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The Conflict Between Individual And State And

The Grammatical Fiction In Darkness At Noon Essay, Research Paper The Conflict Between the Individual and the State and the Grammatical Fiction in Darkness At Noon

The Grammatical Fiction In Darkness At Noon Essay, Research Paper

The Conflict Between the Individual and

the State and the Grammatical Fiction in Darkness At Noon

“The Party denied the free will of an individual-and

at the same time exacted his willing self-sacrifice.” The obvious contradiction

of the above definition of the Communist party is depicts the conflict

between the individual and the State in Arthur Koestler?s novel Darkness

at Noon. Koestler?s protagonist Nicolas Salamanovich Rubashov, devout communist

and former leader of the Communist party, falls victim to his own system

during the time of the Moscow trials. Accused and imprisoned for crimes

he did not commit, Rubashov is forced to choose between the ideology he

has faithfully followed for the past forty years of his life, or a new

found sense of self, which he calls the “grammatical fiction”.

During the beginning of Rubashov?s solitary

incarceration, he begins to doubt the infallibility of the Communist regime,

and for a time, views himself independent from the Party. Rubashov?s pulling

away from Communism is evident in his conversation with the examining magistrate,

Ivanov, during his first hearing. Rubashov addresses Ivanov?s collective

viewpoint with the developing views of his own:

“Your argument is somewhat anachronistic,”

said Rubashov. “As you quite rightly remarked, we were accustomed always

to use the plural ?we? and to avoid as far as possible the first person

singular. I have rather lost the habit of this form of speech; you stick

to it. But who is this ?we? in whose name you speak to-day? It needs re-defining.

That is the point.”

Apart from the Party, Rubashov no longer

functions as part of the Communist unit, but rather as an individual. Within

communist doctrine the individual is only a piece of a larger system, and

for the true communist the pronoun ?I? is not even part of his or her vocabulary.

Rather, the personal ?I? is replaced by ?we?, which represents the Party.

The significance of Rubashov?s statement is that even his speech patterns,

a physical manifestation of one?s subconscious, display his self-detachment

from the Communist Party in that he has lost his ability to associate with

the communist We.

Over and over Rubashov is tormented by

the idea “I shall pay”, an unrest due to his uncertainty about the foundation

of Communism he has placed himself on. Shortly after his first hearing

he writes in his diary “The fact is: I no longer believe in my infallibility.

That is why I am lost.” It is evident that he is beginning to take personal

responsibility for the actions he has committed on behalf of the Party,

the people that he has betrayed and the seemingly absurd doctrines he has

readily submitted to. Both Rubashov?s mental disquiet, and his observable,

critical actions are owed to his new found recognition of himself as an

individual, a loophole in Communist doctrine.

All his life Rubashov had “burnt the remains

of the old illogical morality from his consciousness”, and was unaware

that ideas outside of those expressed by the Party had any logical basis.

He once thought that any other view was irrational and false. In his cell

waiting to be taken to his execution, Rubashov reflects on his former devotion

to the Party:

For in a struggle one must have both legs

firmly planted on the earth. The Party had taught one how to do it. The

infinite was a politically suspect quantity, and the “I” a suspect quality.

The Party did not recognize its existence. The definition of an individual

was a multitude of one million divided by one million.

As a Communist he had sacrificed his individuality

for the benefit of the Party, and forty years later he had lost the capability

to even think outside the lines of the Party?s dogmas. He had denied the

individual within himself, which is why he is confused at the emergence

of his “silent partner”, the free-thinking individual within himself. His

conscious self had been founded in the ?we?, until he was imprisoned. Facing

death, Rubashov realizes the destructiveness of a political system that

doesn?t account for the individual.

No longer confused by his apathy for the

Party, Rubashov?s final hours are marked by a fatalistic mindset and an

internal sense of peace. In Rubashov?s conversation with Ivanov during

Rubashov?s second hearing, Ivanov states: “The greatest temptaion for the

like of us is: to renounce violence, to repent, to make peace with oneself”.

Ivanov represents rubashov?s former viewpoint. However, no longer subject

to the repressive Communist order, Rubashov does find reconciliation with

himself:

He was a man who had lost his shadow, released

from every bond. He followed every thought to its last conclusion and acted

in accordance with it to the very end. The hours which remained to him

belonged to the silent partner, whose realm started just where logical

thought ended. He had christened it the ?grammatical fiction? with that

shamefacedness about the first person singular which the Party had inculcated

in its disciples.

At this point Rubashov rests. The inner

turmoil he had from being torn between two avenues of thought had ceased.

He has realized the futility of the Party?s actions, and in his own way

repented of those actions by dissociating himself from the Party. Although

the Party had essentially banished Rubashov first, Rubashov?s conflict

had resulted from his mental loyalty for the System to which he fell victim.

Having lost his faith in Communism, Rubashov devotes the remaining part

of his life to the “grammatical fiction”, and finds contentment. Rubashov

is no longer afraid of death because death is imminent, and not even the

most logical thought or powerful dictator can alter the natural law of

death. After enduring emotional and mental torment, he realizes he has

“earned the right to sleep” and die peacefully.

Rubashov?s experiences in prison altered

his view of the communist system and upturned the faith he had for it.

The idea that a doctrine in which the individual is not accounted for becomes

an absurdity. The appearance of the grammatical fiction in Rubashov?s case,

is representative of the larger conflict between the individual and the

State. Rubashov?s experience is a microcosm of the people who suppressed

their own individual thought and reason for that of the Party and Stalinist

dictatorship. The idea expressed by Koestler in Darkness at Noon is that

the Communist system?s ultimate failure lies within its idea that the individual

is a “sacrificial lamb” for the Party. Instead, it is the individual that

is the essential factor in making a society. An individual can survive

without a government, but a government can not survive without the support

of the individual, and it is for this reason that no form of Communism

has ever reached the utopian peak in which Marx and Engles expressed in

The Manifesto of the Communist Party.

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