We

by

Yevgeny Zamyatin

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We: Record 4 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Discord and unpredictability enter into D-503’s formerly clear life the next day when he is actually called to Auditorium 112, an event of which there was a mere 3/20,000 likelihood of happening. When D-503 arrives, he and the other ciphers rise and sing the Hymn of the One State. Over a loudspeaker, a voice tells the story of a barbarian and a barometer as a screen displays images to accompany the tale. The barbarian observed that every time the barometer’s mercury level indicated rain, it rained; when he wanted it to rain, thus, he emptied out enough mercury so that the level mercury level read rain. The barbarian’s reasoning might be archaic, but it demonstrated logic and a knowledge of cause and effect, which was civilization’s first step toward achieving the One State’s level of rational sophistication.
It’s discomforting to D-503 that he’s called to Auditorium 112 because this means that I-330’s prediction defied statistical odds. I-330’s unlikely prediction means that D-503 cannot rely completely on statistics and mathematics to navigate his way through life, as there’s always the chance that unlikely events will occur. The story about the barbarian’s rudimentary engagement with cause and effect is meant to suggest that logic and rationality are humanity’s default condition—not irrationality and freedom.
Themes
Fear of the Unknown  Theme Icon
The loudspeaker shifts to the assembly’s main topic: music. The voice talks about the Ancients’ music, likening it to the product of “a strange form of epilepsy.” On stage, the curtains part to reveal a piano. I-330, dressed in a tight black dress, walks up to the instrument and plays some of the Ancients’ “convulsive” music. All around D-503, most ciphers laugh at the ludicrousness and unpredictability of such music, but D-503 is initially emotionally stirred by I-330’s performance. He notes her pale skin and her teeth. D-503 knocks himself from his emotional trance and begins to laugh with the rest of the ciphers as he registers how silly and emotional the music sounds.
Describing the Ancients’ music as “a strange form of epilepsy” aligns human creativity and ingenuity with sickness and abnormality. Still, D-503’s initially emotional response to I-330’s performance shows that there is something innately beautiful to be found in human gestures of subjective expressivity. D-503’s minor slip here is an early sign of his romance with I-330 and his path toward defying the One State’s demands.
Themes
Individuality vs. Collectivism  Theme Icon
After this, the ciphers listen to their society’s contemporary music. This music is derived of “Taylor and Maclaurin formulae” and is “whole-toned and quadrilateral-heavy.” D-503 relishes in its mechanical predictability. After this second performance, the ciphers exist the auditorium. D-503 remembers that O-90 is scheduled to come over in an hour, as it is their Sex Day, and the only occasion on which they may lower the blinds of their transparent, glass-walled apartments. At 22:00, D-503 tears O-90’s pink ticket and the two have brief, mechanical sex. Afterward, D-503 shows her his records. O-90 suddenly cries, which D-503 attributes to her wishing he could give her a baby, something she cries over regularly. He also wonders whether her tears could be in response to the new woman before deciding that would be stupid.
Colin Maclaurin was an 18th-century Scottish mathematician known for his Treatise of Fluxions, in which he explores Taylor series, or mathematical functions that involve the representation of an infinite sum of terms. The One State’s decision to compose music in terms of algebraic and geometric functions eliminates the need for human ingenuity and aligns musical beauty with predictability and mathematical precision. On another note, O-90’s desire to have a baby shows that she is not completely subservient to the One State: she still harbors rebellious, emotional, human urges.
Themes
Individuality vs. Collectivism  Theme Icon
Fear of the Unknown  Theme Icon
Repression of Desire  Theme Icon
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