Darkness at Noon Part Two: Chapters 4-5 Summary & Analysis

Arthur Koestler

Darkness at Noon

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Darkness at Noon Part Two: Chapters 4-5 Summary & Analysis

Chapters 4-5 Summary

Chapter 4 introduces a new figure, Rubashov’s neighbor on the other side, No. 406, who repeatedly taps out “ARIE, YE WRETCHED OF THE EARTH” (122)or other gibberish on Rubashov’s wall.  He makes the same spelling mistake every time, tapping “ARIE” instead of “ARISE” (122).  This stands in contrast to Rubashov’s “sort of friendship” (123) with No. 402, who is a source of bland anecdotes and useful information. He tells Rubashov that No. 406 is “RIP VAN WINKLE” (125), because he spent twenty years in solitary confinement in a “south-eastern country” (125) in Europe after being arrested for participating in a revolution there.  Upon his release, he traveled to “the land of his dreams” (125), where the revolution originated, and quickly finds himself in the same situation as the majority of the older generation of the Revolution—like Rubashov himself.Rubashov’s “grammatical fiction” emerges in response to the story of Rip Van Winkle, and he feels a “vague uneasiness” which he translates as guilt and responsibility for Rip Van Winkle’s current state.

Rubashov is latertaken to be shaved.  The barber slips him a small piece of paper upon which is written, “Die in silence” (127).  This provokes another round of reflection for Rubashov, this time on the subject of whether “the revolutionary” should at any point “keep silent” (128).  Rubashov also questions whether his decision to sacrifice Arlova in order to keep himself “in reserve for later on” (128) was “more honourable” (128) than dying “in silence” (128).  The repetition to himself the phrase “die in silence” makes it seem absurd to Rubashov, and the chapter ends with him questioning whether “he had ever seriously intended to reject offer and to walk off the stage without a word” (129).

In Chapter 5, Rubashov is taken to the exercise yard and walks his twenty-minute course around the yard’s perimeter next to Rip Van Winkle.  Rip Van Winkle is not the deranged person Rubashov expects; he is friendly and courteous, though peculiar.  Rubashov considers what it would be like to be locked away for twenty years and finds that he cannot; Rip’s consciousness…

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