Darkness at Noon

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Rubashov’s porter and fellow soldier during the Civil War, Wassilij is an old man by the time Darkness at Noon opens. He is deeply loyal to Rubashov, and also is one of the few characters in the story to retain an older set of beliefs that the Party tried to stamp out. He still thinks of himself as a Christian and he takes solace in recalling verses from the Gospels, which to him form a resonant parallel with Rubashov’s own betrayal and sacrifice. By the end, the scheming of Wassilij’s daughter seems to suggest that his belief system and way of life will soon be stamped out.

Wassilij Quotes in Darkness at Noon

The Darkness at Noon quotes below are all either spoken by Wassilij or refer to Wassilij. 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 Grammatical Fiction: 1 Quotes

“…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.


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Wassilij Character Timeline in Darkness at Noon

The timeline below shows where the character Wassilij appears in Darkness at Noon. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
The First Hearing: 3
Ideology and Contradiction Theme Icon
The Individual, or the “Grammatical Fiction, vs. the Collective Theme Icon
The porter Wassilij, a thin old man with a scar on his neck from the Civil War, also... (full context)
The Individual, or the “Grammatical Fiction, vs. the Collective Theme Icon
Logical Reasoning and Bureaucracy Theme Icon
...continue pounding on the door, and a woman begins to scream, but one officer orders Wassilij to tell her to be quiet, which he does. The younger officer kicks open the... (full context)
The Grammatical Fiction: 1
Ideology and Contradiction Theme Icon
The porter Wassilij’s daughter reads to her father about Rubashov’s trial and his public confession. She reads that... (full context)
Ideology and Contradiction Theme Icon
Truth, Confession, and Performance Theme Icon
Recalling Rubashov’s former life, being carried through the streets triumphantly, Wassilij mumbles a Bible verse about Jesus being mocked and given a crown of thorns. He... (full context)
Ideology and Contradiction Theme Icon
The Individual, or the “Grammatical Fiction, vs. the Collective Theme Icon
Wassilij is reminded that his daughter wants the porter’s lodge for herself: she wants to marry... (full context)
The Individual, or the “Grammatical Fiction, vs. the Collective Theme Icon
Truth, Confession, and Performance Theme Icon
Wassilij asks if those who were in the Civil War must also sign, and Vera, looking... (full context)
The Individual, or the “Grammatical Fiction, vs. the Collective Theme Icon
As Vera concludes by reading the Prosecutor’s speech, Wassilij turns to the wall and dozes, waking up as she reads about Kieffer’s stammering attempt... (full context)