It’s now half past one in the morning. The poet Riukhin, who helped carry Ivan into the police truck, stands in the examining room of the psychiatric clinic, explaining to the doctor what happened at the restaurant. When the doctor addresses Ivan, the latter replies, “greetings, saboteur!”
Absurdly, Ivan feels that he is trying to defend society from Woland and is providing a citizenly service by trying to inform everyone what has happened. That’s why he calls the doctor “saboteur.”
Ivan protests furiously that he isn’t insane; despite the fantastical nature of what Ivan is saying, Riukhin doesn’t see madness in his eyes. The doctor informs Ivan that this is not a “madhouse, but a clinic,” and that he will not be kept there unnecessarily. Ivan, still indignant, takes a moment to denounce Riukhin’s poetry and personality.
Riukhin doesn’t see madness in Ivan’s eyes because the young poet is telling the truth. As is often the case in the novel, when something that seems impossible to believe is encountered it is then characterized as irrational.
The doctor questions Ivan on his story. Barely stopping to catch his breath, Ivan explains all about the strange professor—how he knew about Berlioz’s death before it happened, and that he had spoken personally with Pontius Pilate. Ivan, sensing that the others think his story is crazy, insists on making a phone call. He calls the police, telling them to pick him up from the “madhouse” and to bring “five motor cycles with machine guns.” He turns to leave and bids the doctor goodbye.
These moments represent Ivan at his most distressed and contribute to the link between the Yershalaim and Moscow narratives. Just as at Griboedov’s, events outside the realm of human understanding are reasoned away. This creates an overall sense that the inhabitants of Moscow are unmovably wedded to the status quo, unable to look beyond the confines of their understanding. Ivan’s call to the police is a funny moment, given that no amount of reinforcement is likely to stop Woland and his gang.
When the others block his exit through the door, Ivan tries to jump through the window, which absorbs his impact without breaking. The orderlies hold Ivan down as the doctor administers an injection of a sedative. Ivan grows sleepy and is wheeled out of the room.
Ivan’s attempt to escape is an act of both courage and cowardice. He is so afraid of what’s happened, yet also wants to do something about it. Ivan’s sedateness brings him temporary peace, perhaps suggesting the soporific state of the wider society.
Riukhin exits into the dawn. He reflects on his career to date and concludes that everything he’s ever written is “bad”: “I don’t believe in anything I write!” Passing a statue of the poet Alexander Pushkin, Riukhin laments the life that he feels he’s wasted. He returns to the Griboedev restaurant and drowns his sorrows with vodka.
Riukhin is not the only writer to realize the utter lack of value of his work. He doesn’t believe in it because, having been shaken from his usual mental state by Ivan’s “breakdown,” he recognizes that what he writes has little motivation beyond maintaining his access to Massolit resources. The revered Russian poet, Pushkin, stands as his counterexample.