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The Secret Of “I” Essay

1201 words - 5 pages

“A man’s ego is the fountainhead of human progress.” These words, spoken by Ayn Rand herself, showcase a theme that has led to the development of mankind since the dawn of time. In Rand’s novelette Anthem the character Equality lives in a collectivistic society which works to suppress any sense of individuality. Equality is not like the other inhabitants of the society. One day, he happens upon a connection to the Unmentionable Times, and he slakes his curiosity with various studies, nurturing his idiosyncrasies and leading to an outcome that is only dangerous for him and his community. The society squashes the people, who fear the self-determination involved with secrets, but Equality ...view middle of the document...

Still, Equality tries to find answers, despite the fact that any learning other than what is taught in the Home of the Students is forbidden by the Society. Other students never yearn for learning, and although others want to find it, they do not attempt to. They will never get a chance to be exposed to the wonders of the world, but since Equality chases after knowledge, knowledge is what he will get. Therefore, unless one puts passionate effort into finding something, he will never accomplish what he sets out to do.
Furthermore, when Equality shows his invention to the World Council of Scholars, he wants to use it to improve the community and gain access to further research. Simultaneously, however, Rand had symbolism in mind whilst creating this scene. While reveling in his invention, Equality declares, “Our discovery is too great for us to waste our time in sweeping the streets. We must not keep our secret to ourselves…We must bring it into the sight of all men” (60). Because of his work, Equality experiences the pride of working alone and notices the strength and capability of his own hands. Moreover, it is clear that Equality wants to contribute his wisdom and findings to the society and help improve it, although nothing done by an individual has been accepted before, as exemplified by what Solidarity 8-1164 says during the Council meeting. He asserts, “‘Many men in the Homes of the Scholars have had strange new ideas in the past,’ said Solidarity 8-1164, ‘but when the majority of their brother Scholars voted against them, they abandoned their ideas, as all men must’” (73). Eventually, Equality labels the Council as “thrice-damned fools” when they reject his idea that has the potential to revolutionize the quality of life everywhere - collectivism in the world of Anthem runs deep. The glass box could open doors for more breakthroughs, but the Council strives to crush any sense of rebellious individuality. Quintessentially, the invention may also be a symbol of distinction, or intellect. It could symbolize change or the result of the fruits of one’s own labor, done for one's own reasons. The presentation of the glass box is not only a physical display of Equality’s invention, but clearly also a symbol of his defiance of the society’s structure.
Indubitably, the overall theme of Rand’s novelette paints a picture of objectivism, and Equality’s every action propels him towards understanding the truth about what it truly means to be a...

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