Darkness at Noon Part One: Chapters 12-14 Summary & Analysis

Arthur Koestler

Darkness at Noon

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Darkness at Noon Part One: Chapters 12-14 Summary & Analysis

Chapters 12-14 Summary

At the start of Chapter 12, Rubashov is almost delirious from hunger and nicotine withdrawal.  His tooth aches and he shivers as he paces his cell with his blanket wrapped around him.  He suspects that his right eye-tooth has a broken root and resolves to tell the prison doctor about it when he sees him.  Overcome by memories, he continues to mull over the problem presented by the Party, whose “principles were right,” but whose “results were wrong” (59).  He recalls a photograph of “the delegates to the first congress of the Party,” who sit together at a long table, “bearded and earnest” (59).  No. 1 is included in this photograph, as is Rubashov himself.  Rubashov describes them as “militant philosophers” who were “preparing the greatest revolution in human history” (60).

Rubashov’s agitated mind turns to thoughts of Little Loewy, whom he met in Belgium two years after his first arrest.He recalls how he was imprisoned and tortured for two years but was ultimately released and returned to his home country because they were unable to prove his guilt.  He recalls meeting with No. 1, above whose head hung a portrait of the Party’s first leader—“the Old Man” (61), now deceased—with an empty space next to it where the photograph of “the numbered heads” of the Party delegates used to be.  Rubashov notes that many of those “numbered heads” are gone and that those who remain are unrecognizable as their former selves; he asks to be assigned abroad again.  The next day he leaves for Belgium and his meeting with Little Loewy.

Like Richard, the “slightly hunchbacked” (60) Little Loewy does not know Rubashov’s true motives for meeting with him, though unlike his comrades in the dock-workers’ section of the Party, he does know Rubashov’s true identity.  Little Loewy is extremely popular, and Rubashov recalls that he “liked him at once” (62).  They spend the night together in a café, where Little Loewy tells Rubashov his life story; Rubashov does not want to hear it but listens anyway.  Little Loewy’s story is one of his betrayal by the Party…

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