Darkness at Noon

Darkness at Noon

No. 406 (Rip Van Winkle) Character Analysis

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 Russia (or the unnamed country where the novel is set) but soon enough was arrested—No. 402 conjectures that things simply might have changed too much in so much time. No. 406 occupies the cell next to Rubashov and often seems distracted, even mad: he’s also referred to as “Rip Van Winkle,” referring to a Washington Irving short story about a man who falls asleep and wakes up decades later to discover an entirely new world.
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No. 406 (Rip Van Winkle) Character Timeline in Darkness at Noon

The timeline below shows where the character No. 406 (Rip Van Winkle) appears in Darkness at Noon. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
The Second Hearing: 4
Ideology and Contradiction Theme Icon
Logical Reasoning and Bureaucracy Theme Icon
No. 406 , Rubashov’s new neighbor, keeps tapping a note with the same spelling mistake, “ARIE, YE... (full context)
Change and the Laws of History Theme Icon
No. 402 taps that No. 406 had been a sociology teacher in a southeastern European state, and had participated in that... (full context)
The Second Hearing: 5
The Individual, or the “Grammatical Fiction, vs. the Collective Theme Icon
...tells him the regulations, including the prohibition on conversation. Then he opens the door of No. 406: Rip Van Winkle is wearing black boots and frayed (but neat) trousers, his face covered with gray stubble.... (full context)
Ideology and Contradiction Theme Icon
...rule about no talking. He brings his notebook to the courtyard, and gives it to No. 406 , who eagerly draws a sketch of their country, with remarkable accuracy. He looks for... (full context)
Ideology and Contradiction Theme Icon
As they move back inside, the expression of fear returns to No. 406 , and he whispers to Rubashov that he was put in the wrong train, and... (full context)
The Third Hearing: 2
Ideology and Contradiction Theme Icon
Change and the Laws of History Theme Icon
...the last few days. At eleven in the morning he’s brought out to exercise, though Rip Van Winkle isn’t in the yard. Instead there’s a peasant beside him, who says he comes from... (full context)