Themes and Meanings

(Literary Essentials: World Fiction)

The symbolic title “We” suggests the main theme of the novel: the struggle to preserve the individual “I” against the pressures to conform represented by the collective “We.” I-330 is the major character affirming individuality in the novel. She personifies the revolutionary principle of energy, which Zamyatin regards as a positive force, since it represents change. As I-330 ex-plains to D-503: “There are two forces in the world—entropy, which leads to happy equilibrium, and energy, which leads to destruction of equilibrium, to tormentingly endless movement.” In I-330’s view, the One State personifies entropic thought and must be destroyed. She regards revolution as inevitable, since there is no final revolution (just as there is no final number). Zamyatin develops similar ideas in his essay “O literature, revolyutsii, entropii i o prochem” (“On Literature, Revolution, Entropy, and Other Matters”), in which he affirms revolution as the major force for combating dogmatism. In Zamyatin’s view, “Dogmatization in science, religion, social life, or art is the entropy of thought,” which can be overcome only through heresy.

Zamyatin purposely casts I-330 in the role of a heretic who rebels against both the psychological entropy of the One State and the Christian religion of the ancients. Like the first rebel, Satan of Christian mythology, she revolts against authority. She refers to herself as anti-Christian; her sharp, pointed...

(The entire section is 434 words.)