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Last Updated on June 19, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 329

Most of the characters in We are represented by a number, and, in fact, the narrator and main character, D-503, often describes the population in general as the Numbers. The male characters, such as the narrator, R.13 (the poet laureate of the One State), and S-4711 (a secret police agent) are represented by odd numbers, while the female characters—such as the narrator's love interests, I-330 and O-90—are represented by even numbers. All numbers are printed on the light blue "unif" (uniform) that everybody wears.

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The Numbers, hundreds, thousands of Numbers in light blue unifs with gold badges on the chest—the state number of each one, male or female—the Numbers were walking slowly, four abreast, exaltedly keeping step.

At the beginning, the narrator states that everyone else is more or less the same and that “faces are unclouded by the insanity of thoughts.” However, as the novel progresses, the narrator begins to notice that people are more individual than he first thought.

It starts when he meets I-330 at a parade. He says that

Little horns appeared at the corner of her brows.

And, he says,

The woman had a disagreeable effect upon me, like an irrational component of an equation which you cannot eliminate.

She turns out to be a revolutionary leader who needs D-503's help to take down the One State and its leader, the “Big Brother” figure of the Benefactor (o.r in some translations. the Well-Doer):

On top of the Cube, next to the machine, the motionless, metallic figure of him whom we call the Well-Doer. One could not see his face from below. All one could see was that it was bounded by austere, magnificent square lines. And his hands . . . compel your attention. . . . Suddenly one of those hands rose slowly. A slow, cast-iron gesture.

Though in the end the state proves too strong, D-503 manages to help his lover 0-90 escape with his child to the side of the revolutionaries.

Characters Discussed

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Last Updated on May 5, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 820


D-503, the narrator and the protagonist, a mathematician and builder of the spaceship Integral. At first, D-503 is a faithful follower of the Benefactor, the leader of a futuristic society, the One State. D-503 blindly believes that the One State is a just society, that individual freedom is a burdensome remnant of the distant past, and that the numbers, the inhabitants of the One State, live and work best in a collective state of contentment rather than happiness. He is happy to contribute to the export of the One State’s ideas, by way of the Integral, to other planets. His metamorphosis begins when he meets, and falls in love with, a female number, I-330, who harbors dangerous ideas of individuality and personal freedom. He even promises to place the spaceship at her disposal in her efforts to topple the government of the One State. D-503 discovers, to his horror, that he has developed a soul (anathema in the materialistic, totally rational society of the One State); the hair growth on his hands is another indication of the suppressed, primitive side of his nature. He changes his mind at the last moment, after discovering that I-330 does not really love him but only wants to use him and the spaceship. D-503 is an ironic caricature of an intellectual and a scientist who unquestioningly serves a totalitarian ruler, believing that the ruler is right in creating a collective frame of mind and in basing everything on a rational basis, excluding all emotions and spiritual values. D-503’s wavering and an almost complete conversion, or a betrayal of reason, indicate the vulnerability of such convictions and the indestructibility of “the other half” of the human psyche, even after hundreds of years of brainwashing.


I-330, the woman with whom D-503 falls in love, a leader of...

(The entire section contains 1765 words.)

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