Ayn Rand Life Summary:
Through her life, Ayn Rand experienced many events and was motivated to work hard and be a writer. Born in St. Petersburg, Russia on February 2, 1905, Rand learned to read at just age six and even decided to make fiction writing her career at just age nine. She viewed herself as a European writer. She supported the Kerensky Revolution and spoke against the Bolshevik Revolution as she witnessed both in high school. Her family moved to Crimea to get away from the fighting though the last Communist win brought times of hunger, and her father’s pharmacy was taken away. As she learned of American history, she quickly took America as a model of how a nation of free men could be. She returned back home and graduated from the University of Petrograd where she lived through the disintegration of free inquiry and the communists taking over the university. She enjoyed cinema and entered the State Institute for Cinema Arts in 1924 to learn about screenwriting. When given the right to visit the United States in 1925, she made a plan to never go back to Russia and she went off to become a screenwriter in Hollywood. Cecil B. DeMille met Rand by his studio and employed her first as an extra and later as a script reader. She additionally met actor Frank O’Connor at the studio and married him in 1929. Rand struggled for years at different jobs and her first book was rejected by multiple publishers, but she did not give up. Ayn Rand wrote “The Fountainhead” and when it was finally published in 1943, it made history as it was a best seller and brought fame to Rand. As she worked as a screenwriter for Hal Wallis Production, she started her major novel called “Atlas Shrugged” in 1946. Five years later she went back to New York and committed herself to finishing the book. “Atlas Shrugged” was her final work of fiction and her biggest accomplishment. In this book, she showed the importance of her philosophy in a mystery story that included ethics, metaphysics, epistemology, politics, economics, and sex. Through the rest of her life, Ayn Rand wrote and educated others on her philosophy objectivism. Rand passed away on March 6, 1982, though many copies of all her books are sold each year and her visions of man along with her philosophy for living on earth have impacted many readers.
Political and Philosophical Views:
Ayn Rand’s political and philosophical beliefs stems from her experience growing up in Russia. She witnessed the Bolshevik Revolution which brought a Communist party into power. During this time, her family left their home because of fighting. Her family nearly starved and her father’s pharmacy was taken from the last Communist victory. Living through this time without much freedom, she was drawn to the freedoms that America offered after learning about it in her high school American history class. She again experienced the effects of Communism during her time at the University of Petrograd. The university was run over by communists and freedom of thought was diminished. These experiences developed her political and philosophical views and lead her to create her philosophy known as Objectivism. She believed in rights for all people.
1. Some unique aspects that I notice about the novel and characters are that each person refers to themselves as “we” since they believe that all men are one. They have strange rules in their society such as you cannot do or think alone. Equality 7-2521 is six feet tall which is uncommon and Teachers and Leaders believe there is evil in his bones since he has grown more. People live in the Home of the Infants until they are five, then they move to the Home of the Students at 15, next they are assigned a job and must work to the age of 40 where they are moved to the Home of the Useless till they die.
2. In Anthem, the main character is Equality 7-2521.
3. The exact setting of the story is not specified, but the story mostly takes place in a town that is very organized and has many different rules. The town is made up of Councils, Homes, and Palaces such as the Council of the Home, the Home of the Infants, and the Palace of Corrective Detention. Depending on the job you are assigned, you live at a home with others of the same job. In their society, they believe each person is nothing, though mankind is everything so each individual refers to themselves using “we” or “our”. Some rules they enforce are that you may not do or think alone and that you must never speak of the times before the Great Rebirth, the Unmentionable Times. The time period is set in the future past the Great Rebirth although the rebirth got rid of more advanced technology and put new authority into place. On page 19, it states,”They whisper many strange things, of the towers which rose to the sky, in those Unmentionable Times, and of wagons which moved without horses, and of the lights which burned without flame.”
4. Alone is a fearful word since there is no offense darker than to do or think alone. Their law states that nobody may ever be alone since it is the root of all evil.
5. Equality 7-2521 thinks he is evil because he is six feet tall unlike many men and the Teachers and Leaders say evil lies in his bones since his body has grown more than others. He has also committed crimes in his life.
6. The times before the Great Rebirth may have been darker times as you will be sentenced to three years in the Palace of Corrective Detention if you speak of it. Older people whisper of those strange times where towers scraped the sky, wagons moved without any horses, and lights burned without a flame.
