A door slams behind the protagonist, Rubashov, and he’s left in his prison cell. The cell has solid brick walls, a straw mattress, clean blankets, and a window looking down to the courtyard. Snow has been cleared around the courtyard track for prisoners’ daily exercise, and a soldier is patrolling it.
The first pages of the novel plunge the reader in medias res (that is, into the middle of the action), as we that learn Rubashov has been imprisoned, but not yet why or even wo he is.
Rubashov stretches out on his mat, deciding that it will probably be a few days before he’s interrogated. He takes 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.
Rubashov seems to understand how his imprisonment works: at the end of the chapter, we learn that he used to hold some kind of government position himself.