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 revolution. As the letter in her name hints, I-330 stands for individuality, infinity, and irrationality: individuality in protest against the...
(The entire section is 820 words.)