Parallel Narrators and Form

While reading “The Man from the Atom,” I couldn’t help but draw parallels between the narrator and D-503, the narrator of Zamyatin’s We. Though such parallels are drawn throughout the “The Man from the Atom,” they are especially so within the first two pages. For example, the narrator explains, “I, however, though I had not the slightest claim to scientific knowledge, was romantic to a high degree, and always willing to carry out his strange experiments for the sake of the adventure and the strangeness of it all” (62). On the next page, however, he states, “I am willing to take any risks… why, don’t you realize, Professor, that this will revolutionize science” (63). These statements are contradictory; the narrator tries to save face in front of the professor, acting as a scientific martyr to cover up his real motivation, self-interest. Such self-interest is also exemplified in the narrator’s statement, “But I must tell a tale-though there is no man left to understand it” (62). Not even he understands his tale, the telling of it regardless of audience, his means to understanding and/or catharsis. This is also the case for D-503 in Zamyatin’s We. Rather than record the grandeur of the OneState, which is what he claims that he is doing, he uses writing to understand what he cannot (his internal state) and express himself. Like the narrator in “The Man from the Atom,” he also realizes that those alien lifeforms that he is writing to on behalf of the OneState may not even be able to understand him, as stressed, “Maybe you unknown people who’ll get my notes when the INTEGRAL brings them-maybe you’ve read the great book of civilization only up to the page our ancestors wrote 900 years ago. Maybe you don’t even know the basics…,” magnifying such self-interest (11).

In terms of form, both works are broken up into sections. It seems as though We is sectioned because it is composed of records written by D-503. Whereas “The Man from the Atom” may be sectioned for the sake of the reader’s clarity in a large magazine (one event per section).

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