An engineer working on the spaceship INTEGRAL, D-503 is the primary protagonist and narrator of We. Unlike the main characters in many other works of dystopian fiction, D-503 is neither brave, nor particularly disturbed by the totalitarian society he lives in. His involvement with the rebellion is powered by his budding love for the anarchic I-330. He admires and prizes order and control, relishing the highly regimented life in OneState. As the novel progresses, D-503 becomes increasingly unhinged. His exposure to I-330 opens a world of emotions that D-503 struggles to manage. In the end, D-503 undergoes a procedure that allows him to finally become a perfectly rational machine.
I-330 embodies the anarchic tendencies in human nature. She breaks OneState laws without hesitation, drinking, smoking, and missing work. As a rebellion leader, she targets D-503, knowing his access to the INTEGRAL is essential to rebel plans. Her real feelings for him are ambiguous; he is likely nothing more than a pawn to her. I-330 believes in revolution for the sake of revolution; in her mind, stability is stagnation. Often symbolized by the letter 'X', I-330 is a variable: unpredictable and inconstant. D-503 describes I-330 as sharp or cutting, often referring to her as a whip. I-330 is extremely dedicated to the rebellion, refusing to betray her cause even under torture.
O-90, D-503's lover and companion, is I-330's opposite. Where I-330 is sharp, O-90 is round and soft. Where I-330 leads rebellions, O-90 wants nothing more than to bear a child. O-90 offers a traditional representation of femininity; she is loving, submissive, and simple. She cares deeply for D-503, and is devastated when he falls in love with I-330. O-90 risks the death penalty to illegally have his child. At the novel's end, I-330 whisks O-90 away to the wilderness, where she can give birth and raise her child safely.
A Guardian (i.e., state police officer), S-4711 spends much of the novel shadowing D-503. Though D-503 is terrified of his presence, S-4711 is actually operating as a secret agent for the rebellion. He intervenes several times to prevent D-503's arrest. Depicted as sly and snake-like, S-4711 remains largely hidden from view, emerging only when needed.
U, the clerk on duty in D-503's apartment building, becomes enamored with the him. A maternal figure, U attempts to protect D-503 from what she sees as the corruptive influence of I-330. Completely dedicated to the state, U betrays D-503 and the rebellion; she believes that she is saving him from his own irrational tendencies. D-503, who finds U unattractive, constantly refers to her as having "gills."
A state poet, R-13 is D-503's close friend. Like D-503, he has a relationship with O-90; the three form an intimate triangle. D-503 becomes increasingly alienated from R-13 as he falls in love with I-330. Like I-330 and S-4711, R-13 is secretly a member of the rebellion. He chafes against the restrictions on his art and life.
The Benefactor is the leader of OneState. The novel often describes him using religious language, and explicitly compares him to God. The Benefactor argues that the cruelty and repression of OneState are needed in order to provide happiness for the majority. He believes people are happy only when there is certainty and they are completely subordinated to a stronger power.
We Questions and Answers
The Question and Answer section for We is a great
resource to ask questions, find answers, and discuss the novel.
Extripating the fancy is an operation remove the soul. No one had a soul... D503 did, though he didn't understand it. The one thing he did know, was that he didn't want anyone performing an operation while he was working on the rocket ship.
During the Day of Unanimity, which features elections, D-503 describes the power of being watched, which supports the theme of surveillance; he writes, "I see how everybody votes for the Benefactor and everybody sees how I vote for the Benefactor"...