7. Equality is different from his brothers since he has grown taller than most of them. He is also the only one who has been born with a curse to commit crimes.
8. Equality wanted to be assigned as a Scholar but he was assigned as a Street Sweeper. He was most likely assigned that job since Leaders believed he was evil and could not be given an important job.
9. People are sent to the Home of the Useless when they turn 40. This tells me that the author’s opinion on the society is that once people reach the age of 40 and can no longer serve their community, they are useless.
10. Equality’s crime is that he discovered a great underground tunnel from the Unmentionable Times and he does not report the find to the City Council. He goes there alone each night to study with items he has stolen.
11. Equality most likely feels no shame in the crimes he has committed since he thinks what he is doing is right and he can go to the tunnel to learn much more than what he has been taught.
12. Equality likes Liberty 5-3000 although their society believes it is wrong for men to take notice of women and women to take notice of men since it goes against the Transgression of Preference. Equality admires Liberty then one day Liberty stares back and they continue to greet one another with their eyes, smiles, and gestures during work. They do not yet speak to each other since it is a transgression to speak to men of other Trades. Eventually, Equality breaks the law and speaks to Liberty.
13. Equality calls Liberty 5-3000 “The Golden One”
14. Equality acts emotionally when he realizes Liberty could be sent to the Palace of Mating because he does not want her to leave. This displays that Equality really likes Liberty.
15. In Equality’s society, it is taught and believed to always be happy. He wonders about how men cannot be unhappy when they live for their brothers and when the earth and freedom belongs to them. He wonders about this since he senses fear in his brothers. Equality states, “The heads of our brothers are bowed. The eyes of our brothers are dull, and never do they look one another in the eyes. The shoulders of our brothers are hunched, and their muscles are drawn, as if their bodies were shrinking and wished to shrink out of sight” (Rand 46). The problem may be that the people do not enjoy their society and all the rules, and may be scared of punishments for breaking rules.
16. If someone finds out the unspeakable word and say it out loud, they are punished with death by being burned alive after their tongue is ripped out.
17. Equality has discovered electricity. Equality learns that this great power can move the needle of a compass, can cause lightning, can move the body of a dead frog, and defies all the laws known to men. He also believes this power has come from the Unmentionable Times. Equality states, “We put a piece of copper and a piece of zinc into a jar of brine, we touched a wire to them, and there, under our fingers, was a miracle which had never occurred before, a new miracle and a new power” (Rand 53).
18. Equality thinks that the Council of Scholars are blind because they have said that everyone knows everything that exists and the things that are not known by everyone do not exist, yet he believes the secrets of Earth are not for all men to see. He has found the secret of electricity unknown to any of his brothers.
19. On page 18, it mentions the Palace of Corrective Detention which is a euphemism for a prison where people are punished for breaking laws. On page 20, Equality talks about the Home of the Students which is a euphemism for a school. Euphemisms are important to this society since they make things that may sound bad sound more pleasant so they can have a more perfect and happier society.
20. Equality has given Liberty the name “The Golden One” because she has golden hair and is the most beautiful of all the women.
21. Liberty has given Equality the name “The Unconquered.” This name seems appropriate because he does not let the rules in his society stop him from doing what he wants.
22. Liberty’s Life Mandate is to work in the fields.
23. Equality intends to share his discovery with Scholars so it can be used to light up the city. He states, “We can light our tunnel, and the City, and all the Cities of the world with nothing save metal and wires” (Rand 60) and “We shall go to this Council and we shall lay before them, as our gift, the glass box with the power of the sky” (Rand 61).
24. The World Council of Scholars is a council of the brightest men that meet each year in the various cities of the earth. This council is significant since it allows people from all over the world to share new technology they have found with one another, and Equality can sure his discovery.
25. Equality feels the need to guard his tunnel now because he only wants to show his discovery to the Scholars. He believes that if any other men find his tunnel, they would just see the crime of him working alone, and they would punish him.
26. Equality wants to know what he looks like because he cares about his body and the light he has created with it. This displays that he feels like he is important.
27. Equality was put in the Palace of Corrective Detention since he was in his tunnel for too long and was late to return to the City Theatre. When the Council of the Home asked him where he had been, he did not tell them.
