Darkness at Noon

Darkness at Noon


Arthur Koestler

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Nicholas Salmanovitch Rubashov

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… (read full character analysis)


Rubashov’s friend from university and former battalion commander, Ivanov is also Rubashov’s first interrogator after his imprisonment. Ivanov is another member of the old guard, one who remembers the Civil War: during the fighting… (read full character analysis)


In many ways Gletkin, who is first Ivanov’s subordinate and then replaces him as Rubashov’s interrogator, serves a foil to Ivanov. Where Ivanov is pragmatic and ironic, Gletkin is earnest and grave. For… (read full character analysis)


Rubashov’s former secretary and lover, Arlova appears in the novel in flashback form, as Rubashov recalls his affair with her. She is large, womanly, and passive: she doesn’t ask anything of Rubashov and she… (read full 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… (read full character analysis)
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Little Loewy

The local leader of the dockworkers’ section of the Party at a port in Belgium, Little Loewy is yet another former Party member that Rubashov sacrifices to the cause, though this time in a more… (read full character analysis)


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… (read full character analysis)

Vera Wassiljovna

Wassilij’s daughter, Vera works at the town factory, where she’s become engaged to a young mechanic. She is a fervent believer in the Party and believes everything that she is told by the authorities… (read full character analysis)

No. 402

402 is the prisoner occupying the cell next to Rubashov, whose name we never learn. 402 is, from what he says, a reactionary—that is, a supporter of the monarchy that the Revolution dismantled. He… (read full character analysis)

Hare-lip (Young Kieffer)

Another fellow prisoner, who seems to be especially interested in Rubashov from the start, though Rubashov isn’t certain why. Eventually, it becomes clear that Hare-lip is the son of Professor Kieffer, an old friend… (read full character analysis)

Professor Kieffer

A famous historian of the Revolution, and once No. 1’s closest friend, Kieffer was also quite close to Rubashov. He works on No. 1’s biography for ten years, but when certain changes are… (read full character analysis)

No. 1

The Party leader and a clear stand-in for Joseph Stalin, the leader of the Soviet Union. While No. 1 never appears in person in the novel, his portrait hangs over almost every room, implying his… (read full character analysis)

Michael Bogrov

A former army commander, Bogrov was Rubashov’s roommate when they were in exile after 1905 (the year of the failed Russian Revolution against the monarchy). Bogrov served as Rubashov’s intellectual mentor. Bogrov is imprisoned… (read full character analysis)

No. 406 (Rip Van Winkle)

A former sociology teacher in a country somewhere in southeastern Europe, this character was imprisoned there after participating in its own communist revolution and spent 20 years in prison. After being released, he came to… (read full character analysis)
Minor Characters
A fellow dockworker at the Belgian port, Paul meets Little Loewy in prison and recruits him to the Party section at the port.
The warder
In charge of looking after Rubashov and the other prisoners, the warder doesn’t have a personality of his own. His function is merely to carry out orders from above, and he does so willingly.
The doctor
Another bureaucrat with whom Rubashov interacts at the prison, the doctor is similarly unexceptional on a personal basis. He is significant only for the function he fulfills on behalf of the Party.
The stenographer
Responsible for recording Rubashov’s interrogations by Gletkin, the stenographer, who seems to believe fully in Rubashov’s guilt, serves as an example of the way regular people have been indoctrinated into believing whatever the Party says.