We Summary and Analysis of Records 9-16


D-503 reports to the Cube to view the execution of a dissident. He celebrates the supposedly rational sacrifice society makes of individuals in order to better preserve the happiness of the whole. He has no sympathy for the rebel. The prisoner, his hands bound with purple ribbons, climbs into a special machine. The Benefactor waives his hands, prompting two state poets, one of whom is R-13, to read verses. Afterwards, the Benefactor himself pulls the lever, causing a bright flash of sparks that disintegrate the man into nothing but a puddle of “chemically pure water” (48). Women gather to ceremonially pin flowers to the Benefactor’s suit and D-503 muses that the Guardians are like a modern version of guardian angels.

I-330 submits a sexual request for D-503, forcing him to meet her at her apartment. She confronts him about failing to report her, certain that he will not betray her. I-330 dons an old-fashioned dress, smokes a cigarette and offers D a green liqueur. Both alcohol and nicotine are illegal in OneState. As they talk, D-503 realizes she has slept with S-4711 and becomes irrationally jealous. When she kisses him, I-330 pushes a mouthful of liqueur into D-503’s mouth, intoxicating him. He hallucinates that the earth is full of fire below him and that his animal side is emerging. When I-330 mentions another lover, a doctor, D-503 dissociates, seeing himself as an animal, and roughly bites her. Afterwards he begs her for intimacy, but she simply reminds him of the time. Realizing he is late, D-503 prepares to leave. He steals away through empty streets towards his apartment.

D-503 watches himself in the mirror and does not recognize the stranger reflected there. A short time later, R-13 visits but seems unwilling to talk about his performance at the execution. R-13 talks of the choice between happiness and freedom, musing that OneState is doing God’s work by returning citizens to a state of child-like innocence and dependence. He jokingly refers to D-503 as Adam and I-330 as Eve. Compulsively, D-503 asks the poet if he has ever had alcohol and admits to seeing I-330. When R-13 jokes about I-330’s many lovers, D-503 nearly attacks him. After R-13 exits, D is left alone thinking about his “other me”, who he blames for his recent outbursts (63). He reflects that the intimate triangle between he R-13 and O-90 is broken.

D-503 writes while waiting for O-90 to arrive for scheduled sex. He thinks about the constant presence of S-4711 and is reassured, explaining that monitoring helps him to be a better citizen. He reads a book of poems left by R-13 during their last meeting, enjoying a particular verse about the perfection on multiplication tables. In OneState all poetry and art are utilitarian, promoting values championed by the government. Poem subjects are assigned and controlled by the state. D-503 disparages the poetry of earlier eras, where poets wrote whatever they dreamt of.

A morning fog has rolled in and engulfed the city; the clear glass walls no longer allow D-503 to see his neighbors. I-330 calls and asks to meet him; D-503 finds himself angrily skipping work as he waits for her in the street. The morning sun suffuses the fog with a beautiful pink and golden color. They travel to see I-330’s lover, the doctor, who writes sick notes for each of them. D-503 understands he is breaking laws, but believes the day is simply meant to be. She takes him to the Ancient House, where they have unscheduled, spontaneous sex. I-330 orders him to leave, but he rushes back into the room only to find that I-330 has completely vanished. Having no idea how she could have left without him noticing, D-503 is disturbed. He writes that the entire day had the feeling of a dream.

The next day D-503 goes to retrieve his pass for sex with O-90 and informs an inquisitive clerk that he is sick. He even produces the doctor’s note, proving the previous afternoon was not a dream. When she arrives, O senses that something has changed in D, but they attempt to have sex regardless. Unfortunately, D-503 cannot physically perform and she is devastated. The night ends with O-90 crying in her pillow and D-503 sitting on the cold, hard floor of his bedroom.

D-503 returns to work and awkwardly explains his sickness to his co-worker. An employee tells him that while he was sick the day before a man with no number was found sneaking around the office and taken to Operations, the agency responsible for torturing dissidents. D writes approvingly of a giant Gas Bell used by Operations to asphyxiate people. He explains that such methods are for the good of the people as a whole. D-503 loses his train of thought while speaking to a co-worker and is told he should see the Medical Bureau to have his imagination removed. Unflustered, D watches a group of men work in perfect unison on the INTEGRAL, admiring their collective nature. When one of the men innocently asks if he is feeling better, D-503 panics and finds an excuse to leave. He reflects melancholically that he will never again be a part in a machine.

