We

by

Yevgeny Zamyatin

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We: Record 5 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
The next day, D-503 again expresses discontentment with his records. He’s been addressing his readers too familiarly, as though they were his friend R-13, not alien creatures with no inside knowledge of the One State’s intricacies. Because everything about the One State is a given to D-503, it’s hard for him to regard it from an outsider’s unfamiliar perspective; still, he resolves to try to do so.
D-503’s tendency to criticize his records as inadequately empirical shows his repressed fear that he is not as rational and predictable as he would like to think he is.
Themes
Fear of the Unknown  Theme Icon
Repression of Desire  Theme Icon
D-503 begins his history of the One State by transcribing an ancient adage: “Love and hunger are the masters of the world.” He explains that his ancestors conquered Hunger—and gained control of the entire world—through the Two-Hundred-Year War, a battle waged between the city and the country. Thirty-five years before the One State’s founding, D-503’s ancestors invented petroleum-based food, which allowed for 0.2 percent of earth’s population to survive. While the survival rate was small, it allowed for the One State’s population to live in complete bliss, so D-503 sees it as ethically defendable.
The fact that the One State feeds its ciphers petroleum-based food shows that it regards them more as machines that run on oil than as human beings. D-503’s defense of the Two-Hundred-Year War’s mass casualties reflects the One State’s philosophy that the collective whole’s welfare is far more important than the deaths of individuals.
Themes
Individuality vs. Collectivism  Theme Icon
D-503 reasons that bliss and envy are “the numerator and the denominator of the fraction known as happiness.” Thus, the One State had to wipe out envy so that the sacrifices incurred during the war would be worth it. After, the One State set out to destroy love. In the One State, thus, there is no monogamy: all ciphers have a right to other ciphers for sexual relations. The State studies its citizens’ hormone levels at the Bureau of Sex, determining how often and when ciphers may be granted Sex Days. On one’s assigned Sex Day, they make a request to “make use of” a particular cipher, and the government gives them a pink ticket. Such as system disallows for jealousy or love to develop and peace reigns. The One State’s system makes the Ancients’ “innumerable silly tragedies” an impossibility, so ciphers are better able to live lives of maximized productivity and efficiency.
D-503 thinks that human emotions like bliss and envy can be quantified and predicted in mathematical terms. The One State might claim that it wiped out irrational human emotions like envy and love, but it is really only able to manage them via surveillance and repression. Zamyatin’s rhetorical decision to frame sexual encounters between ciphers as them “mak[ing] use of” one another illustrates how the One State dehumanizes its citizens. Ciphers don’t connect with one another in sexual encounters—they only “make use of” the objectified bodies of one another.
Themes
Individuality vs. Collectivism  Theme Icon
Fear of the Unknown  Theme Icon
Repression of Desire  Theme Icon
D-503 reveals that as he was recording the progress of civilization he felt “some kind of four-pawed X, inside” him. This could’ve been the result of unconsciously spotting his “shaggy” hands perched on the desk before him. He hates his hands because they remind him of his ancestors, the pre-One State barbaric Ancients. He wants to cross out this observation, but leaves it in his records, as he wants them to be as exact and precise as possible. Defensively, D-503 passes off his “X” feeling as a fluke.
When D-503 writes about the “four-pawed X” inside him, he’s referring to his repressed human instincts. D-503’s refusal to ever talk about his urges suggests that he’s in denial about them. He must compartmentalize his impulses, considering them only in abstract, externalized mathematical terms because he cannot accept the possibility that he harbors irrational, unpredictable desires within himself.
Themes
Fear of the Unknown  Theme Icon
Repression of Desire  Theme Icon
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