Darkness at Noon

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Darkness at Noon The First Hearing: 13 Summary & Analysis

Rubashov shivers, unable to sleep, thinking of Little Loewy asking at the meeting who else would wish to speak. There were many others who did, but, Rubashov thinks: just as the meeting rolled on, so did the movement, unconcerned about these desires or about people’s ability to follow the Party’s winding course. The only crime recognized by the Party was to swerve from the course; the only punishment, death.
Back in the present, confined in his prison cell, Rubashov thinks through the implications of the reactions to his message in Belgium. He acknowledges the distance between Party policy and individuals’ desires and beliefs, a distance that he’s just papered over before.
The Individual, or the “Grammatical Fiction, vs. the Collective Theme Icon
The next morning the bugle awakens Rubashov and he’s led out of his cell to the doctor. They pass the barber’s shop, where peasants are having their heads shorn, and come to the infirmary. The warder says the prisoner has a toothache. Rubashov looks at the doctor through the pince-nez as the doctor barks at him to open his mouth: he says he’s a political prisoner and is entitled to correct treatment. Upon learning Rubashov’s name, he looks at him closely. The doctor probes around his mouth, then says the root of one tooth is broken off: he can extract it, but there are no anaesthetics. Rubashov breaths deeply and declines, thinking of Hare-lip and the “steambath.” Back in his cell, he immediately falls asleep. The toothache eases; three days later he’s brought to be examined for the first time.
Although Rubashov recognizes that other people are being tortured in this prison, his own experience has been, up to now, eerily calm. Once again Rubashov makes a claim for proper treatment based on the significance of his status as political prisoner—again, it’s ironic that in a society that purports to embrace absolute equality, certain names and faces, Rubashov among them, are expected to incur special treatment. Now, Rubashov prefers to put off his tolerance for pain until a point when he may actually need it, if he ends up being tortured.
The Individual, or the “Grammatical Fiction, vs. the Collective Theme Icon
Truth, Confession, and Performance Theme Icon