28. Equality was lashed and beaten in the Palace until he would tell where he had been.
29. Equality was able to escape from the Palace since the locks are old and there are no guards. It was suddenly necessary to escape since the World Council of Scholars was meeting the following day, and he needed to show them his discovery.
30. Equality did not attempt to escape earlier because he would have a bigger risk of being caught before the World Council of Scholars.
31. Equality refers to the pages he has written as his confession to the Home of the Scholars.
32. Equality says “We are old now, and yet we were young this morning” because he has faced so many things and has learned much more. He is young in age although he feels much older and wiser.
33. When Equality presented his discovery to the World Council of Scholars, they became scared and did not like his discovery. The Scholars believed he had broken many laws by thinking he was smarter than his brothers, working alone, and thinking he could be greater than a Street Sweeper. In the novel, it states, “But terror struck the men of the Council” (Rand 70) and “‘How dare you think that your mind held greater wisdom than the minds of your brothers?'” (Rand 71).
34. When Ayn Rand writes, “for their eyes were still, and small, and evil” , she means that the scholars are not interested and do not like what anyone, besides themselves, have to offer to them. They have their own plan for the world and believe it is fine as it is. I know this since Equality showed them the electricity he discovered, but they did not care about its uses and only wanted to punish him for the laws he broke.
35. The World Council of Scholars are concerned about Equality’s discovery because not all of Equality’s brothers agree that he has found a new power, he has worked on it alone and broken many other laws, it would destroy the Department of Candles, it would ruin the Plans of the World Council, and lighten the work of men.
36. As Equality runs to escape from the Scholars and the City, he eventually ends up in the Uncharted Forest. He knows that no men will follow him into the forest and he does not care about anything.
37. Equality experiences pride when eating his first meal since he needed to find food and he was able to get food with his own hands.
38. Equality also discovers a stream and for the first time he can see his beautiful face in the reflection.
39. Equality is not concerned about being one of the Damned because there is not much to worry about in the forest, there are no rules to follow, he can get food and other resources that he needs, and he is wise enough to survive.
40. The Golden One follows Equality into the forest because she would rather be with him than all of their brothers and she believes he is superior to them all. She states, “‘Your eyes are as a flame, but our brothers have neither hope nor fire. Your mouth is cut of granite, but our brothers are soft and humble. Your head is high, but our brothers cringe. You walk, but our brothers crawl'” (Rand 83).
41. In the forest, they discover that it is okay to live alone and that their society has been teaching them lies. Equality states, “There is no joy for men, save the joy shared with all their brothers. But the only things which taught us joy were the power we created in our wires, and the Golden One” (Rand 86).
42. The statement “there is no danger in solitude” is important because it means that it is fine to live and work alone. Equality says there was no joy when he worked for his brothers, but joy came from being alone with the power he made with his wires and when he was alone with the Golden One.
43. Equality and the Golden One discover a house left from the Unmentionable Times.
44. Equality seems to be searching for more knowledge about the Unmentionable Times.
45. The words “I am. I think. I will” are significant because through his whole life, Equality has referred to himself using the word “we”. When he starts to use the word “I”, it opens up a new future for himself and the Golden One where they can thrive on their own. When men have the word “we” as their first thought, there is no joy or freedom as they only work for their brothers. With the word “I” as the primary thought, there is freedom and joy since individuals see their own self-worth. Equality states,”I wished to know the meaning of things. I am the meaning. I wished to find a warrant for being, and no word of sanction upon my being. I am the warrant and the sanction” (Rand 94).
46. The website ushistory.org says a transcendentalist is someone that believes everyone has knowledge about themselves and the world around them that reaches beyond what they can see, hear, taste, touch, and feel. They gain this knowledge from their imagination and intuition, and not from logic or the senses. They believe in themselves to know what is right.
47. One percept that Equality adopts as a guide to his life is that he is not a friend or enemy to any of his brothers. His friends must earn his love and honor. Another rule that Equality lives by is that he is not a tool or servant for others. He states, “I am not a tool for their use. I am not a servant of their needs. I am not a bandage for their wounds. I am not a sacrifice on their altars” (Rand 95). In addition, Equality adopts the percept that he will not surrender nor share his treasures with his brothers. These percepts are similar to the thoughts of the transcendentalists because they both express that each individual can trust themselves to be their own judge on what is right. They believe everyone has their own knowledge and connection to the universe. For example, Equality left behind his society of corrupt leaders and began his own life with the knowledge that he gained.
