It’s Spring. A wild expanse of nature sits beyond the Green Wall. The sky is blue and cloudless, and D-503 imagines that “the Ancients” might have written silly, poetic musings to evoke the beauty of clouds. In contrast, D-503 and his cohort love the cloudless sky for its “sterile” and clear quality: it allows its viewer to see all, as though it were made of glass, like the “Green Wall,” and like all of the One State’s architectural structures. D-503 praises the ability to know all, likening it to “those marvelous expressions of mathematical equality.”
D-503 frequently uses colors to convey truths about the world around him. Blue, for instance, evokes clarity and certainty. When the sky is blue, there is no room for doubt and suffering: all is visible. His criticism of the “Ancients” poetic musings on clouds (pre-One State citizens who embrace irrationality and uncertainty) stems from their belief that there is beauty in uncertainty and clouded ambiguity. This passage may be subtly alluding to Romantic poet William Wordsworth’s poem “I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud.” In contrast, clear, blue skies and the One State’s sterile, precise architectural structures are beautiful to D-503 because they are like “marvelous expressions of mathematical equality.” They leave no room for misinterpretation and subjectivity.
As an example of this, D-503 recounts that he was at the hangar earlier that morning working on the Integral when he noticed the beauty of the machines working around him. The machines were operating predictably and mechanically, which D-503 regards as beautiful because it is an example of “non-free movement” and “subordination.”
Machines are beautiful to D-503 because their movements are pre-planned, programmed, and predictable. In the beginning sections of We, D-503 finds beauty in “subordination,” and discomfort and frustration in freedom and unpredictability.
D-503’s musing are interrupted by the click of an intercom, which alerts him to O-90’s imminent arrival: the two of them have a walk scheduled together that afternoon. D-503 regards O-90 pleasantly, noting her round, soft, and welcoming appearance and demeanor. She is agreeable and kind in his company, and her mouth is a “pink O.” She is quite short, at “10 centimeters below the Maternal Norm.” They greet each other and venture outside for their walk.
The color pink is otherwise associated with the pink tickets ciphers must obtain before they can engage in scheduled, state-sanctioned “Sex Days” with other ciphers. When D-503 describes O-90’s mouth as pink, he implicitly associates her with subordinance to the One State’s rules and regulations. It’s important to note that O-90 is “10 centimeters below the Maternal Norm.” Throughout We, she expresses a deep longing to have a baby, but is unable to act on this desire because the One State prohibits it.
It’s crowded outside, as people normally use the “Personal Hour” after lunch to walk when it’s nice outside. D-503 can hear the “March of the One State” flowing from the Music Factory. He reveals that ciphers are required to march in synchronized step. They also wear “pale bluish unifs” with badges that list the respective numeric identifies assigned to them by the One State. D-503 observes the order and uniformity that surrounds him and relishes in its “quadratic harmony,” especially in comparison to the earlier, irregular chaos of 20th-century civilizations.
The “Personal Hour” should be taken somewhat ironically: although the government presents it as being an hour of free time, it’s closely monitored and regulated by the One State, so it’s only “personal” on a symbolic level. D-503’s observation of the One State’s beauty as “quadratic” underscores his—and, by extension, the One State’s—belief that order and subjugation is beautiful and irregularity and randomness is ugly.
Just then, an unfamiliar woman with sharp teeth laughs and tells D-503 that his revelatory, “inspired” face and laughter reminds her of a mythical god gazing upon his newly created world. D-503 is annoyed by the woman, observing that she has “a strange and irritating X to her.” D-503 reads the badge of her uniform: I-330.
When I-330 describes D-503’s face as “inspired,” it makes him uncomfortable because it suggests that his internal thoughts are personal and subjective: her observation positions him as an individual and not a mere cog in the One State’s collectivist machine. When he says that she has “a strange and irritating X to her,” he means that her face is unreadable and, thus, that her thoughts and intentions cannot be known. D-503 frequently describes the unknown in terms of the mathematical variable “X,” underscoring his tendancy to observe the world through a rational, mathematical lens. In using the variable “X,” D-503 also implies that everything should be solvable, like an algebraic equation.
D-503 notes how sharp and angular I-330 is compared to O-90. He sees that she has sharp, white teeth. He also notes a male cipher walking next to her, who has a bent body that resembles an S. D-503 becomes increasingly riled in I-330’s presence and rattles off more logic and praises his world’s scientific advancements, promising that in the future everyone will look even more identical. I-330 asks D-503 to show her his hands, which further embarrasses him, as his hands are shaggy: “Monkey hands,” he calls them.
When D-503 emphasizes how starkly I-330’s sharp, angular frame contrasts with O-90’s soft, round frame, it signifies to the reader that the women are foils for one another. While O-90 is round, pleasing, and subservient to the One State, I-330 is sharp, threatening, and—as the reader and D-503 later learn—opposed to the One State. The whiteness of I-330’s teeth recalls the whiteness of clouds, evoking the uncertainty and frustration with which D-503 regards her. D-503 is embarrassed by his shaggy “monkey hands” because they align him with the free, barbaric Ancients and distance him from the clean, subordinate One State ciphers.
The Accumulator Tower bell strikes 17:00, and the Personal Hour is over. Before the foursome parts ways, I-330 tells D-503 to drop by Auditorium 112 the day after tomorrow. He protests that he doesn’t know whether he’ll be given instructions to do so, but she confidently asserts that he will. Before O-90 leaves, she tells D-503 she wishes he could come over and “lower the blinds,” even though he can’t, because it’s not yet their assigned Sex Day. D-503 kisses her clear, blue eyes, and they part ways.
When D-503 notes O-90’s blue eyes, he embraces her clarity and knowability. O-90 is predictable—and therefore comforting—to D-503 in a way that I-330 is not.