Darkness at Noon

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Darkness at Noon The Second Hearing: 2 Summary & Analysis

The day after the first hearing, Ivanov and his colleague Gletkin are resting in the canteen. Ivanov is tired 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 peace so that he can think it out. Ivanov wants Rubashov to have pencil, paper, and cigarettes, although Gletkin thinks that’s wrong. While Ivanov thinks Rubashov will capitulate out of logic rather than cowardice, Gletkin argues that, in the end, everyone cedes to physical pressure.
The different postures of Ivanov and Gletkin reflect their different backgrounds, levels of comfort, and institutional statuses. Gletkin is a relative newcomer, part of the new guard, who has his own views about capitulation. Unlike Ivanov, he has little faith or interest in the intellectual, logical problems that Rubashov is working through.
Logical Reasoning and Bureaucracy Theme Icon
During the Civil War, Gletkin had been taken prisoner, and they’d tied a lighted candlewick to his skull to make him talk. A few hours later his people had found him unconscious. He’d kept silent, but he tells Ivanov that he only did because he’d fainted: he would have spoken up if he’d been conscious a minute longer, and it’s only a question of constitution. Especially now, when the Party doesn’t have the luxury to get what it wants by appealing to the criminal’s reason, they must crush him.
Gletkin too had been a political prisoner, although he hadn’t participated in the initial Party leadership like Ivanov and Rubashov had. Whereas some might take his toughness as evidence of his loyalty to the Party, Gletkin has a more matter-of-fact view of the success of physical torture, which he’s all too willing to use himself.
Truth, Confession, and Performance Theme Icon
Gletkin recalls a peasant that he cross-examined a few years ago. The Revolution, Gletkins says, is being lost because of these stubborn, stupid peasants. At that time, Gletkin began to reason with the peasant rather than beat him, and the peasant lost all respect for him. Finally, the peasant was shaken awake at 2 a.m. one night and, sleepy and scared: he gave himself up. Gletkin and his colleagues began using physical pressure rather than reasoning (while still following orders not to physically torture people) and they all had positive results. It’s important to keep in 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 given Rubashov a fortnight: Gletkin is his subordinate, and so he salutes Ivanov.
Technically, according to Party philosophy, the masses are meant to be given the greatest respect, as they have a privileged role in this revolutionary society. Gletkin’s story, however, shows how much scorn the leaders have towards peasants who don’t immediately bow to the new ideology. This shows the paradox of disrespecting peasants in order to create a future society that will actually be ruled by the masses. Gletkin also stresses that logic is important to him, too: but he means that it’s vital to actually believe unquestioningly in the Party’s logic.
Ideology and Contradiction Theme Icon
Logical Reasoning and Bureaucracy Theme Icon