying that the last Party congress announced that the Party didn’t suffer defeat, it merely... (full context)
Ideology and Contradiction Theme Icon
Logical Reasoning and Bureaucracy Theme Icon
Change and the Laws of History Theme Icon
Rubashov listed the various wrong-headed elements written in Richard’s pamphlets, stating that one cannot lead politics in passion and despair, and that one false... (full context)
Ideology and Contradiction Theme Icon
Logical Reasoning and Bureaucracy Theme Icon
Richard raced outside as Rubashov was hailing a taxi, asking if that was a warning. Again... (full context)
The First Hearing: 10
Logical Reasoning and Bureaucracy Theme Icon
Truth, Confession, and Performance Theme Icon
...the steambath torture and picturing it so that he’s not caught unaware. His memory of Richard and the taxi-driver comes to mind, and he smiles, thinking he’ll pay his fare. He... (full context)
The First Hearing: 12
Ideology and Contradiction Theme Icon
Truth, Confession, and Performance Theme Icon
...old Belgian port, hunchbacked, smoking a pipe. It was two years after the affair with Richard and Rubashov’s own arrest: Rubashov had kept silent through the torture, denying everything coldly. He’d... (full context)
The First Hearing: 14
The Individual, or the “Grammatical Fiction, vs. the Collective Theme Icon
...his loyalty and acquiesced to Arlova’s fate. Rubashov does know her fate, as well as Richard’s, Little Loewy’s, and his own. He wonders what the point of all this is. Flatly,... (full context)
The Second Hearing: 3
The Individual, or the “Grammatical Fiction, vs. the Collective Theme Icon
...is just as sincere, or as little sincere, with him as Rubashov himself was towards Richard or Little Loewy. (full context)
The Grammatical Fiction: 2
Ideology and Contradiction Theme Icon
The Individual, or the “Grammatical Fiction, vs. the Collective Theme Icon
Logical Reasoning and Bureaucracy Theme Icon
...medieval Popes had ruined the ideal of a Christian empire. It was the story of Richard and the Pietà that had prompted him to begin to realize this, but he’d never... (full context)