Anthem by Ayn Rand is a disturbing book. It is disturbing in the sense that it opens the reader eyes to a world without individuals. A world without the notion of me, my, I, but only with us, we, ours. This world is one of a collectivist society. Collectivism is based on principals of the “common good. ” Everyone pitched in towards this common good, but in order to do that society could not have any out-liers. Thus, individual rights were taken away. This story is one of hope that shows that no matter the situation the human spirit will continue to fight for itself.
There are many strong quotes in this book that further the image of the collective society and show how one young man, Equality 7-2521 fights in his own mind against what society tells him. These images connect the book with outside ideas by not only telling the reader what happens when collectivism goes to far, but by showing the reader what a collective society would look like. One such quote is “The only thing which taught us joy were the power we created in our wires, and The Golden One. This passage is very significant.
The reason being Equality 7-2521 realizes that he does not find joy in society. He finds that he has received joy by his own doing and the choice he has to love one other person. It says in the book that it was considered a sin to look at a person of the opposite sex, but when Equality sees the Golden One he can not help himself. He starts to think that society is wrong. Equality does not understand how society could find the relationship he has with The Golden One sinful.
It was one of those “if this is wrong, I don’t want to be right” moments. Equality starts forming his own opinions about life apart from society’s opinions. He comes to this realization by remembering how unhappy his childhood was because when he went to school he was whipped for being smarter than the others, and he recalled he had never been truly happy… until now. He sees the connection between breaking the law, and finding happiness and realizes that maybe society isn’t as omnipotent as he was taught it was. He found joy in his wires.
Like a father beaming with pride for his son , Equality found an inner-joy from his creation that he had never felt before. His life up until this point had been full of oppression, and of being punished for qualities that would be praised in a normal society such as being smart, and handsome. Equality’s glass box and wires are something he decided society could not take away from him not matter what. This is the first time Equality had felt true independent and he is not about to give it up. This is the first time he has gone against the grain. He chose to make the wire.
He made it all by himself, not him along with 99 other people. This is the first thread of individualism that he lets shine through. It is crucially important because in order for change to occur Equality must separate himself from society completely. If Equality kept depending on society like he was then his life would simply drudge on, and his thirst for something new and exciting would never be quenched. This joy he has found in the Golden One and in his wires will drive him to take a huge leap of faith, and not be afraid to try to make it on his own.
They give him the security he needs to trust in himself. The society that Equality lives in is a collectivist society. In collectivism one gives up their rights as an individual for the good of the whole. That sounds innocent enough, but when Ayn Rand takes it to an extreme it seems horrible. At one point in the novel Similarity 5-0306 states, “Men have no cause to exist save in toiling for other men. ” The quote taps into the very root of collectivism and could not be clearer. The people of this society had been taught that theme from a very young age.
They were taught that they were worth nothing unless “brother men” needed them. They had no right to exist on their own, that right was taken away the second it became a collectivist society. The reader saw this quote come to life through the everyday life of Equality 7-2521. He is a street sweeper who goes along everyday, all day and cleans the streets for the other people. He picks up all the trash on the streets in front of other people’s businesses. And in return, all of the street sweepers are provided with food, clothes, and other necessities.
Another huge point is that the society does not use money. This means they have a direct service for service system. Which means that if one wanted clothes in the society, they would need to perform a service for the tailor. Likewise, if the tailor wanted a clean street he would need to make togas for the street sweepers. Everyone is so dependent on each other that they know they can not survive in this society on their own. “The glass box in our arms, is like a living heart that gives us strength. We have lied to ourselves.
We have not built the box for the good of our brothers. ” This quote gives us an idea of where Equality got his courage. It took so much courage for him to break out of the detention center and go to the House of the Scholars. It took courage for him to leave into the uncharted forest, determined to find someplace he could call home. This quote is when Equality realizes that the wires he made are more than raw materials, and more then an invention, they are worth his life. They have become not only a beating heart but his heart.
He knows that this is what he was living for, this forbidden something that he cannot name yet-Independence. By the rejection of his box, society pushed Equality to do what he has secretly always wanted to do… leave. All of these quotes show the principals of collectivism, which was the main theme running throughout Anthem. Ayn Rand drives in the point that collectivism, although seemingly innocent squashes out any room for development in a society. She also shows the reader how the human spirit is not easily overcome.