48. When Equality says that he is done with this creed of corruption, he means that he is done with the dishonest beliefs that he has been taught in his life.
49. Equality believes that people require names since it is not proper for people to live without names. He also read that there was a time when each man had their own name to distinguish themself from others. I think names are important because they make each individual special and give us meaning.
50. According to author Mark Cartwright from the Ancient History Encyclopedia website, Prometheus is a Titan that is known for being a trickster. He is well known for giving humans the element of fire, although Zeus punished him for this act. The website Windows to the Universe by the National Earth Science Teachers Association says Gaea was the great goddess of the early Greeks. She created the universe, the Titans, and the very first humans. Ayn Rand chose to use them in her story since Equality and the Golden One are going to create a new world and they will share what they have learned to their friends and children, similar to the stories of Gaea and Prometheus.
51. Equality chooses the name Prometheus for himself. Prometheus brought light from the gods to men and he taught them how to become gods. He suffered for this act as everyone who bears light must suffer. Equality also discovers light made from his wires and shares his knowledge with other men. He too is punished in this process.
52. Equality suggests the name Gaea for Liberty because Gaea was the mother of the earth and all the gods. Equality believes the Golden One will be the mother of a new kind of gods. Together, they will teach others and build a new world with that they have learned.
53. Equality is able to learn so much from the house in the forest since there are many books and other technology left from the Unmentionable Times.
54. Equality learns that to reach freedom, a man must be free from his brothers, and only other men can take a man’s freedom from him. He additionally learns that man was first enslaved by the gods, then by the kings, then by his birth, kin, and race, but man broke free from them all. Once men had earned their freedom, they gave it up to worship the word “we.”
55. The sacred word is ego. Egos are important since they define each individual and give us self-worth. The website Merriam-Webster states that ego is “the self especially as contrasted with another self or the world.” It is the one and only sacred word because their society believes that each individual is not important, though mankind is all. Everyone lives and works for one another and it is against the rules to do otherwise.
After the Reading Novel Questions:
1. In many real and fictionalized totalitarian societies, dictatorial leaders force children to live apart from their families to get rid of individuality and so the leaders can have more power. Much of a person’s individuality comes from living with their family since they have more freedom and leaders have less control of what they can do. When children are separated from their families and put in a setting that is fully controlled by their leaders, the leaders have more power to teach their ideas. In conclusion, dictatorial leaders in totalitarian societies arrange children to live away from their families so the leaders have more control and there is no individuality.
2. When the Council threatens to destroy his invention, Equality finally understands that his society is corrupt and made up of fools. His invention could benefit the society as a source of light and power, though the Scholars only saw the crimes that Equality committed and wanted to punish him. They did not think his discovery would help them and thought it would only cause problems by ruining the Plans of the World Council. In addition, they believed his invention was bad because he worked on it alone and not all his brothers agreed that he had found a new power. The scholars also believed his creation was a great evil since it lightened the toil of men, and men must toil for other men or they are useless. In the end, Equality recognizes that his society is irrational and untrustworthy when they threaten to ruin his invention.
3. Equality’s view of morality at the end of the novel is different than that of his society’s view. First, Equality feels that it is ok to live and work alone. He states, “But the only things which taught us joy were the power we created in our wires, and the Golden One. And both these joys belong to us alone, they come from us alone, they bear no relation to our brothers, and they do not concern our brothers in any way” (Rand 86). On the other hand, his society believes that being alone is the beginning of all evil and there is nothing worse than to do or think alone. Additionally, Equality begins to see himself as an individual and uses the word “I” instead of “we.” He no longer feels a need to serve his brothers or have them serve him. His friends must earn his love and honor and do more than to just be born. In his society, they believe everyone must work for one another. There is no individuality and only mankind as a whole is important to them. To summarize, Equality’s perspective of morality differs from that of his society.
