We

by

Yevgeny Zamyatin

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Colors Symbol Icon

Color imagery figures prominently in We. D-503 often evokes colors to hint at essential characteristics of people and objects. For example, the color blue evokes clarity and certainty. In Record Two, D-503 emphasizes the blue color of the cloudless sky. “On days like these,” he states, “you can see to the very blue depths of things, to their unknown surfaces, those marvelous expressions of mathematical equality—which exist in even the most usual and everyday objects.” In D-503’s observation, the clearness of the sky’s blue lends it a transparent quality: it allows the viewer to see through the sky’s exterior and into the “unknown surfaces” of the sky’s inner depths.

While blue represents clarity, knowability, and comfort, D-503 tends to associate the color yellow with opacity and the threatening unknown. Zamyatin often evokes the color yellow when D-503 engages in thoughts or activities that go against the One State’s rules. For example, when D-503 first goes with I-330 to the Ancient House, she changes into an old-fashioned, yellow dress—a garment explicitly prohibited in a society that condemns any outward expression of individuality. When I-330 inexplicably disappears and remains away from D-503 for a stretch of several days, he anguishes over her absence and not knowing where she is, whom she is with, or what she is doing. The world around him is no longer a crisp, clear blue, but a murky, threatening yellow: “All days are the same yellow color, like desiccated, incandescent sand, and there is not a tatter of a shadow, not a drop of water—it is yellow sand without end.”

D-503’s tendency to attach colors to people and objects also serves as an indirect means by which he can make subjective, creative observations about the world around him without being overly expressive. Because the One State condemns expressions of individuality, D-503 is actively guarded and skeptical of personal creativity. By describing people and objects using colors—descriptors that one may objectively, logically see with one’s own eyes—he strikes a compromise between describing the world logically and expressively. D-503’s rhetorical strategy also serves as evidence of his tendency to deny and repress his innate capacity for individuality, irrationality, and other human characteristics the One State condemns.

Colors Quotes in We

The We quotes below all refer to the symbol of Colors. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Individuality vs. Collectivism  Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Modern Library edition of We published in 2006.
Record 2 Quotes

On days like these, you can see to the very blue depths of things, to their unknown surfaces, those marvelous expressions of mathematical equality—which exist in even the most usual and everyday objects.

Related Characters: D-503 (speaker), I-330
Related Symbols: Colors
Page Number: 5
Explanation and Analysis:
Record 21 Quotes

Didn’t I populate these pages with all of you? Not long ago they were just four-cornered, white deserts. Without me, would you have ever been seen by all those that I am leading through the narrow footpaths of these written lines?

Related Characters: D-503 (speaker), Old Woman
Related Symbols: Colors
Page Number: 105
Explanation and Analysis:
Record 27 Quotes

The sun…it wasn’t our sun, evenly distributed along the mirrored surfaces of the streets: it was live splinters and incessantly jumping dots, blinding your eyes and spinning your head. And the trees were like candles jutting right up into the sky; like spiders on gnarled paws squatting on the earth; like mute, green fountains…And everything is crawling, stirring, rustling, and a sort of rough, little tangle rushes up underfoot and I am riveted, I can’ take one step because it is not level under my feet—do you understand? It was not level but sort of repulsively soft, yielding, living, green, bouncy.

Related Characters: D-503 (speaker), I-330
Related Symbols: Colors
Page Number: 135-136
Explanation and Analysis:

In a blink, I am somewhere up high and underneath me are heads and heads, and gaping, screaming mouths, and arms pouring upward and then falling. This was exceptionally strange, intoxicating: I felt myself above everyone, I was myself, a separate thing, a world; I stopped being a component, as I had been, and I became the number one.

Related Characters: D-503 (speaker), I-330
Related Symbols: Colors
Page Number: 138
Explanation and Analysis:
Get the entire We LitChart as a printable PDF.
We PDF

