Before the 1917 Russian Revolution, Orthodox Christians were the majority religion in Russia. Subsequently, the Bolsheviks in power began a process of removing the power and authority of the Church, delegitimizing it through propaganda campaigns, and requiring all members of the Party to be atheists. Darkness at Noon testifies to the imperfect, partial nature of this campaign, which was unable to stamp out many ordinary people’s attachment to their faith. Indeed, the Christian symbolism that is strewn throughout the novel underlines the irony of official atheism’s comingling with images from other belief systems. In a society that has ostensibly driven God away, characters (like the porter Wassilij) do not just espouse Christian beliefs but they also contribute to a powerfully symbolic Christian atmosphere in general. Wassilij, for one, views Rubashov as a sacrificial lamb like Jesus Christ: near the end of the novel, he mutters Bible verses to himself that recount Jesus’s final days on earth, his betrayal by his disciple Peter, and his crowning with thorns. Rubashov too comes to equate what he calls the “grammatical fiction” with a religious sensibility, as well as linking his own confinement to that of Christian monks. In arguing with Ivanov, he also talks of Dostoevsky, a famous and famously religious Russian writer, in order to propose an alternative morality to the one espoused by the Party. In general, Christian symbolism throughout the novel implies that, despite the all-powerful gaze of No. 1 and the omnipotence of the Communist Party in Russia, other ways of thinking and other belief systems still manage to evade the Party’s grasp, even if only in the most subtle of ways. At the same time, there is a way in which No. 1 himself becomes imbued with the attributes of a god or god-like figure, suggesting the persistence of the human need to divinize and worship.
Christian Symbolism Quotes in Darkness at Noon
The Party’s warm, breathing body appeared to him to be covered with sores—festering sores, bleeding stigmata. When and where in history had there even been such defective saints? Whenever had a good cause been worse represented? If the Party embodied the will of history, then history itself was defective.
“…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.