I-330 hasn’t contacted D-503 since the night she disappeared. D’s whole world has lost meaning, becoming depressed and yellow. He submits a sexual request for her, but I-330 never visits him. D-503 feels alienated from the world that once made him happy and utterly alone. He wanders through I-330’s building until he finds her, but she answers all his questions with silence. S-4711 appears to escort D-503 to the Medical Bureau, where the doctor he visited with I-330 confirms his sickness, explaining he has developed a soul. The doctor explains the condition by comparing D-503 to a melting mirror. He used to be reflective and cold, but he’s become soft and porous; people and events are leaving their mark on his consciousness (87). Another doctor suggests surgery to remove his imagination, but the second reminds him that as an engineer on the INTEGRAL, D-503 will need all his faculties. The original doctor confides that there is something of a soul epidemic and orders him to take more walks.


Zamyatin draws comparisons between OneState and religion in order to highlight the irrationality of worshipping supposed rationality. During an execution, D-503 describes a state of ecstasy, which is “something like what the ancients felt during their ‘divine service’” (45). He speaks of “sacrifices” (45) and “ancient custom” (46), two things far divorced from the logic claimed to undergird the state. The story of Prometheus appears on the lips of a state poet, where it is inverted: in this version Prometheus protects the fire and a madman steals it (47). OneState has its own religious parables, further cementing the religious nature of citizen’s faith in the government. D-503 even refers to the state police as “guardian angels," always watching citizens to ensure they do right (65).

When describing the creation of OneState, R-13 invokes a specific Christian story, that of Adam and Eve (61). In the Biblical version, Adam and Eve are evicted from Paradise after tasting the fruit of forbidden knowledge. OneState has attempted to reverse this narrative, stripping citizens of freedom and knowledge in order to take them back to a state of innocence. Indeed, model citizens, such as D-503’s cheerful coworker, are often referred to as “childlike” (81). As the woman tempting D-503 with knowledge, I-330 represents Eve. D-503 is We’s Adam. In one sense, Zamyatin is re-telling the story of the fall from a different perspective, one that questions the motives behind keeping humanity ignorant.

In these records D-503 begins to develop what the novel refers to as a soul. He experiences intense jealousy each time he hears of I-330’s different lovers, even reacting violently. This reveals his growing, completely irrational infatuation with I-330. D’s world begins to fill with color; before, the novel was filled with transparent glass. Now his emotions begin to shade his life. The day he has spontaneous sex with I-330 is suffused beautiful tinges of pink and gold (71). Yet after she fails to contact him the world seems yellow, “like desiccated, hyper-heated sand” (83). Representatives of OneState, like S-4711, becoming “gray-blue”; D-503 feels himself alone, drowning in a gray-blue waves (84). The protagonist can sense he’s become different, reflecting that he can never again be a cog in the OneState machine (82).

D-503 is terrified of and confused by the new emotions he begins to experience. He identifies them with his dark, irrational side, disassociating completely. He describes himself biting I-330 in the third person, blaming his alter ego for his behavior (57). The same justification is invoked when he nearly attacks R-13; he writes of “the other me, wild, hairy, panting” reaching out to choke the poet (63). As D-503 sits in front of a mirror, he finds he cannot recognize himself (59). Later he imagines watching himself writhe in bed (60). D-503 is so alienated from the irrational, emotional aspects of himself that he imagines them as if they were a completely separate persona.

The perfectly crystalline world presented in the first Records becomes increasingly cloudy as D-503 becomes cognizant of emotions and private thoughts, both his own and others’. D’s infatuation leaves him confused, in a fog, both literally and symbolically. The future, the actions of others and D-503’s desires no longer seem clear. Moreover, D-503 recognizes that people are opaque; one cannot peer into another’s head and read their thoughts or intentions. He refers to I-330 as an old-fashioned, brick apartment and desperately tries to use her eyes as windows into her mind (52). Likewise, he describes R-13’s head as a suitcase hiding “strange baggage that [he] can’t understand” (61). The world is not as clear as it seemingly was at the beginning of the novel.