XX century – is the hard and exhaustive century both for Russia and for the world as a whole
It is the time of totalitarian idea of prosperity, brutal dictatorship and suppression of individuality. In the 20th century, during the era of cruel experiments on the implementation of utopian projects, new literary direction, known as dystopia, appears. The novel We, written by Eugene Zamiatin, is the first work to express the dystopia features. The author’s novel shows us a possible version of the future that is the kind of warning. History events have shown that the things the writer worried about were not in vain. People experienced horrible times: Stalinism and repression. The world of One State is without love, without personality and soul. People’s names are replaced by «numbers» as if they are machines or robots. They are completely subordinated to the interests of the state. People are under the constant surveillance by the Bureau of Guardians, and Green Wall separates the state from the rest of the world.
In spite of such a serious topic that is described by the author, the female characters, especially, I-330 and O-90, play an essential role in the novel, being even more stable than men with tough characters. They confront the State being completely different in psychology, appearance and life aims.
At the beginning of the novel, O-90 is ‘regular’ sexual partner of the protagonist. Her appearance is associated with a name, “Dear O! – She always seems to me like her name. She is approximately ten centimeters shorter than the required Maternal Norm. Therefore she appears round all over; the rose-colored of her lips is open to meet every word of mine. She has a round soft dimple on her wrist. Children have such dimples” (Zamyatin, Yevgeny. We.,p. 6). The dominant character of the heroine is emphasized from the very beginning of the novel: she is at the mercy of maternal instinct and is willing to have a baby, but it is not allowed by the laws of One State, as she is smaller than the Maternal Norm required for having a child. As for her name, it is selected on the basis of the graphic: the bearer of this name is calm and round. Her favorite color is pink – the color of femininity, motherhood and childishness. The character of heroine gets special harmony while waiting for the child, as she asked for D-503 so long, “she seemed strangely and perfectly rounded. Her arms and breast, her whole body, so familiar to me was rounded out, stretching her uniform. It seemed as though it would soon tear the thin cloth and come out into the sun, into the light. I think that there in the green debris, in springtime, the unseen spouts try thus to tear their way through the ground in order to send forth their branches and leaves and to bloom” (Zamyatin, Yevgeny. We., p. 158). O-90 goes beyond the Green Wall, to the natural world. Her future is full of uncertainties, as far as this world does not promise the cloudless happiness. In spite of this fact, the author and readers hope for her child – the future of mankind. In this sense, the novel has an open end – glorification of the Eternal Feminine. The very fact that O-90 decided to become a mother is a possible key to saving of mankind.
I-330 is utterly different from O-90 in both character and appearance, “slender, abrupt, resistantly flexible like a whip” (Zamyatin, Yevgeny. We., p.8). Latin ‘I’ represents her elegance, sharpness, strong and stable character that is emphasized by her “white, very white, sharp teeth”. At the same time, the vowel [i] sounds like a woman, softy and gently as if neutralizing sharpness of the graphical letter ‘I’. In the novel, the heroine is a heretic, rebel and revolutionist. She found herself among the conspirators, whose purpose is capturing the spacecraft ‘Integral’. I-330 makes D-503 an unscrupulous cog in the state machine. This personality represents the challenge to One State – the established order, standard, unified world. Her fantasies are taken for the self-will, an intention to demonstrate an awareness of personal principles. D-503 gets new feelings: the ability to love, to think and to doubt, being awakened by I-330. Her clothes play an integral role in the novel. That is what she wore when first met D-503, “she was dressed in a short, bright-yellowish dress, black hat, black stockings. The dress was of light silk. I saw clearly very long black stockings above the knees, an uncovered neck and the shadow between…” (Zamyatin, Yevgeny. We., p. 28). The black and yellow color combination is classical symbol of anxiety, drama of the situation and the need of change. I-330 is more than a revolutionist. She is appointed to save the mankind and renew the spirit of humanity.
Except for describing the totalitarian system as a disaster for mankind, Yevgeny Zamiatin gives a hope for survival and better future. I-330 symbolizes challenge and confrontation with the totalitarian system. She is represented as a strong personality who is appointed to fight. In the long run, the human being depends on 0-90. She is a hope for the new life. They cannot do without each other. Together they represent power that has to gain the victory above Stalinism. At the same time, these two personalities are special, tender, dissimilar, unique and memorable.