Brave New World vs. We

After this weeks reading, I am seeing many similarities between Yevgeny Zamyatin’s We and Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World. The first similarity I noticed was how, both societies, One State and the World State were both organized with rules that should be followed.  Another thing that is similar is that in One State, when you want to do something that is not formally allowed, you get a pink slip, something that asks permission to do something. This reminded me of the World State because, everything was controlled and there weren’t many things the people could do besides being promiscuous and participating in orgies. Each society also values something, in the World State soma is valued and in One State math plays a major role in society and in D-503’s life. I see that they are similar in these ways.

My first impression of D-503 was that he is an outsider. He has negative feelings on participating in society. “and through the glass walls of my algebraic world, again that eyelash- something unpleasant that I must do today” (pg 34) This shows that D-503 doesn’t really want to be apart of whatever is going on. Another way that shows D-503 is different is that  “I hid behind my newspaper- it seemed to me that everyone was staring at me” (pg 35) Everyday he writes in his diary, which is what We is based off of. He meets I-330 and he follows her around and she even gets him to miss work. I think that I-330 is going to be a bad influence on D-503. So far I’m not really seeing any problems with D-503. Just that he dislikes doing anything other than math.

We are also introduced to I-330. First off, I thought that I-330 is going to be an important character because of how she acts. She can be seen as the rebel so far. She doesn’t follow all the rules she’s supposed to. She smokes and drinks alcohol which is not allowed in One State. I-330 is also very sneaky. I-330 says to D-503 “to be original is to be in some way distinct from others. Hence, to be original is to violate equality” (pg 28) This shows that I-330 doesn’t really care about the rules of One State and that she is just going to do whatever she wants.

I am confused on what these “names” or codes mean. I-330 ? O-90 ? D-503? R-13 ? I know that they are names, of characters in We but what do they stand for?

Another question I have is, what’s D-503’s deal with radical negative one? “This irrational number had grown into me like something foreign, alien, terrifying. It devoured me- it was impossible to conceive, to render harmless, because it was outside ratio” (pg 39) I think D-503 dislikes this number maybe because since its an irrational number, it keeps going on and on and its not a normal number. It’s also “unsettled” so this made me think that D-503 likes having everything set the way he feels comfortable with and that he doesn’t like knowing there’s the unknown that exists. Or maybe he dislikes this because its a math equation that he can’t figure out?


Reading the story “We” starts off with the main character D-503 who writes all the entries about his life in this book. He seems to want to be friends/ close with any individual who happens to get the opportunity to read this book since he feels that he can’t get anyone else to understand how he feels at the moment. 

“Long live the one state ,long live the numbers…”(pg 2) seems to be the same mentality as the World state in “Brave New World” based off of reading this story so far both societies seem very similar. “As always, the music plant played the March of the One State”(pg 5) is like a brain washing song for the citizens played as a daily routine. I also notice that the citizens don’t have names, instead they have numbers and have a titled position for example D-503 he is the Mathematician of the One State. Another similarity I have come across was that the citizens are scheduled for sexual days based on the individuals needs.

D-503 hasn’t experienced life outside the green walls that he could not “imagine life that isn’t regulated by the figures of our tables”. His Mathematician role makes him think like a machine which can ultimately overload the individual causing issues later on in the book. (Pg11)

D-503 talks to the reader as if he is actually right next to you in person which I find interesting since he tries to make a joke then say it isn’t a joke it’s all a lie if it was a joke on (pg14) ……this shows me that already this character is in a conflict with himself and the society he lives in, since he might be losing his mind slowly in my opinion. 

“The savage, at least had more courage and energy and logic, if only primitive logic” (pg 16) I think D-503 wishes he had the courage to step out of line to explore something new although he has the brains to get started he rather not. This upsets him causing him to make some sarcastic remarks. He feels that it’s nothing but empty thoughts left since he is assigned to his section and there isn’t anything he can do about the situation, which brings him to express his feelings to the outside reader. 

