We

by

Yevgeny Zamyatin

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We: Record 39 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
D-503 decides that he will undergo the Operation tomorrow morning. He feels too tortured to go on as he is. He wakes up at 10:00 and leaves his apartment. Outside, the sky is clear and pale blue. He forces himself to clear his head and not think. The streets are empty around him. As he walks, he stumbles over a corpse. He looks more closely at it and sees that it is R-13. D-503 arrives at the Bureau of Guardians. Inside, ciphers wait in line to undergo the Operation.
The uncertainty, suffering, and alienation that plague D-503’s life is too much for him to bear, so he decides he’d rather undergo the Operation and live life as a mindless, unfeeling machine. In making this decision, he accepts the One State’s philosophy that freedom and happiness are mutually exclusive.
Themes
Individuality vs. Collectivism  Theme Icon
Alienation Theme Icon
Fear of the Unknown  Theme Icon
D-503 runs into S, who asks him why he’s there. D-503 confesses everything to S—about his involvement with MEPHI, his “real self” and his “shaggy self,” about his increasingly compromised relationship to the One State. When D-503 finishes his confession, S smirks: he knows this is so, because he is also one of “them.”
D-503 regresses back to his old habit of referring to himself in terms of his “real,” subservient self and his “shaggy,” irrational self. In so doing, he denies his innate desire to rebel and act on his human urges. S finally confirms that he is a double agent, working as a Guardian for the One State while serving MEPHI.
Themes
Individuality vs. Collectivism  Theme Icon
Repression of Desire  Theme Icon
D-503 leaves the Bureau of Guardians. He feels ill and begins to groan. His neighbor—the cipher with the forehead like an “enormous bald parabola”—comforts him by telling him that he has been working on his calculations for some time now, and has come to the conclusion that “there is no infinity.” D-503 asks the man for paper so he can finish writing his final record. D-503 asks his neighbor where the “finite universe end[s],” and “what is next?” but he doesn’t respond. D-503 hears stomping above and below him.
When D-503 asks his neighbor “what is next?” he articulates his uncertainty about the man’s calculations: if the universe is finite, there can’t be a “next” thing. As tortured and remorseful as D-503 is with his life at the end of We, his unwillingness to accept his neighbor’s conclusion shows that he has grown as a character. The former, rational D-503 would have gladly and wholeheartedly embraced the assumption that there is no infinity, and nothing that can’t be deduced with logic and mathematical calculations. This new, transformed D-503 is more skeptical.
Themes
Individuality vs. Collectivism  Theme Icon
Fear of the Unknown  Theme Icon