4. Although at first the characters in Anthem appear to be near-automatons, we soon realize that they all have the power to think or not. Everyone can make choices and decisions that affect everything else. For example, Equality makes many choices throughout the book that determine his future. First, Equality makes the choice to break the rules in his society. He works alone and does not tell anyone when he discovers a hidden tunnel. This leads to him creating electricity and showing the discovery to the Scholars. When the Scholars want to punish Equality for what he has done, he makes the decision to run away into the Uncharted Forest. In addition, the Golden One makes the choice to follow him into the forest. There they begin a better life for themselves with their own percepts. Even people such as the Council of Vocations choose jobs for the students in their society. To conclude, everyone in Anthem has the ability to make their own choices which determine everything else.
5. Though many people insist that the hardships they face come from outside factors and they have no control over them, Equality displays that this is not true. Equality was born into a society where everyone must work for their brothers and there is no individualism. There are also different rules such as that you cannot do or think alone. Throughout the novel, Equality learns new things and realizes that his society is corrupted. When his discovery of electricity is rejected by the scholars, he cannot take it anymore and he runs off alone into the forest. The Golden One follows him and they begin their own happy life. They gain knowledge left from the Unmentionable Times and hope to create a new world with what they have learned. In the end, Equality proves that it is possible to overcome challenges that come from external conditions.
6. Although Equality is heavily outnumbered and modern society is ruined, Anthem, shows that the story is about liberation, hope, and the achievement of an individual’s independent spirit. When Equality realizes that his society is doomed, he runs and creates a better life for himself. The Golden One follows him and they live by new ideas. They no longer let the corrupt leaders of their society control what they do, and Equality knows they can improve the world’s future. Slowly, they will teach their friends and their children that it is perfectly fine to live alone, be an individual, and use the word “I.” Equality states, “Here, on this mountain, I and my sons and my chosen friends shall build our new land and our fort. And it will become as the heart of the earth, lost and hidden at first, but beating, beating louder each day” (Rand 104). Though the odds may not seem to be in Equality’s favor, Anthem cleary proves that it is a story expressing faith, freedom, and how a self-reliant spirit can make a difference.
7. In Anthem, men have accepted dishonest ideas and do not oppose the leaders in their society. First, everyone has learned to live by and worship the word “we.” Through their whole life they have been controlled by their leaders and only know that they must work for their brothers. Men have no say in who they can be friends with or who can reach into their joy. There is no freedom. They only believe what their leaders have taught them and do not think to live otherwise. The people in Anthem may believe their life is perfect, though they do not realize they are being taught corrupt ideas. Also, any people that may want to oppose the leaders are afraid to do so. They do not want to be punished for speaking against the leaders or breaking rules. To conclude, the people in Anthem do not argue against their leaders, and have accepted concepts that lead to them living a life of fear and obedience.
8. The characters and plot in Anthem illustrate the theme “the meaning of a man’s ego.” Ego gives each individual a feeling of self-worth and a sense that they are more important than everyone else. In Equality’s society, very few people have egos since there is no individuality and only everyone as a whole matters. In the story, Equality understands the importance of ego when he realizes his society is made up of useless fools, and he runs off alone into the Uncharted Forest. He begins a new meaningful life for himself and the Golden One. Equality begins to use the word “I” and puts his feelings before anybody else’s. He sees that happiness and meaning comes from having an ego, like how his happiness came from being alone with the Golden One and his box of electricity. In conclusion, the theme “the meaning of a man’s ego” is expressed through the characters and plot in Anthem.
9. In Anthem, the leaders use different methods to enslave a man’s body and destroy one’s mind to accomplish their tyrannical end. Everyone must worship the word “we.” There is no individuality and everyone lives to serve their fellow brothers. In addition, each person has been taught by their leaders since they were born. They must live in the Home of Infants till they are five, then they move to the Home of the Students till they are 15, after that they are assigned a job and must live with others of the same job, then at 40 they are sent to the Home of the Useless for the rest of their life. Doing this also makes it easier for the leaders to control them since they do not live with their family. Lastly, they punish anybody who does not follow their rules so there are rarely any people who speak against the leaders. Everyone is forced to do what the leaders say. In conclusion, the leaders in Anthem use various strategies such as punishing those who break the rules and forcing everyone to use the word “we” to achieve their cruel objectives.