“The spread-eagled body was covered by a light, sparkling little puff of smoke, and then before our eyes it began to melt, and melt, and it dissolved so fast it was horrible. And then—nothing. A puddle of chemically pure water, which just a moment ago had been in a heart, red, beating up a storm” (48)
D-503 describes the execution of a dissident in the Machine of the Benefactor. Instruments of death, like guillotine or electric chair, are usually gruesome. However, OneState's machine is oddly sanitized, dissolving an entire human body into air without spilling a drop of blood. D-503 uses language like "chemically pure" and "sparkling" to underscore the sterility of the execution. A man's humanity, his stormy heart, has been reduced to nothing but a clear pool of water. In repressing emotions, desires and imagination, OneState has attempted to sanitize man and render him transparent. The Machine of the Benefactor symbolizes this transformation.
“I see it plainly even now: In the dark, through a crack in the door, a sharp ray of sunlight shatters on the floor like lightning, then on the wall of the wardrobe, then higher… and then this cruel flashing blade falls on I-330’s open, naked throat… and I find this so horrible that I can’t stands it, I scream… and once more open my eyes” (97)
D-503 dreams of a foreboding image suggesting I-330's ultimate death. His language helps clarify the violence of the image: a beam of light from the window is "sharp", "shatters" like "lightning" and transforms into a "cruel flashing blade." The description of "I-330's open, naked throat" highlights her helplessness and vulnerability before the insidious light. As D-503 falls in love, his language becomes more descriptive, filled with evocative images. This passage showcases the protagonist's increasingly emotional and dream-like language.
“So here I am, drunk with joy, going down the stairs to the duty desk, and before my very eyes, quickly, silently, thousand-year buds are popping open all around me, everywhere, and armchairs are blossoming, and shoes, golden badges, lightbulbs, someone’s dark long-lashed eyes, the faceted columns of the banisters, a handkerchief lost on the stairs, the table of the one on duty, and above the table the gentle cheeks of U, brown with spots” (125)
D-503 describes how his world transforms as he falls in love with I-330. The rational mathematician finds himself "drunk with joy"--like alcohol, passion makes one irrational--and the entire landscape transforms. D-503 invokes the image of flowers blooming to describe how beautiful he finds the same things that he once found mundane. The long list emphasizes the unspectacular nature of the things D-503 sees bloom: "lightbulbs", "columns", and even "shoes." The prose is soft and descriptive, layered with several clauses. D-503 is writing in the language of love; his emotions have affected his once-rational entries.
“That’s the image that burnt itself into me deepest of all: thousands of silent mouths, screaming—like something projected on a monstrous screen” (139)
In the chaos at the Day of Unanimity, D-503 witnesses a man screaming, but cannot hear his voice above the rioting all around him; the silent scream is impressed in his mind. The image of a silent scream effectively communicates the quiet desperation of OneState citizens. Brutally repressed, Numbers cannot express dissent, or even emotions; they must silence their thoughts. Yet their agony still exists. The image is so powerful that it "burns" itself into D-503's consciousness. In the anarchy following the vote, the scene haunts him, drowning out all else.
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"...