When Arthur Koestler began writing Darkness at Noon in 1938, much of Europe squirmed under the heel of totalitarian forces. The threat of fascism was very apparent to many intellectuals, but that of communism not nearly so much. Many naïve and prominent figures looked to the Soviet Union for leadership in the long march to a distant utopia. Koestler, a Communist Party activist for most of the 1930’s, knew the reality at first hand. He had seen countless numbers of friends censored and executed by the Communist Party. He had traveled extensively in the Soviet Union and seen its economic backwardness and widespread famine. Against this historical background, Darkness at Noon may be viewed first of all as a factually accurate account that uses the techniques of fiction. Koestler writes in a spare, straightforward fashion without stylistic flights. The understatement of the horrors and madness of the prison conveys its sordidness without adornment. The characters are not the anguished superhumans of Greek tragedy but small gray figures in a bureaucratic nightmare. They ride along in a train of destiny over which they not only have no control but also have no understanding.
Koestler focuses on the show trials as the particular manifestation of the Communist suppression. These trials took place throughout the 1930’s and represented the bloodthirsty, paranoid effort of Joseph Stalin (who is represented as Number 1 in the novel) to consolidate his position as dictator by liquidating all opposition, including his own former comrades in the Russian Revolution. The protagonist of the novel, Rubashov, is fictional, but he represents many Communist Party leaders who did exist and met their deaths through trumped-up charges brought against them by the Soviet police. Much of the narrative takes place inside the mind of Rubashov and presents a brilliant psychology study. Rubashov is a man trying to reconcile his present dilemma with the beliefs and actions of his earlier years. More specifically, Koestler addresses an issue that puzzled political analysts of his day: Why did those accused in the show trials plead guilty in open court to crimes that they did not commit? In answering this question, Koestler leads the reader through many dark labyrinths of Rubashov’s logical mind. The book on...
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Essay on Critical Analysis of Darkness at Noon by Harold Krents
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Critical Analysis of Darkness at Noon by Harold Krents In "Darkness at Noon", Harold Krents vividly describes some of the everyday prejudices disabled citizens must face. Presented in an often humorous fashion, the author opens the reader’s eyes to the cruel ironies of society’s preconceived and inaccurate judgments, and their long reaching effects on his life.
Krents begins his essay by pointing out to the reader that he cannot see himself, and thus, often has to depend upon the viewpoints of others. He states: "To date it has not been narcissistic." The average reader may not be aware that the word "narcissistic" means, "Excessively in love with oneself." It is helpful for the reader to keep this first observation in…show more content…
After explaining these misconceptions of society, Krents begins to talk about their effect, "…one of the most disillusioning experiences of my life." Despite a cum laude degree from Harvard College, good ranking in his Harvard Law School class and perfectly acceptable qualifications, Krents was unable to find work. Krents states that the numerous rejection letters were "not based on my lack of ability but rather on my disability."
From this point on, the essay takes a rather downward spiral. Krents discontinues discussing his challenges in the work world without informing the reader of any outcome. The reader does not understand whether Krents ever received work or is now begging change off bystanders as he makes his living under a city bridge. Instead of clearing up these issues, Krents continues by recounting a seemingly isolated event in his own childhood. He begins the story by saying, "I therefore look forward to the day, with the expectation that it is certain to come, when employers will view their handicapped workers as a little child did me years ago…" He then describes a basketball game in his backyard and the visit of a five year old neighbor and that child’s friend. The neighbor informs the friend, "He’s blind." After numerous missed shots by both Krents and his father, the friend responds "Which one?" Krents concludes that this is what he wishes to see in the work world. He says, "I would hope that in the near future when a plant