Zamyatin’s We is a story set far into the future. There is only one country, OneState, and the government controls everything. The story is actually a diary written by the main character, D-503, that is to be sent aboard a space shuttle to other planets in order to describe the greatness of OneState. The diary details the changes that take place in D-503’s life and way of thinking. A woman who was known as I-330 brought about these changes. This anarchistic woman corrupts D-503, throughout the story and steals him away from the woman who loves him, O-90.
These two women, and especially I-330, have major roles in the story that documents D-503’s gaining of a soul. In the beginning of We, D-503 is satisfied with the life he is living in OneState. As a mathematician, OneState is perfectly suited for him. All daily events are scheduled to a certain time block in the day, the citizens have alphanumerical names, and OneState is attempting to create a law of ethics based on addition, subtraction, division, and multiplication. He is a builder of the space shuttle, Integral, which will colonize other planets.
D-503 spends his time with a woman referred to as O-90, or O. O-90 is D-503’s only girlfriend at the beginning of the story although O has two boyfriends. It is not until later on in the story, when D-503 comes to have another girlfriend, I-330, that his life begins to change drastically. O is important to the story because she represents a woman of the old days. She is in rebellion against the OneState that D-503 loves, although she is too peaceful and naive to resort to violence. She is described as looking like her name, short, round, and with the circle of her mouth always open.
O’s wrist has a circle of puffy flesh that is described as being babyish. O is much like a woman from the twentieth century. While D-503 is oblivious to nature, O-90 admires the spring season and the flowers from the botanical museum. O is also in love, a concept that D-503 is not able to understand. She wants to have D-503’s baby, and for that reason she is in rebellion against OneState. OneState would not allow her to become pregnant because she is ten centimeters below the normal height.
After D-503 meets I-330, O writes him a letter proclaiming her love to him, but also to tell him that she will let him go if he truly wants to be with her. Although O-90 is relevant to the story plot, she does not bring about the changes in D-503 that I-330 does. D-503 meets I-330 on a walk with O-90. She is describes as having unusually white, sharp teeth, and appearing slender and tough. Her eyebrows make an X across her face. I-330 is one of the most important characters in We. She is in total rebellion against the government of OneState, as much as D-503 is devoted to it.
She smokes cigarettes and drinks alcohol, which is prohibited by OneState. Because I-330 knows that D-503 is the builder of the Integral, she makes herself a part of her life. By using sex as a weapon on D-503, and seducing him, she is able to make him follow her around do what she says. D-503 is greatly confused by I-330. To him, she is like an irrational number, she does not follow the rules of OneState, just as an irrational number does not follow the rules of mathematics. One of the first changes that occur in D-503 is jealousy.
He was in the middle of a love triangle with O-90 and his friend R-13 for years without being jealous, but when R-13 asks him if he too is with I-330, D-503 responds, ‘What do you mean too?! What is this too? No, wait . . . I demand an answer! ‘;(Zamyatin, 63) Another change in D-503 in the beginning of the relationship is that he begins to see himself as two separate people. This may have begun as a result of the liquor that I-330 supplied, but it scares him to think that he may have a savageness in him that until then only showed with the hair on his hands.
I-330 also gets him to skip work and introduces him to the Old House. His introduction to the Old House is significant because it is there that the world before OneState is preserved. Because I-330 is fascinated with the customs and costumes of the ‘old ways’;, it ultimately effects D-503 as well. It is in the Old House, that D-503 and I-330 have sex without a pink ticket and outside of the time blocked for sexual relations. It is appropriate that afterwards, I-330 states, ‘Well, fallen angel. Now you’re ruined. ; After this encounter, D-503 can no longer be with O-90, and he falls even more in love with I-330.
It is because of I-330 that D-503 develops a soul. This soul that the doctors refer to is imagination, which is dangerous to the government of OneState. This frightens D-503 as he continues to believe that he is completely submissive to OneState long after he begins to follow I-330’s plan. Eventually, I-330 is able to manipulate D-503 into her plan to take over the Integral and use it against the government. The plot ultimately fails through no fault of D-503 and the government captures I-330.
The story ends with D-503, content as he was before he met I-330; this is a result of an operation that removed his imagination. It is with irony that D-503 watches the torture of I-330 with no recollection of the woman he was obsessed with. I-330 and O-90 are both alike in certain ways, but at the same time very different. Both women are in rebellion against OneState. 0-90 wants to have D-503’s child, and I-330 wants a complete change of government. Both women are able to appreciate the way of life before OneState, O-90 likes flowers and nature, and I-330 likes dresses and the music.
These women are different in the way that O-90 is more peaceful, while I-330 is willing to use violence to complete her plan. O is more simple minded and much more likely to be a follower, while I –330 is a leader and a manipulator. Although both women are competing for the same man, they finally unite in rebellion and I-330 agrees to take O-90 outside of the walls of OneState so she can be free with her child. While both women continue to be a part of the story, it is I-330 that wins D-503’s heart, and changes his life forever.