Crowdsourcing D-503’s Transformation As Writer, Thinker, Individual

As part of our reading of We, we are exploring the un/reliability of the narrator/narrative, the conflation of fact/fiction, the revision of memories, the reconstruction of experience, the ways in which storytellers attempt to portray their own, individual, personal truths (which may not be the same as the “objective” truth or the dominant view of the State). As a dystopian novel explicitly written in the form of a journal, We is a rich text for performing a close reading around these “self-conscious” moments in the narrative.

I am particularly interested in us tracing how, through the act of writing itself, D-503 moves from merely recording the values of the One State that he has already internalized, to developing an individual, rebellious, free-thinking understanding about the world and his place in it. Consider the journal entry titles and headings, D-503’s comments on why he is writing/who he is writing for (and how/why this changes), conflicts, competing sets of values, etc.

In preparation for Thursday’s class (4/10), everyone should post at least two comments (one for the reading, Entries 1-16, from Th 4/3, due by Su 4/6; one for the reading for Th 4/10, Entries 17-26, due W 4/9) as a reply to this post (though I encourage many more) that provides places where D-503 explicitly draws attention (in a meta-fiction way) to the fact that he is carefully/consciously constructing a narrative and controlling his reader’s reception of the text. Your comment (reply) can be just a few sentences: provide the quote/citation and a quick explanation of how/why it functions. Feel free to post multiple comments, and also to respond to others. If you’ve already discussed some of these instances in your previous blogs, you should feel free to draw on that material.

We’ll add to these comments with the final section of the book we’ll read during spring break, until we have a class-generated archive of all of these instances in the text.

17 thoughts on “Crowdsourcing D-503’s Transformation As Writer, Thinker, Individual

  1. In “We” we have been exposed to the oppressive environment created by the ”Benefactor” and his minions which has stripped away the humanity from the populace. Human emotion has been slowly weaned out of the people. However, we see with D-503 that despite every effort to turn the people into Human robots, that the greatest and most powerful human emotion will not go quietly…love. “But I was disturbed by that little smile; the ink drop muddied my transparent solution. So much, that later, at the Integral construction site, I could not concentrate and even made a mistake in my calculation, which had never happened to me before”(page 51). The builder D-503 who has been raised and influenced to be a mathematical “cog in the wheel” can’t escape his core human essence, no matter how hard they try to take it out of him. The smile of I-303 is enough to undue years of conditioning! He can concentrate because the human heart is still more powerful than the brain.

    • Thanks Anna for being the first brave soul to take part in this discussion! I really like the quote you chose, and your analysis of it, but I’m wondering how it is related to the topic of this particular class discussion, which is how D-503, through the act of writing itself (in his journal) transforms?

  2. In my opinion, I feel that this story went from an informational type of journal to a more intimate daily diary between the fifth and sixth entries. This was also around the time D-503 went to the Ancient House with I-330. So I believe that after he met her it influenced his writing and steered it into a more personal style of writing. Quick way to tell is also in the topics, they are slowly becoming more about him rather then general topics about the One State.

    • I absolutely agree with Brian. D-503 starts off a bit mechanical and robotic, without much free thought. After meeting I-330 he begins to slowly peel away his mechanical shell and in turn becomes a poet himself. What I mean, is that his words begin to paint pictures of emotion rather than the robotic style in which he was logging at the beginning of the book.

      ” ‘Not dreaming. Admiring, if you wish!’ I answered sharply.
      ‘Certainly, certainly! By rights, my good friend, you should not be a mathematician; you ought to be a poet! Yes! Really, why not transfer to us poets, eh? How would you like that? I can arrange it in a moment, eh?’ “(We 40)

      I think this quote is a bit of foreshadowing. R-13 jokes around with D-503, but to me it seems like he even notices something is different in D-503’s behavior.

    • I agree with both of you, i also noticed this change. D-503 starts very formal and direct such as “I shall” (We 1) and now the journal is very personal, a place where he express emotions and its more internal and conflicted. This change was of his feelings and actions with I-333, she caused him to change and basically conflicted him and this was expressed through his entries “If only I could know: Who am I, what am i like?” (We 64)

    • I agree with Bryan that was actually what i wrote, when we were asked the same question on the quiz. After D-503 and I-330 met, his diaries changed into more personal. In the beginning all his entries were pretty much explaining everything how they live and everything that goes on at One State.

  3. The first few entries were a snooze nothing interesting at all, but as soon as he meets I-330 the story becomes more captivating.” she irritates and repels me, she almost frightens me. But this is exactly why I said ‘yes’.” (Zamayatin pg 25). This is where the story gets exciting and his inner conflicts start to begin.

    • I agree 100% Its like she changed everything about him. I wasn’t expecting him to change at all. To me she awakened someone in him, something that he was hiding.

  4. (Pg83) “and every step increased my hopelessness: I had no place here- I, the criminal,the poisoned one.” D-503 Seems to be upset about something that causes him to feel out of place in this society to the point that he thinks he should leave since he no longer fits in….why now and not before?

  5. “Yesterday was to me like the paper through which chemists filter their solutions: all suspended particles, all that is superfluous remains on this paper. And this morning I went downstairs freshly distilled, transparent.”(Page 50)

    This part shows the relationship between reality and fiction that D-503 is alluding to and this works because he refers to the past and present.

  6. Throughout the book D-503 certainly becomes more personal in his diary entries. He goes from topics such as A Proclamation to My Shaggy Self. Which is definitely an indicator that as he began telling his story about the One State his own stories began developing within. One of the lines that specifically caught my attention was the one where D503 says “I had firm faith in myself; I had believed that I knew everything. And now..” (Zamyatin 59). He continues and explains he’s unfamiliar with the person he sees in the mirror. Which is definitely different from what the entries started out as. He now goes into more opinionated entries about the values of the One State and about the person he is.

  7. page 86 “And possibly, just at this very moment, exactly at twenty-two, as I am writing this, she stands with closed eyes, leaning against someone with her shoulder, saying to someone, “Do you love me”. D-503 has gone from explaining everything that happens or doesn’t happen in One State to explaining his feelings and thoughts for I-330 which are more personal.

  8. Well in my opinion, I think that D-503 starts off with knowing what he thinks will make others happy. It seem that he became encapsulated with his work. And that it has taking over his mind. He started off by telling his story in a personal point of view of how his hard work is going to pay off if everyone just take the time out to believe in his creation, but once he meet I-330 who seem to already had a taste of what it is like to feel for one another, and to know what it’s like to know the truth about what can , and what will happen tomorrow. She tries to pull him in by opening his eyes to things that he has not experienced. Now that he has a idea of the way things should be, he now second guesses everything that he has come to believe and know. Now when he writes in his journal, he’s not only expressing his thoughts but now he pulls his point of views from a more personal disposition. Due to all the event that has happen his mind is starting to play tricks on him with all the things He has come to face In the reading

  9. Good thoughts here folks, but many of these comments don’t fully address the prompt, which is to provide a comment (two comments actually, one for each section we have read so far) that: 1) offers a brief quote that *specifically* relates to D-503’s writing/revising/thinking-through-writing & 2) provide analysis about how/why that excerpt is significant.

    It’s wonderful to reply to one another and offer validation (“I agree with your point”), but you still need to offer your own excerpt/analysis for each section. This discussion is helpful for practicing choosing textual evidence and using it to support larger claims (what is required of you in the body paragraphs of your argumentative, thesis-driven essays).

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