Essay on Guilty Betrayal in Arthur Koestler's Darkness at Noon

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Guilty Betrayal in Arthur Koestler's Darkness at Noon

Arthur Koestler's Darkness at Noon depicts the fallacious logic of a totalitarian regime through the experiences of Nicolas Salmanovitch Rubashov. Rubashov had fought in the revolution and was once part of the Central Committee of the Party, but he is arrested on charges of instigating attempted assassinations of No. 1, and for taking part in oppositional, counter-revolutionary activities, and is sent to a Soviet prison. Rubashov, in his idle pacing throughout his cell, recollects his past with the Party. He begins to feel impulses of guilt, most especially in those moments he was required to expel devoted revolutionaries from the Party, sending them to their death. These
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It is not until after he has spent some time in his cell pondering the grammatical fiction that he associates his toothache with these guilty dealings of his past. After reminiscing of his meeting with Richard, Rubashov dreams that "Richard and the old taxi-driver [are] pursuing him, because they felt themselves cheated and betrayed by him. I will pay my fare, he [thinks] with an awkward smile" (42). Rubashov does indeed betray Richard's trust and faith in the Party by expelling him. For the taxi driver, Rubashov is guilty of letting him believe in the virtue of the Party, along with a supposed friendship with Richard. Rubashov has silently affirmed the necessity of his expulsion of Richard. He does not consciously associate this dream with guilt, and thus he inadvertently feels as though he must pay. Immediately following this thought of payment, Rubashov burns out the cigarette on his hand as a form of self-absolution. The toothache and thought of payment constantly pervade his subconscious mind until Rubashov eventually identifies them as the concept of guilt.

The gradual realization of his guilt in his history with the Party coincides with the gradual realization of his individuality, which he articulates as the grammatical fiction. The grammatical fiction is so christened due to its emphasis on the use of the first person singular, a concept shunned by the Party. After some time spent in his prison
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