We, a dystopian novel written by Yevgeny Zamyatin in the 1920s, explores the trials and tribulations of a cipher, named D-503. D-503 tells the story through journal entries (known as ‘records’), which he intends to have sent up on the Integral, a spaceship being built and scheduled to launch in the near future.
Schedules appear to dominate the ciphers: they are assigned times to walk, have sex, appear in auditoriums. It seems that nothing is done without the instruction of a higher power. D-503 is engaged in a sexual relationship with 0-90, a female cipher.
At the beginning of the novel, O-90 appears to follow every rule required of her by the One State. She engages in sexual activity only when permitted and presents herself as a law abiding citizen. As the story unfolds, however, it becomes evident that O-90 struggles to squash her maternal extinct. After becoming pregnant, O-90 must come to terms with the idea that her baby must be given to the State to be raised once it’s born.
It seems strange that the One State would tear mother and child apart, or even that a mother would feel fully conscionable in giving up her newborn. O-90, herself, struggles with this reality, ultimately deciding to flee the One State and live beyond the Green Wall.
O-90, however, is just one woman with one baby. How did the One State convince women to give up their children? Was the indoctrination so deep that these women believed it to be acceptable? Did they perhaps just see it as the only option in a world so completely transparent?