Darkness at Noon Part Four: Chapters 1-3 Summary & Analysis

Arthur Koestler

Darkness at Noon

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Darkness at Noon Part Four: Chapters 1-3 Summary & Analysis

Part Four: The Grammatical Fiction 

Chapters 1-3 Summary

Part Four opens with Vassilij, the porter in Rubashov’s building, listening to his daughter Vera Wassiljovna read aloud the newspaper article about Rubashov’s trial while he lies in bed with his face to the wall.  Over his bed hangs the portrait of No. 1 with an empty space next to it where Rubashov’s photograph used to hang. In a hidden hole in his bed is the empty space were his Bible used to be, before his daughter found it and threw it away, just as she threw away his photograph of Rubashov.  As Vassilij listens to the account of the trial, which proceeds in the way that Gletkin prescribed, he recalls Rubashov’s more triumphant times, quoting biblical passages that he remembers by heart in response to the narration of the trial.

Vera Wassiljovna asks him what he is mumbling when he recites these passages, but he does not answer, knowing that even with his own daughter he is not safe.  He signs the resolution she has brought home from work that calls for Rubashov’s death, but eventually is provoked to speak up, exclaiming that “cleverness and decency are at loggerheads, and whoever sides with one must do without the other” (254).  While his daughter reads the end of the article, Vassilij falls asleep, until she reads the last words of the accused, Kieffer and Rubashov.  Kieffer begs for his life, while Rubashov states that he is dying for “absolute nothingness” (256) and that in the end, he at least refused to “make it easy” (256) on himself and “die in silence” (256).  He declares that his “account with history is settled” (256) and that he asks for nothing more.  The two accused are sentenced to death, and the chapter ends with Vassilij’s words: “Thy will be done.  Amen” (256).

Chapter 2 returns to Rubashov on the day of his sentencing and execution.  He is back in his cell and he feels peaceful—“quiet, within and without” (257).  He recalls wanting to speak up at his trial, to try, one last time, to elicit pity for himself,…

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