“You are carefully examined in the laboratories of the sexual department….” every citizens gets coupons based on their needs (pg 22) does this act as a drug that they can receive on certain days? I find it weird that they have to use a coupon book don’t they have advance technology? 

“Liberation? Amazing, the extent to which criminal instinct persist in human nature…” this society makes the people believe that freedom isn’t good for anyone since without it there wouldn’t be any crime done. Why would the people think this theory is correct when taking away everyone’s freedom can also be considered a crime from human rights then?

although D-503 is the mathematician why does radical negative one upset him so much? He acts as if it is the end of the world since it is a irrational number… It has to be a better explanation for his anger towards this particular irrational number.

Ancient House – I-330 the rebel

The first encounter of I-330 and D-503 at the “Ancient House” was very strange. It was the first time they officially met and spoke. The way this place was described reminded me of the savage reservation in “A Brave New World”. “I opened a heavy, creaking, opaque door, and we stepped into a gloomy, disorderly place (they called it an “apartment”). The same strange “royal” musical instrument—and again the wild, disorganized, mad music, like the other time—a jumble of colors and forms. A white flat area above; dark blue walls; red, green, and orange bindings of ancient books; yellow bronze—chandeliers, a statue of Buddha; furniture built along lines convulsed in epilepsy, incapable of being fitted into an equation.” (26). D-503 describes this “apartment” like an alien world, in the one state they are so used to things being so mathematically correct and unformed that an natural place like this was quite confusing for him. Everything that seems normal to us the reader seemed very wrong and unnatural to D-503. Colors, music, and even furniture were out of the norm and “incapable of being fitted into an equation”. Another example I found was when he describes a little of the children’s room “We crossed a room with small children’s beds (the children at that time were also private property) . Then more rooms, glimmering mirrors, somber wardrobes, intolerably gaudy sofas, a huge “fireplace,” a large mahogany bed. Our modern- beautiful, transparent, eternal—glass was there only in the pathetic, fragile little window squares.”(27) In this excerpt we see how D-503 mocks the only piece of glass in the house by calling them “fragile little window squares”. From this we get a slight hint of how he feels towards the “ancient” world compared to his “modern, beautiful, transparent, and eternal” world.

We then begin to see a dialogue between the two which somewhat confusing to me, as well as D-503 himself. He has mixed feelings about I-330 and describes them as such. We find this in “This, of course was natural: I saw myself reflected in her eyes. But what I was feeling was unnatural and unlike me (it must have been the opressive effect of the surroundings). I felt definitely frightened. I felt trapped, imprisoned in that primitive cage, caught by the savage whirlwind of the ancient life.” where he describes a strange feeling towards I-330 but then quickly blames it on being overwhelmed by the ancient house surroundings. This feeling I believe will only get stronger and hopefully a little more clearer so that we the readers can better understand why he acts this way towards I-330.

“Clearly,” she interrupted me, “to be original is to be in some way distinct from others. Hence, to be original is to violate equality. And that which in the language of the ancients was called ‘being banal’ is with us merely the fulfillment of our duty. Because …” […] “Don’t you find it astonishing that once upon a time people tolerated such characters? And not only tolerated, but worshiped them? What a slavish spirit! Don’t you think?” (28,29) With this we begin to see a little more of the way I-330 thinks. She seems to have an appreciation for the ancient times and ways of life compared to the modern day that they live in. We also note that she is a bit of a rebel, some evidence of tis is shown when she tells D-503 “And if I asked you to remain here with me?” “Look, do you … do you know what you are saying? In ten minutes I must be in the auditorium […] “I know a doctor at the Medical Office, he is registered with me. If I ask him, he will give you a certificate that you were sick. Well?” (29) Everyone knows that everyone must attend this meeting yet she wants to arrange for D-503 to stay at the ancient house with her? Also can make a call to a doctor for an excuse. These are definitely things not allowed in the One State, I-330 seems to be the rebel in the story.

