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

Arthur Koestler

Darkness at Noon

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

Part Three: The Third Hearing 

Chapters 1-3 Summary

Like Part Two, Part Three opens with an excerpt from Rubashov’s diary, in which he theorizes the “swing” of the pendulum of human history.  He reframes Bogrov’s death as his falling “out of the swing” (170) of history a hundred and fifty years after the pendulum began its most recent upswing “towards the blue sky of freedom” (170) with the storming of the Bastille.  The last fifty years have occurred on the other side of that swing up toward freedom, taking people back “to tyranny again” (170).  Rubashov theorizes that the “amount of individual freedom which a people may conquer and keep, depends on the degree of its political maturity” (170), which “does not follow a continuous rising curve, as does the growing up of an individual” (170), and that “every technical improvement creates a new complication” (171) in response to which it takes many years for “a people’s level of understanding” (171) to catch up.  Rubashov goes on to compare this process to the “lifting of a ship through a lock with several chambers” (171).  This theory suggests that capitalism will eventually collapse and accounts for the brutality of the political machinery in the “Fatherland of the Revolution” (173).  The excerpt ends with Rubashov’s theorizing of three options for “the opposition”: to oust the existing leadership by force, to “die in silence,” or to continue with “the denial and suppression of one’s own conviction when there is no prospect of materializing it” (174). He notes that because the Party’s morality is utilitarian, the third option is the only real option, and the personal must be “cut off root and branch” (174).

In Chapter 2 we see Rubashov writing with discipline, stopping only to be brought to the exercise yard, where he walks with “a thin peasant with bast-shoes” (174); Rip Van Winkle has apparently been taken away.  The peasant tries to talk with Rubashov about being a “reactionary,” but Rubashov is preoccupied with his writing and only murmurs in response, anxious to get back to his cell and finish his treatise, which he…

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