The warder is coming along the even-rowed cells now and Rubashov is looking forward to a cup of hot tea, but they skip his cell and go straight to 402. He drums on the door, then he takes a shoe off and bangs on the door with it. The warder and orderlies stand hesitantly; as they move back to his door, Rubashov suddenly feels total apathy.
Although Rubashov knows he’s in a vulnerable position as a prisoner, he’s not afraid to make a claim for himself or demand certain privileges. Perhaps this is a result of knowing how the prison works. But this sense of self-confidence soon yields to listlessness.
The warder tells Rubashov that he hasn’t cleaned his cell, and Rubashov remains seated, saying he has no desire to argue or speak to him. The warder tells an orderly that the prisoner has no mop to clean the floor, and Rubashov adds that the prisoner has no eating bowl either—he admires the new tactics, saving him the trouble of a hunger strike. But the warder says Rubashov was left off at breakfast since he reported sick. Rubashov tells the men to leave him alone and stop the “comedy,” but when they close the door he goes back to the key-hole and shouts for a paper and pencil. He can’t tell if they’ve heard him; they continue on.
Rubashov continues to see the warder as beneath him. He also sees the warder as a member of the new guard (like the officer who arrested him), which is shown through his comment about the “new tactics.” The warder, though, doesn’t seem clever or conniving enough to be playing the game that Rubashov is implying—the warder has taken Rubashov’s complaint of sickness at face value.