The Anthem By:Ayn Rand Essay

1472 words - 6 pages

In Ayn Rand’s, “Anthem”, Equality 7-2521, is a man living in the dark ages of the future. As stated on the back cover of Rand‘s book, Equality 7-2521 lived “in an age that had lost all trace of science and civilization.” Equality 7-2521 dared to go places like no other man of his time. He had the courage to think, seek, and love, which was forbidden in the collectivist society in which he lived. As explained in the introduction, “He came close to losing his life because his knowledge was regarded as a treacherous blasphemy” (Rand). The world, Equality 7-2521 lived in was as one; a great “WE.” But he knew that he was not a “we”, he knew he was something bigger and better. It was not until the end of the story when Equality 7-2521 found the last and holy word in a manuscript from the Unmentionable Times (which is supposedly our present day), “I.” The one word that changed his whole life. The one word that changed his perspective on all mankind. The one word that gave Equality 7-2521 an “ego.”“The story of ‘Anthem’ takes place in some unspecified future time and place in which freedom and individual rights have been obliterated” (Bernstein). In “Anthem”, collectivism has overtaken individualism, which is one of the main themes in this story. Collectivism, which is, “the political philosophy holding that an individual exists solely to serve the state, is dominant and has led to the establishment of a global dictatorship of the Fascist or Communist variety” (Bernstein). As a reader begins to read “Anthem”, they realize the absence of the word “I.” “The characters refer to themselves using the first person plural ‘we’ and not the first person singular ‘I’” (Bernstein). The use of the plural rather than the use of the singular, goes to the center of the story’s meaning. The collectivist society Equality 7-2521 lives in, has banned the word “I” from all vocabulary. People are not to speak or even think this word. This collectivism makes a single individual not have a life of their own. But yet, they are a “fragment of a group whose sole purpose is to serve its needs” (Bernstein). Over the centuries of this collectivist society, theword “I” has vanished from everyone’s vocabulary. Only a mere memory exists in Equality 7-2521’s mind that there is an unspeakable word. Everyone in the community has tothink of themselves as “nameless, faceless, individuality-less chunks of an amorphous mass” (Bernstein).But one person found and used the unspeakable word “I.” The Saint of the Pyre was his name, and he was condemned to death at the use of the word. Even though The Saint of the Pyre only appears in one of Equality 7-2521’s flashbacks, he is an important person in the story. Equality 7-2521 recalls him as having the...

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