Tuesday, July 25, 2006

preoccupations and rhetorical communication

Zamyatin gives the character D-503 something to obsess about, and that is Mathematics. By giving him something that he is passionate about, Zamyatin is able to communicate the idea that the One State is not a place that people hate. As much as we, as readers, can look at it and see that it is less than ideal, the people who are actually living in it don't feel the same way. D-503 is quite happy with his life and his job, and he has everything that he wants (for the most part). On page 66-7, D-503 says, "The multiplication table is wiser and more absolute than the ancient God: it never- do you realize the full meaning of the word? - it never errs. And there are no happier figures than those which live according to the harmonious, eternal laws of the multiplication table. No hesitations, no delusions. There is only one truth, and only one true way; this truth is two times two, and the true way - four." D-503 says that math never errs. Maybe this is why he likes it so much. Things can go wrong (though, not often in the one state), but if he's having a hard time with something he can just turn to the multiplication table and he can always count on it being the same. Perhaps this is comforting to him to have that to fall back on. Or maybe he just likes math, and that's it.
As far as Zamyatin's communication to the audience being rhetorical....I am inclined to bring up our old friend Aristotle and his concept of Pathos. Reading D-503's struggles (what with I-330 working him over with her wily ways), you get a sense of sympathy for him. Obviously that is an "appeal to those states of mind that have an emotional component" (EP, 8).

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