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
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.
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?
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.
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.