Darkness at Noon

Darkness at Noon

Dreams Symbol Icon

As Darkness at Noon opens, the protagonist, Rubashov, is having one of his recurring dreams: that the police have come to arrest him, but he is too paralyzed to move. This time, though, he awakens from his dream to find that he is, indeed, about to be arrested. Rubashov experiences his own imprisonment and interrogation as a dizzying slippage between dreams and reality. Dreams have their own logic, their own laws, just as totalitarianism does. Indeed, while Rubashov thinks he’s lived long enough to understand how things work in his society, the new rules of the Party seem nonsensical to him, with no basis in reality. Throughout his time in prison, he’s denied so much sleep that this dreamlike quality comes to characterize all his waking hours. But dreams are also a way for Rubashov to deal with his incarceration by refusing to acquiesce to this new reality: engrossed by his own thoughts, caught up in the workings of his own mind, he uses day-dreams in particular as way to imagine alternate possibilities and to work through his past. Was everything he experienced in the past no more than a dream, he begins to ask himself, and is this imprisonment reality—or is it the other way around? The dream-world of the novel forces Rubashov to come to terms with what he’s done and the ramifications of everything he’s believed in, consequences that take place in an all-too-violent reality.

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Dreams Symbol Timeline in Darkness at Noon

The timeline below shows where the symbol Dreams appears in Darkness at Noon. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
The First Hearing: 1
Logical Reasoning and Bureaucracy Theme Icon
...off his pince-nez and feels at peace, failing for the first time to fear his dreams. Rubashov, the “ex-Commissar of the People,” falls asleep. (full context)
The First Hearing: 2
The Individual, or the “Grammatical Fiction, vs. the Collective Theme Icon
Logical Reasoning and Bureaucracy Theme Icon
...had been arrested an hour earlier: the knock on his door woke him from his dream. He’d been dreaming—as he often did—that he was being arrested by three men hammering on... (full context)
The Individual, or the “Grammatical Fiction, vs. the Collective Theme Icon
Logical Reasoning and Bureaucracy Theme Icon
The hammering had continued on the door but Rubashov couldn’t wake up: in the dream, as usual, he tried to put on his clothes but was frozen. Finally he’s awakened... (full context)
The First Hearing: 5
Logical Reasoning and Bureaucracy Theme Icon
...bleakly over the new prison. Rubashov tries to convince himself that this is all a dream: he tries so hard that he feels dizzy. As they reach cell No. 404, which... (full context)
The First Hearing: 9
Ideology and Contradiction Theme Icon
Logical Reasoning and Bureaucracy Theme Icon
...a coin into it and got out at the train station. During the trip he dreamed that Richard and the taxi-driver wanted to run him over: he’d cheated them of the... (full context)
The First Hearing: 10
Logical Reasoning and Bureaucracy Theme Icon
Rubashov realizes that he’s been pacing for four hours, but he knows the power of day-dreams during imprisonment well. But it was strange that he thought of the past, rather than... (full context)
The Second Hearing: 3
The Individual, or the “Grammatical Fiction, vs. the Collective Theme Icon
...weeks left to live, he’s ambushed by it and spends an entire day in a day-dream about Arlova, who, he knows, was shot. (full context)
The Second Hearing: 7
Logical Reasoning and Bureaucracy Theme Icon
Rubashov wakes up from a dream of his first arrest in enemy country to find a figure next to him and... (full context)
The Third Hearing: 3
Truth, Confession, and Performance Theme Icon
Rubashov’s memory flags: later he thinks he may have fallen asleep, dreaming of luminous landscapes and the poplars of his father’s estate. Then Gletkin’s voice booms over... (full context)
The Grammatical Fiction: 3
Ideology and Contradiction Theme Icon
Truth, Confession, and Performance Theme Icon
...and he thinks how theatrical it is, as he falls. Memories pass through him: he dreams they’re coming to arrest him, and tries to get into his dressing gown. A figure... (full context)