We

by

Yevgeny Zamyatin

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We: Record 1 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
The narrator opens Record One by including a copy of an announcement posted in the State Gazette. The announcement reveals that in 120 days, construction of the Integral will be complete, and it will venture into outer space to help the One State gain control of the entire universe.
The One State’s fear of the unknown drives it to force its ideologies on the whole rest of the world—the One State cannot accept that unknown civilizations espouse conflicting, unknown ways of life, because this would allow for the possibility of confrontations and rebellions from outside forces. 
Themes
Repression of Desire  Theme Icon
The announcement addresses its readers directly, informing them that it will be their task to encounter alien civilizations that live “in the savage state of freedom, and subjugate[e] them to the beneficial yoke of reason.” It is only through reason, claims the State Gazette, that such civilizations may acquire “mathematically infallible happiness.” The State Gazette makes this announcement in the name of the Benefactor and ends its proclamation by praising the One State, ciphers, and the Benefactor.
The One State condemns freedom as “savage” because it allows for individuals to make destructive decisions that harm themselves as well as the collective whole. Where there is freedom, there is the possibility that individuals will act in unpredictable, harmful ways. Subjugation to reason rids individuals of free will, but also rids them of the capacity to act negatively and irrationally.
Themes
Individuality vs. Collectivism  Theme Icon
Fear of the Unknown  Theme Icon
The narrator is excited to be “taming a wild zigzag […] into a straight line.” He reveals that he is D-503, the Builder of the Integral, and one of the One State’s few mathematicians. D-503 states that his records will be a testament to what “we” think—We will also be the title of his records. D-503 feels his cheeks burn as he recounts how, after he pours his thoughts out into this records, they will be taken from him and handed over to the One State.
D-503’s position as a mathematician signifies that he is especially attuned to and in favor of the One State’s rigorous adherence to logic and rationality. His decision to title his records We shows that he is a firm believer in the One State’s position to value the collective welfare over individuals’ rights. Even in his personal journals, he believes he is speaking on behalf of the collective “we.”
Themes
Individuality vs. Collectivism  Theme Icon
Fear of the Unknown  Theme Icon