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

Arthur Koestler

Darkness at Noon

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

Part Two: The Second Hearing 

Chapters 1-3 Summary

Part Two opens with an extract from Rubashov’s diary in which he meditates on historical “truth” and the inability to know who is “right” and who is “wrong” in the present.  He makes reference to Machiavelli’s The Prince, noting that a copy of the book lies next to No. 1’s bedside and that the Movement has replaced “the nineteenth century’s liberal ethics of ‘fair play’ by the revolutionary ethics of the twentieth century” (98), which are based on “universal reason” or “consequent logic” (98).  As Rubashov explains, in the context of this revolutionary ethics, “subjective good faith is of no interest.  He who is in the wrong must pay; he who is in the right will be absolved” (99), regardless oftheir virtue; wrong ideas must be punished with death lest they be carried over to the succeeding generation.  At the end of the excerpt, however, Rubashov reveals that even strict adherence to an ethic of consequent logic is itself an act of “faith” (101), and that he no longer has faith in his own logical deductions.

Chapter 2 narrates a conversation between Ivanov and his colleague Gletkinabout Rubashov, over whom they disagree.  In particular, Gletkin disagrees with Ivanov’s methods—of allowing Rubashov the time and materials with which to come to a logical conclusion so he will capitulate.  Gletkin believes that “physical pressure” is a more effective route.  The two men also disagree on the ideals of the Revolution, with Gletkin calling Ivanov a “cynic” for believing that those ideals are “all humbug” (103).  Gletkin believes that revolutionary labor—and the brutal regime it gave rise to— willultimately be successful.  Gletkin also tells a story about his early years as an examiner, during which he learned the importance of sleep deprivation in interrogations.  He also recalls that the prisoners were never beaten, but they were subject to “accidental” witnessing of executions.  These are his primary methods of “physical pressure,” and he is able to follow through with them by keeping “in mind the logical necessity of it all” (107) in furthering the goals of the Party. …

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