Math VS Normality

In the One State everything is logical, number related. Any problems the One State has can be solved mathematically. D-503 is a mathematician so I guess its only right that the story is told in his eyes.  It probably would have been better off told by someone else because it wouldn’t be biased but after all it is being told based on his thoughts.

“Naturally, having conquered Hunger” (21), I wonder why the ‘h’ in hunger is capitalized. While reading it was said that they no longer have to worry about hunger because mathematically they can produce enough food for everyone in the One State. “Each number has a right to any other number, as to sexual commodity (21), this reminded me of Brave New World, when they say “Everyone belongs to every one else.” The only difference between these two worlds was that in the One State you need to get permission, which are the pink slips, whereas, in the World State you don’t need permission.

In We, I don’t think it said whether the people in the One State are made or born. What I do find strange is that people in the World State were made and yet they still had an identity because they had names. One would assume being made like most things in the world have numbers attached to them for identification. Another question I had while reading is what the letter before the number stands for, like D-503 and I-330. I’m thinking maybe a ranking or job related, because D-503 and I-330 have different jobs in the One State.

“To be original is to be in some way distinct from others. Hence, to be original is to violate equality” (28).  I-330 said this quote, but yet I feel as though she doesn’t believe in this herself. She seems important to the One State because of the strings she’s able to pull. She was able to get D-503 to be at the auditorium, she was able to get him a doctor’s note for not showing up to work, and she seems to know all the right people. For some odd reason, D-503 knows all of this is wrong but he would not tell anyone what is going on. He felt different because of her, I think he felt more alive then ever before; more excited and intrigued then any math problem. He might have felt this way because he has never experienced anything like this before, although I do think his friend R-13 has experienced what it was like to be with I-330. I believe R-13 knows what his friend is going through because he knew he felt “ill” or was troubled by something, and D-503 hinted what it was and R-13 identified with it immediately.

What I want to know is why certain people are helping I-330 with all of this. The doctor for giving them the doctor’s note, the old lady that sits in the sun, why did she let them go into the house, and ‘S’ guy. When ‘S’ tells D-503 that he has an incurable case of ‘soul’, I wonder if the doctor has told this same thing to R-13. ‘S’ said “I’ll tell you in confidence- you are not the only one […] Try to remember-haven’t you noticed anything like it, very much like it, very similar in anyone else?” (91). To me the doctor could be talking about I- 330 or R-13 but why would he tell D-503 without telling him who. As if he didn’t already have enough to worry and think about with all these changes.


Reminder: Essay #1and Midterm Exam tomorrow (Th 3/27)

Hello from my utopia conference in London!

Just a few quick reminders:

  • Tomorrow, Thursday, 3/27, is your midterm exam. You will not be able to use any notes or texts (either the short stories or novel) for the exam, so no need to bring them with you. As we discussed, to prepare for the exam you should review our class notes on utopia (as a genre), the elements of fiction, the short stories we read (“The Story of an Hour,” “The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas,” “The Day Before the Revolution,” and “The Machine Stops”), and Brave New World. I also suggest reading through all of your/your classmates’ blog posts as well as our class discussions (the “comments”) on the short stories, reviewing the Utopian/Dystopian Framework, and looking over your freewriting (which has been available for the past week in my mailbox, N512).
  • Essay #1 is due at the beginning of class tomorrow. Make sure you review the assignment and the formatting/submission guidelines before you submit it (and don’t forget about the Cover Letter … I will not accept essays without it). Include a Work Cited page. Make sure that you e-mail me a correctly labeled Word file (just one file, with the Cover Letter as the first page … not two separate files) before class begins (anything after 8:30am is considered late and will receive no credit), and bring a printed/stapled copy to class (Professor Corbett, who is subbing for me, will collect these essays at the class).
  • We are moving forward with We next week (Entries 1-16, pp. 1-91), and you have a reading response blog due Monday night in preparation for next Thursday’s class (4/3).

Good luck finishing up your essays and taking your exam! See you all next week 🙂

Professor Belli