Colors Symbol Timeline in We

The timeline below shows where the symbol Colors appears in We. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Record 2
Individuality vs. Collectivism  Theme Icon
Fear of the Unknown  Theme Icon
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... (full context)
Individuality vs. Collectivism  Theme Icon
Repression of Desire  Theme Icon
...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... (full context)
Individuality vs. Collectivism  Theme Icon
Fear of the Unknown  Theme Icon
...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... (full context)
Individuality vs. Collectivism  Theme Icon
Alienation Theme Icon
Fear of the Unknown  Theme Icon
...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... (full context)
Alienation Theme Icon
Fear of the Unknown  Theme Icon
...though he can’t, because it’s not yet their assigned Sex Day. D-503 kisses her clear, blue eyes, and they part ways. (full context)
Record 3
Fear of the Unknown  Theme Icon
...unfamiliar with history’s more recent events—like the fact that no ciphers have stepped beyond the Green Wall since the Two-Hundred-Year War.  (full context)
Individuality vs. Collectivism  Theme Icon
Fear of the Unknown  Theme Icon
Repression of Desire  Theme Icon
...first, this was likely difficult to adjust to, but D-503 can’t imagine life without the Green Wall or the Table of Hours—an organizing mechanism for the One State’s ciphers, assigning purpose... (full context)
Record 6
Fear of the Unknown  Theme Icon
Repression of Desire  Theme Icon
...an aero to the Ancient House. A cloud appears before them in the formerly clear, blue sky. D-503 spots blotches of green on the ground beyond the Green Wall. (full context)
Individuality vs. Collectivism  Theme Icon
Fear of the Unknown  Theme Icon
They enter through an opaque door into an apartment, whose walls are dark-blue. There are multicolored books in the room, a candelabra, and a Buddha statue. The room... (full context)
Record 7
Individuality vs. Collectivism  Theme Icon
Repression of Desire  Theme Icon
...night, D-503 dreams about his afternoon at the Ancient House with I-330. He wakes to bluish light and the glass fixtures of his transparent apartment, which is comforting to him. He... (full context)
Record 10
Individuality vs. Collectivism  Theme Icon
Fear of the Unknown  Theme Icon
...21:00 and D-503 is heading to meet I-330 anyway. He arrives and gives her the pink ticket. D-503 expresses frustration at not being able to know what I-330 is thinking, noting... (full context)
Record 11
Individuality vs. Collectivism  Theme Icon
Alienation Theme Icon
It’s evening, and the sky is a cloudy and opaque white. D-503 scoffs, reminded of the Ancients’ foolish belief in God; the One State, in contrast,... (full context)
Individuality vs. Collectivism  Theme Icon
Repression of Desire  Theme Icon
...and rationality. R-13 senses this and embraces D-503. R-13 tells D-503 that O-90 has a pink ticket for D-503, and that D-503 is clearly something special to O-90—not just a pink... (full context)
Record 13
Fear of the Unknown  Theme Icon
Repression of Desire  Theme Icon
...up to go to work it’s foggy outside and the sky is immensely cloudy and white. He returns home before leaving for his required physical labor session, and I-330 calls him... (full context)
Record 14
Individuality vs. Collectivism  Theme Icon
Alienation Theme Icon
Fear of the Unknown  Theme Icon
...her he’s sick. When it’s time, D-503 lowers the blinds. D-503 begins to kiss O’s pink mouth. She is happy to be intimate with D-503 at first, but she sees how... (full context)
Record 17
Individuality vs. Collectivism  Theme Icon
Alienation Theme Icon
Fear of the Unknown  Theme Icon
Repression of Desire  Theme Icon
...for a long walk. He ends up on a street along the edge of the Green Wall. D-503 looks at the wild growth that lies beyond it and feels fortunate to... (full context)
Record 18
Individuality vs. Collectivism  Theme Icon
Alienation Theme Icon
Fear of the Unknown  Theme Icon
Repression of Desire  Theme Icon
...him only fear and uncertainty. He connects this to all that is unknown behind the Green Wall. (full context)
Record 21
Individuality vs. Collectivism  Theme Icon
...returns home. On his way there, he notes an abundance of birds flying above the Green Wall. (full context)
Record 23
Individuality vs. Collectivism  Theme Icon
Fear of the Unknown  Theme Icon
...stops herself. Her eyes become unreadable to D-503. D-503 thinks about the birds above the Green Wall that he saw the other day. Suddenly, I-330 begins to get dressed. D-503 tells... (full context)
Record 25
Individuality vs. Collectivism  Theme Icon
Fear of the Unknown  Theme Icon
Repression of Desire  Theme Icon
...voting. He’s forgotten about I-330’s cryptic remarks yesterday. The Benefactor emerges out of the clear, blue sky and the ciphers look upon him in admiration. A poet reads an ode. D-503... (full context)
Individuality vs. Collectivism  Theme Icon
Repression of Desire  Theme Icon
...gaze reminds him of the wild person he saw on the other side of the Green Wall.  (full context)
Record 27
Individuality vs. Collectivism  Theme Icon
...in [his] head.” The record continues: initially, he imagines that the rebels blew up the Green Wall while he waited for I-330 in the corridor, but she says they have not.... (full context)
Individuality vs. Collectivism  Theme Icon
...D-503, and he is alone. Suddenly, he sees her above the crowd, perched upon a yellow rock. She addresses the masses, announcing their plans to steal the Integral. When the Integral... (full context)
Record 28
Individuality vs. Collectivism  Theme Icon
Repression of Desire  Theme Icon
...I-330 tells him that MEPHI developed out a small group of survivors left beyond the Green Wall.  (full context)
Record 32
Individuality vs. Collectivism  Theme Icon
Repression of Desire  Theme Icon
...safety of her unborn child that she accepts D-503’s offer to sneak her across the Green Wall—even if such a plot must involve I-330. Suddenly, D-503 sees S behind him and... (full context)
Record 36
Fear of the Unknown  Theme Icon
Repression of Desire  Theme Icon
D-503 feels like his head is “an empty white page.” He doesn’t remember walking to see the Benefactor, only regaining consciousness as he stands... (full context)
Record 37
Individuality vs. Collectivism  Theme Icon
Alienation Theme Icon
...in the air. The cipher with “the overhanging-forehead” approaches D-503 and tells him that the Green Wall has been breached. D-503 demands to know where I-330 is, but the man responds... (full context)