Darkness at Noon

Darkness at Noon


Arthur Koestler

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Darkness at Noon: The First Hearing: 11 Summary & Analysis

Rubashov feels a strong desire for a cigarette, and he hammers on the door until the warder comes, who says he has to wait until the money taken from him on arrival is changed into prison vouchers. Rubashov wants to write a letter of complaint, but he must have vouchers to get a pen and paper, the warder says. Rubashov calls the warder a heap of dung, and the warder says he’ll report him and withdraws. Rubashov thinks he won’t last without cigarettes.
Rubashov still treats the warder dismissively, even though he recognizes that the warder does have power over him. Although Rubashov is confident that he will survive torture and interrogation without breaking, he knows that there are a few necessities he can’t survive without.
Logical Reasoning and Bureaucracy Theme Icon
Rubashov asks No. 402 for tobacco, but he says there’s none for him. Rubashov thinks 402 is probably self-satisfied, while imagining how many of his people Rubashov has had shot. To him, Rubashov thinks, he owes no fare: there’s no common currency or language between them. But then 402 taps that he’s sending him tobacco: he hammers until the warder comes to his door, and Rubashov hears “against regulations,” then that the warder will report him for his language. Pacing back and forth, Rubashov says that what he did was “necessary and right,” but wonders if he must pay for those deeds all the same. 402 taps to him that Hare-lip sends him greetings.
Once again Rubashov, who’s never seen No. 402 in the flesh, enjoys imagining what his fellow prisoner is thinking and how the prisoner feels about Rubashov. The idea of “paying one’s fare,” stemming from the taxi driver from Rubashov’s memory, returns here as a metaphor for solidarity between two people. He’s initially able to dismiss such an idea, but when 402 does try to give him tobacco, Rubashov suddenly has to wonder if there’s more to this idea of individual kindness.
The Individual, or the “Grammatical Fiction, vs. the Collective Theme Icon