Darkness at Noon Part Three: Chapters 4-6 Summary & Analysis

Arthur Koestler

Darkness at Noon

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Darkness at Noon Part Three: Chapters 4-6 Summary & Analysis

Chapters 4-6 Summary

Chapter 4 opens with a description of Rubashov’s state of mind in the days following his first examination by Gletkin.  He has lost all sense of time;he has no idea whether it is day or night or how long he has been allowed to sleep before his next round with Gletkin, who is always the one to interrogate him.  Though he believed his examinations were finished after signing his confession during his first hearing with Gletkin, he realizes upon subsequent examinations, that he will be required to sign confessions for each of the seven charges against him.  Instead of signing them all at once and ending the torture of sleep deprivation, he finds that a “queer, complicated sense of duty prevented him giving in to this temptation” (218).

The next point of contention between Rubashov and Gletkin is whether Rubashov “negotiated with representatives of a foreign Power on behalf of the opposition, in order to overthrow the present regime with their help” (219).  Gletkin cites as evidence a conversation Rubashov had with a Herr von Z., during which the men exchanged anecdotes about their respective fathers’ raising of guinea-pigs, and they talk generally about what would happen should No. 1 be deposed through revolution.  Rubashov characterizes the conversation as “idle chatter” (221).  Again, though, Rubashov concedes Gletkin’s point that, taken to its logical conclusion, such “idle chatter” would be dangerous and signs the confession.  Once he signs the confession he asks about Ivanov, who, he learns, is under arrest for his negligent handling of Rubashov’s case.  Later, after he has signed yet another confession, Rubashov asks Gletkin why he is not being tortured, and Gletkin tells him it is because he is one of “that tenacious kind” (225) who might confess under torture but then “recant at the public trial” (225).  Rubashov is proud of this description of himself.

Though Gletkin and Rubashov argue over each of the charges brought against Rubashov, they come to “an unspoken agreement” (227) that “if Gletkin could prove that the root of the charge was right—even when this root was only of a…

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