Anthem by Ayn Rand One of the many things readers notice as they begenan reading Anthem by Ayn Rand is the lack of the word “l”. Anthem is a masterpiece that portrays what collectivism truly is through the eyes of a young man: Equality 7-2521. In the story the characters are given numbers rather than names to make them equal as a whole. Everything is done to make sure that the people are all alike and not unique. As the story goes Equality finds a tunnel and starts writing a diary there. He soon discovers that he prefers the solitude that he gets there and solitude is something that is not allowed by the council.
This is because they fear time along gives you time to think. In a collectivist society people are all to think the same and most importantly they do not question what is set for them like the rules and regulations. Equality however is very curious and soon realizes that he prefers some humans above others which is also something that is not allowed. In his diary he notes how even at a young age he has noticed that he is very different from the other boys and how he is “smarter” and taller and more curious and questioning about how everything works.
He soon reaches an age when the people are assigned jobs for the rest of their lives. He wishes nothing more than to be in the house of the counsels because then he can question everything and study the world but unfortunately fate has other plans for him and he gets assigned to be a street sweeper instead of a scholar. He was still happy nevertheless because it was as if he were atoning for his crimes. He still goes to his tunnel and soon discovers electricity. When he finds a light bulb he is curious as to what it is.
Through experiments he learns what electricity is and decides to bring the light bulb to he scholars as a gift. Unfortunately he returns late one night to his home and is questioned by the home council. He refuses to tell anyone where he was because he wants to be the one to tell the scholars of his discoveries. He is then tortured but he still refuses to tell anyone of anything. Finally he meets the world council and is able to tell them his story. Sadly the scholars are terrified of him and his “crazy” ideas about replacing candles with lightbulbs so they shun and reject him. He doesn’t want his perocious invention to be destroyed so he runs away with his light bulb and flees the city.
Later on he meets the golden one a pheasant he had earlier met and together they live far away from society in the mountains in an abandoned house. There she soon gives birth to a new generation of individuals who value individualism (aka egoism) and vows to put an end to collectivism. Where Anthem by Ayn Rand takes place is uncertain and cannot be pinpointed exactly. However Anthem is a dystopian novel because it is an reality that could exist and it takes place in an age when scientific knowledge and technology is not accepted.
Technology exists but is not accepted because Equality finds a lightbulb signifying the existence, but technology is not allowed to be used to help express collectivism. The lack of technological advancement allows the people to all be the same and it helps refrain the people from becoming unique and different. Without technology the people cannot think and hence cannot rebell against the system. Anthem is written in first person point of view to help the story, if it were not, then the storyline would just weaken. First person helps us understand what Equality is all about. Equality never says I or you but instead we and they.
This express how strong the collectivism was in his everyday life. It is not until the very end when he stumbles upon a book, in his new house in the mountains, with the word “l”. He then truly realises what it is like to be an individual. The title that Ayn Rand cose is very unique and she did this for a reason. Anthem is usually a poem or a song that phrases something like the “National anthem”. The book Anthem literally phrases individualism and teaches readers why collectivism is “evil” and “wrong”. Even Ayn Rand classifies Anthem as a poem and she also says that the last two chapters builds up the book.
The last two chapters magnify what ego or individualism is. In short Anthem is a book phrasing individualism. There are several recurring themes in Anthem the most important one is the importance of identity (aka individualism, aka ego). The whole book is Equality’s journey to become an individual. In doing so he is shunned by society and develops a new name every time he becomes a step closer. At first he is Equality 7-2521, this is the name he is given. “We are nothing. Mankind is all. By the grace of our brothers are we allowed our lives. We exist through, by and for our brothers who are the State.
In chapter one paragraph 15 he says this to show where he stands. Here he believes that collectivism is all and does not know of anything beside this. Then he is given the name the unconquered. He is given this name by the golden one because she admired how society has not been able to “conquer” his soul. Despite all the rules he has still found a loophole and is able to be different which she admires. He in return gives her the name as we know of her to be, the Golden one. “But it is a sin to give men names which distinguish them from other men. Yet we call them the Golden One, for they are not like the others.
The Golden One are not like the others” (Chapter 2, paragraph 12). Finally at the end The golden one names him Prometheu a name she finds in a book. He is prometheus because just like original prometheus he brings something to help mankind. Prometheus brought fire to the original humans while he brings electricity. This story overall is very good and I would no doubt recommend it to someone else. This is largely because of its believability. I am just amaged. Because Anthem is a Dystopian novel this could happen in real life. Anthem allows me to experience a different world where it is forbidden to be an individual.
It teaches me just how lucky I am am to be a individual and the rights I have because of my individuality. If I lived in a place where collectivism existed and technology was not accepted then I would stand out. Because I as an human being, I am naturally unique and I would find it very hard to change my ways to be similar to someone else. I would recommend this book to someone who enjoys dystopian novels because even though this book is dystopian, I believe this book is slightly different and has its own uniqueness because it has its concept of individualism.
This book Anthem is the first out of three books by Ayn addressing individualism. She succeeds in addressing individualism because of her first person point of view tactic. At first Equality’s name shows how he accepts collectivism but then it changes as he changes, He becomes the unconquered as his mind change. He soon starts to accept that individualism is real. He realises that he prefers some people above others and becomes the Unconquered because he is able to be an individual despite living in a collective society. Finally as he completely breaks away from society he is Prometheus.
Prometheus because like the original Prometheus he brings something useful to the new generation. He instead of fire, brings the concept of individualism. Showing the changing of the main character’s name symbolism individualism and how the main character breaks away society. Ayn Rand perfectly portrays individualism in Anthem using this technique. For as long as I live I know i’ll definitely be thankful for the life live in. A wonderful blessed life where I have the choice to where I work, what I study, who I love, what I think, what I want. A life where I matter.
It saddens me Equality’s situation a place where he has no life basically but even though he has no opinion he still has a “life” but this is where I wonder both him and I still have a life but which is more valuable? A price cannot be put onto a life but is individualism better or collectivism? Collectivism doesn’t allow humans to be different but with collectivism everyone is equal so not one person is too powerful or too poor. At the end of the day everybody gets to eat because it is an equal world. This is helpful because if someone is hurt and cannot work then they can still eat.
Individualism however allows everyone to be unique and chose for themselves. Individualism allows people to chose their own jobs so they wouldn’t be stuck doing what they don’t like or believe in. But then again if a person were to fall ill then they would still be responsible for finding food because if you don’t work then you don’t get to eat in a society like that. And in collectivism people can misuse the system but not working and still getting a share to eat. Ayn grew up in Russia during the Bolshevik (bolsH? vik) Revolution.
There when the Bolsheviks were in charge her family lost all of its property and fell into poverty. In the new system, the Bolsheviks claimed to address the needs the country as a whole rather than an individual but failed miserably because greedy leaders overpowered and manipulated the system. Ayn strongly despised the collective system because of her past and this is probably how she thought of individualism and came to write of it. Today it is better known as objectivism and all credit goes to her for the philosophy of it. She has also written Atlas shrugged and she wrote Fountainhead the same time she wrote Anthem.