Sunday, March 18, 2007

Zamyatin’s Use of Colors in We (Annotation G1-6/Goddard)

In the Record 1 (First chapter) D-503, the narrator and the builder of the INTEGRAL explains the future when the space craft will leave Earth for a greater cause: “…to place the beneficial yoke of reason round the necks of the unknown beings who inhabit other planets – still living, it may be, in the primitive state known as happiness.” (Zamyatin 3) This understanding of D-503’s world, no individuality, no humanity, no color and no shadows, D-503 has a white washed world to see everyday. He has never known anything different and he is the one tell the story. As he discovers colors, and tells them to his readers the colors an impact which is describable more than just the adjective itself. The use of color in WE, although a mere words, gives more image than explanation in total. In a city without color, all representations of color have specific emotional meaning.
“I can’t imagine a city that isn’t girdled about with a Green Wall.” (Zamyatin 12). This city which is steel and glass is surrounded by a “Green Wall’ which separates the life of it’s denizens from the natural world. “From beyond the Green Wall, from the wild plains out of sight in the distance, the wind is carrying the honeyed yellowed pollen of some flower.” (Zamyatin 5) The difficulties of this conception for D-503 are simply he has never seen the other side of the wall, nor has he seen a flower, nor anything organic. “And then what a sky! Blue, unsullied by a single cloud… I love – and I am sure that I am right in saying we love – only such a sky as this one today: sterile and immaculate.” (Zamyatin 5)
“They give you a careful going – over in the Sexual Bureau labs and determine the exact content of your sexual hormones in your blood and work out your correct Table of Sex Days. Then you fill out a declaration that on your days you’d like to make use of Number (or Numbers) so – and – so and they hand you the corresponding book of tickets (pink). And that’s it.” (Zamyatin 22) D-503 while waiting the demonstration day of the INTERAL D-503 has pink ticket time first with O-90 and later with I-330. While O-90 is a soft woman whom he’s had longer relations, I-330 holds his imagination. I-330 creates the change in D-503: “on the corner in the white fog. Blood. Cut with a sharp knife. It was her lips.” (Zamyatin 70) She has come through the white world of OneState and she has both delivered and condemned D-503. “The two of us walked along as one. Somewhere a long ways off through the fog you could hear the sun singing, everything was supple, pearly, golden, pink, red. The whole world was one immense woman and we were in her very womb, we hadn’t yet been born, we were joyously ripening.” (Zamyatin 71)
Perplexing scientific changes, alarming growth in technology and new political ideologies are the priming of the pump for new fears, new sensibilities, and grim outlooks on life. Zamyatin, a Russian, lived through the brunt of it. In his society that shuns individuality, creativity and imagination are dangerous to the state. Zamyatin uses color to spark imagination in D-503, and later in others who still have soul. For the rest of Numbers soul and dreams are considered illness. Conceptually speaking anything outside of a white washed world, a sterile sky and white yunnies how can colors not spark imagination?

Zamyatin, Yevgeny. We. New York: Penguin Books, 1993

No comments:

Post a Comment