We

by

Yevgeny Zamyatin

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

We: Record 21 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
D-503 writes that I-330 was assigned to see him yesterday and, again, left a confusing note on her pink ticket, instructing D-503 to lower his blinds as though she were actually in his room with him. He goes along with her request without understanding it, as he fears that without I-330 he’ll never know the answers to “those unknown quantities,” such as the secret passageway in the closet at the Ancient House, and he is obligated by the One State to seek answers.
D-503 tries to rationalize his decision to break the law by claiming that he’s only doing so because it will help him gain answers to “those unknown quantities,” which helps the One State.
Themes
Individuality vs. Collectivism  Theme Icon
Repression of Desire  Theme Icon
At 16:00, D-503 takes an aero to the Ancient House: he sees it as his “authorly duty” to do so. The flight there is cloudy and icy. When he arrives, the old woman tells him nobody is there. D-503 is outraged at the woman. He takes out his anger on her in his written record: “Didn’t I populate these pages with all of you? […] Without me, would you have ever been seen by all those I am leading through the narrow footpaths of these written lines.” D-503 makes the old woman lead him to the courtyard, but it is empty. He looks around and tries to find the secret corridor he walked down with I-330, but it’s nowhere to be found.
D-503 cites his “authorly duty’ as the reason he’s going to the Ancient House, thereby denying that his desire to see I-330 has anything to do with his visit. When he angrily reflects on how, without his records, nobody in the One State “would […] have ever been seen,” he acknowledges the significance of his personal records. In this way, he asserts his importance as a creative individual.
Themes
Individuality vs. Collectivism  Theme Icon
Repression of Desire  Theme Icon
Related Quotes
Back in the main courtyard, D-503 runs into S, who inquires after D-503’s health. D-503 remarks that there is an unusually large number of Guardians’ aeros surveilling the sky. S responds with a convoluted explanation that a good doctor begins treating a patient while they are still healthy in the event that they might become sick later. S leaves and D-503 returns home. On his way there, he notes an abundance of birds flying above the Green Wall.
S’s cryptic comment relates to the skinny doctor’s treatment of D-503: the doctor strangely continues to prevent D-503 from having the Operation, despite D-503’s increasingly frequent transgressions, which raises the question of if the doctor is trying to save D-503 for some other purpose. The birds above the Green Wall symbolize nature and the free world, foreshadowing the growing threat the rebels pose to the One State’s power. 
Themes
Individuality vs. Collectivism  Theme Icon
Later that evening, D-503 says, he attempted to write in his record about the Day of the One Vote. However, he found he was unable to write, as he was too distracted by the sound of the wind outside. Later, U comes to D-503’s room. He watches her adjust the pleats of her unif and feels close to her. She tells him about how she found a caricature of her drawn as a fish on the wall of the Children-Rearing Factory, where she works, earlier that day. D-503 assures her she doesn’t look like a fish, and informs his reader that it was wrong of him to describe U’s “gills” in his earlier records.
D-503 had earlier criticized the Ancients for being distracted by their silly absorption with nature, but now he’s absorbed in nature in the same, silly way. He doesn’t acknowledge this similarity outwardly, though, so he represses it. D-503 insists that he was wrong to say U had fish gills in his earlier records because she represents his loyalty to the State. By denying his earlier critiques of her, he symbolically denies his earlier disloyalty to the State.
Themes
Individuality vs. Collectivism  Theme Icon
Repression of Desire  Theme Icon
Get the entire We LitChart as a printable PDF.
We PDF
U continues with her story: she turned the children in to the Guardians, considering her “cruelty” in so doing to be, in fact, an act of love. D-503 understands and commends U’s decision. U then starts to tell him news about the Day of the One Vote, but she stops herself, instead telling D-503 that if he needs anything, she’ll be there for him. U leaves D-503’s room. He falls asleep and has a dream about making love to an old-fashioned, wooden chair.
U’s “cruelty” is motivated by her belief that the collective’s welfare outweighs the rights of individuals. By commending U’s decision to be cruel, D-503 affirms his loyalty to the One State’s collectivist ideology. D-503’s odd dream shows that while he may take active steps to affirm his loyalty to the One State, his unconscious thoughts betray his repressed desire to be disloyal to the government. The wooden chair recalls I-330 and his illicit meetings with her.
Themes
Individuality vs. Collectivism  Theme Icon
Repression of Desire  Theme Icon