Arthur Koestler's "Darkness At Noon" Paper

2606 words - 11 pages

Visiting the Soviet Union in 1932 was a disillusioning experience for Arthur Koestler. He was disenchanted by what the revolution had led to, but told what he called the “necessary lie”, continuing to support Stalin’s Soviet Union until it signed a peace treaty with the Nazi’s in 1939. With many of his old comrade’s put on show trials and executed under the Stalinist Regime, the now ex-communist Koestler wanted to explain where and why the revolution went wrong. Furthermore, he searched for an explanation as to why so many of these old-line Bolsheviks, who had been essential to the party during the revolution, were publicly confessing to crimes against the party that would lead to their ...view middle of the document...

Answering this question requires analysis of another theme in the novel, which is the portrayal of Rubashov as a Christ figure. By exploring these themes, this paper will conclude with answers to the questions Koestler was addressing in writing Darkness at Noon.
Rubashov enters the prison as an old-line Bolshevik holding true to the party’s logic and ideology. However, from the beginning there are hints exposing Rubashov’s “mystic” side, including his toothache and the sounds of rushing water. Rubashov’s toothache symbolizes his conscience, which has been suppressed and pushed deeper into his subconscious through his service to the revolution and the party. As Rubashov progresses through the three trials, he begins to question the ethics of the party’s ideology through what we may call “flashbacks” to ethically questionable tasks he has carried out in the past. By exploring each of these “flashbacks” a trend is observed in which Rubashov’s individualistic side gains dominance. After reading the novel, a logical starting point for the development of Rubashov’s emotional side would be his conversations with the inmate in cell 402. Clues pointing to this conclusion include the fact that the first word exchanged was “W-H-O”. Upon hearing this request, Rubashov thought to himself “According to the revolutionary etiquette, he should have started with a political tag; then given the news; then talked of food and tobacco; much later only, days later, if at all, did one introduce oneself” . This first interaction shows that their relationship throughout the novel will serve the purpose of exposing the flaws of Rubashov’s logical side, while helping to develop a sense of individuality. Every interaction between inmate 402 and Rubashov deals solely with human interaction and the extension of personal interests. Although they share two completely different ideologies, their friendship exists as a sole function of their individuality.
After Rubashov’s first conversation with inmate 402, the image of La Pietá surfaces in his mind. This image occurs many times in the novel, and is always symbolism of Rubashov’s developing emotional side. In this particular instance, Rubashov is reminded of a time he was carrying a task on for the party. This required him to expel from the party a man, Richard, who had altered propaganda with his own phrases and ideas that were inconsistent with the central committee’s message. Rubashov met Richard in a museum, where they held a secret meeting in which only Rubashov knew the bitter outcome. During the meeting, Rubashov informed Richard that he was no longer a member of the party. Upon hearing this, Richard is clearly upset, and expresses his helplessness to which Rubashov has no reaction. Rubashov condemns Richard to a very bleak fate, and the Machiavellian logic at the core of the party’s ideology allowed him to carry on this task with no emotional obstacles. Even though Rubashov did not verbally express his conscience...

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