We

by

Yevgeny Zamyatin

Teachers and parents! Struggling with distance learning? Our Teacher Edition on We can help.

We: Record 11 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
It’s evening, and the sky is a cloudy and opaque white. D-503 scoffs, reminded of the Ancients’ foolish belief in God; the One State, in contrast, knows there is nothing up there. D-503 stands before a mirror and, for the first time, sees particularly masculine features in himself: “I am him,” he says. This “him” is an “alien” to D-503, and he insists that he—the narrator—is the real D-503, and not this masculine man he sees in the mirror.
It’s jarring for D-503 to see his distinctly masculine features in the mirror because these physical attributes make him unique, something that is condemned in the One State. Yesterday’s sexual encounter with I-330 emphasized to him that he is a man and she is a woman. This fundamental difference opens up door for him to discover the infinite other number of ways that he is different from I-330 and from other ciphers. This possibility frightens him, as the State insists that individuality is a threat to the collective’s welfare, and D-503 desperately wants to be loyal to the One State. When D-503 insists that his masculine self is “alien” to him, he implies that he feels alienated from his former self.
Themes
Individuality vs. Collectivism  Theme Icon
Alienation Theme Icon
Twenty minutes later, R-13 arrives. D-503 is happy for the company, as he doesn’t want to be alone with his other self. D-503 praises the impact of R-13’s poetry at the execution the other day. R-13’s eyes look troubled, though, and he admits that he’s tired of hearing about the execution. He changes the subject and cheers up, telling D-503 that he’s writing new poetry about the Integral. His new work will explore the choice between “happiness without freedom or freedom without happiness,” celebrating the One State’s decision to embrace happiness without freedom, which simplifies life and eliminates the need to sort out good from evil and right from wrong.
It’s possible that R-13 has an ulterior motive for bringing up his new Integral poetry. R-13’s new poetry’s assertion that happiness and freedom are mutually exclusive denies the possibility that humans can be happy and free at the same time. If humans are free, they are free to act on desire, and the One State believes that desire leads only to suffering and unhappiness.
Themes
Individuality vs. Collectivism  Theme Icon
Fear of the Unknown  Theme Icon
Repression of Desire  Theme Icon
D-503 respects R-13’s plans for his new poetry and thinks about how he admires his friend’s clarity and rationality. R-13 senses this and embraces D-503. R-13 tells D-503 that O-90 has a pink ticket for D-503, and that D-503 is clearly something special to O-90—not just a pink ticket, as R-13 is to her.
D-503 respects R-13’s poetry because it is purposeful: it doesn’t articulate R-13’s individual musings but, rather, espouses the One State’s principles. The fact that D-503 is special to O-90 weakens the One State’s claim that controlling ciphers’ sex lives eliminates love and envy.
Themes
Individuality vs. Collectivism  Theme Icon
Repression of Desire  Theme Icon
This makes D-503 think about his night with I-330. He asks R-13 if he’s ever tried nicotine or alcohol. D-503 can read the concern in R-13’s face. R-13 admits that he hasn’t, but “one woman” he knows has. D-503 immediately knows R-13 is speaking of I-330. He thinks about his masculine features and watches as his other “wild, shaggy” self becomes jealous of R-13. D-503 regains composure and apologizes to R-13, explaining that he’s been sick. R-13 says he is familiar with the feeling, “theoretically.” R-13 throws D-503 a book of his latest poetry and then leaves. D-503 anguishes over the irrationality of the jealousy he feels.
D-503’s must watch his “wild, shaggy” self grow jealous of R-13 because he cannot accept that he’s capable of acting on irrational, jealous impulses. Similarly, R-13 can only tell D-503 that he knows the feeling of being sick “theoretically,” because he doesn’t want to outwardly admit to D-503 that he’s indulged in condemned activities.
Themes
Individuality vs. Collectivism  Theme Icon
Alienation Theme Icon
Repression of Desire  Theme Icon
Get the entire We LitChart as a printable PDF.
We PDF