Darkness at Noon

Darkness at Noon

Darkness at Noon The First Hearing: 10 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
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 the future (or else the past as it might have been). From experience, he knew that closeness to death tends to cause strange reactions. He looks into the courtyard, where one prisoner, emaciated with a hare-lip, glances up at his window: the news of his arrest must have spread.
Rubashov’s nighttime dreams and his dream-like reality have now become actual day-dreams, though with their own kind of reality, the reality of his past experiences. Rubashov also seems to recognize that what awaits him is death, though this realization doesn’t stir him from his apathy any more.
Themes
Logical Reasoning and Bureaucracy Theme Icon
Using the code, Rubashov asks No. 402 who that prisoner and the older man next to him are. 402 says they’re political, of Rubashov’s kind, not his own. “Hare-lip” is No. 400 and was tortured yesterday through steambath: while Rubashov was beaten up during his last imprisonment, he’s never experienced that. The worst part of torture, he knows, is not knowing what to expect: otherwise one can stand it like the extraction of a tooth.
Rubashov had sought to make use out of No. 402 early on: thinking about people instrumentally is a key aspect of Party ideology, and here No. 402 does, indeed, turn out to possess useful knowledge: the fact of another political prisoner’s presence, not to mention the fact that torture is being performed.
Themes
Ideology and Contradiction Theme Icon
Logical Reasoning and Bureaucracy Theme Icon
Rubashov feels almost refreshed at knowing what is in store for him, calling to mind everything he knows about the steambath torture and picturing it so that he’s not caught unaware. His memory of Richard and the taxi-driver comes to mind, and he smiles, thinking he’ll pay his fare. He lets his cigarette drop and is about to stamp it out, but instead stubs it on the back of his hand, holding it for 30 seconds: he’s pleased that his hand doesn’t twitch at all. An eye observing him through the spy-hole withdraws.
The memory of Richard and the taxi driver underlines Rubashov’s logical, rational mind, his insistence on keeping his cool in all kinds of situations. This ability to remain calm requires having a set of expectations about the future. Rubashov also takes pride in his grit and determination, believing that he’ll last through torture.
Themes
Logical Reasoning and Bureaucracy Theme Icon
Truth, Confession, and Performance Theme Icon