Darkness at Noon Part One: Chapters 9-11 Summary & Analysis

Arthur Koestler

Darkness at Noon

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Darkness at Noon Part One: Chapters 9-11 Summary & Analysis

Chapters 9-11 Summary

In Chapter 9, we learn through a series of flashbacks where exactly Rubashov saw the Pietà.  He was at a secret meeting at a “picture gallery of a town in southern Germany on a Monday afternoon” in 1933 (31), a week before his first arrest.  Rubashov is meeting with Richard, a nineteen-year-old Party member whose pregnant, seventeen-year-old wife has been arrested for their subversive activities.  Despite this sacrifice and Richard’s desperation, Rubashov has come to tell him that he has been ousted from the Party for not distributing the approved Party materials.  Throughout their conversation, Rubashov tries to see around Richard’s head to the Pietà on the wall behind him, but can only see “the Madonna’s thin hands, curved upwards, hollowed to the shape of a bowl” (34).  He leaves the gallery without seeing the picture in full.When he leaves Richard, he gets into a taxi whose driver is sympathetic to the Party.  The driver does not charge Rubashov for the ride and tells Rubashov that he is also willing to help Richard if he needs it.  Instead of accepting the free ride and shaking the man’s hand, Rubashov pays him “without a word” (49) and heads into the train station.

Rubashov’s memory of the conversation with Richard is interspersed with moments from his present situation: he continues pacing his prison cell and peers out of the judas-hole in his cell door, looking in vain for No. 407, whose outstretched hands had reminded him of the Pietà and Richard.  At one point, midway through his remembrance, he sees a bloodied prisoner being escorted back to his cell.  The chapter ends with Rubashov’s recollection of a dream he had on the train while dozing with a toothache after leaving Richard: he is running in front of the train instead of riding on it, with Richard and the taxi-driver in the engine behind him, “want to run him over because he had cheated them of the fare” (49).

In Chapter 10, we learn that Rubashov has been thinking about Richard and their meeting for four hours, pacing all the while—a phenomenon…

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