Alice O’ Connor, Ayn Rand was a Russian-American writer. In 1937, she wrote Anthem, a dystopian fiction novella. In this book, she shortly mentioned the upcoming highly modernized world. It is a classic tale of a dystopian self-centric future as if we were speaking alone to no one’s ears but our own.
Anthem Book by Ayn Rand: Symbolism
“I” vs “We”
In the book Anthem, Ayn Rand used some words and phrases to imply individualism. Here using “I” vs “We” she tried to symbolize Capitalism vs Communism.
Good vs Bad
In this book, Ayn Rand shows two sides of the community, where one believes in individualism and the other beliefs in the collective. In fact, to prove individualism wrong, the collective forced and punished them. Here the author showed the side of Equality 7-2521 and the side of the council to symbolize good vs bad.
Anthem Book by Ayn Rand: Characters list
Equality was a street sweeper who is the protagonist of the novella. He is strong and beautiful as well as self-centered and intelligent. However, he later changed his name to Prometheus. He is the kind of person who believes in individualism and rejects collectivist culture.
Equality 7-2521 is curious about everything around him, and he also desires freedom to think and explore everything.
The Golden One
In Anthem, the Golden one is a beautiful peasant. Equality 7-2521 falls in love with her because of her characteristics. The Golden one shows her love and her willingness to obey Equality 7-2521 by allowing him to change her name.
Equality 7-2521 changed her name from Liberty 5-3000 to the Golden one.
Later he again changed her name to Gaea. The Golden one falls in love with Equality 7-2521 because of his intelligence and different thoughts than most other men around her. However, she also started to struggle with a desire to find the word “I”. She wanted it to express her love for Equality 7-2521.
The Transgressor of the Unspeakable Word
In this book, He played the role of scapegoat for the word “I”. The martyr of the Unspeakable Word, as he is burned alive, suffered no pain. He was killed because he knew the meaning of individualism. However, his death was a warning or indication of the suffering for Equality 7-2521. According to Ayn Rand, he represents the proper way of death for the cause of egoism.
Prometheus’s only friend. International 4-8818 views Prometheus as a prophet. Equality 7-2521 discovers the tunnel where he hides to write his journal and make his discoveries. However, at that time, International 4-8818 was in a situation that pulled him apart between loyalty to his friend and his desire not to break the law.
He is the leader of the Council of Scholar World. In this book, he is shapeless and cowardly, like all members of the council. His views on Equality are of fear and hate because of breaking the council rules. He thinks that only the council’s decisions can be of value.
Anthem Book by Ayn Rand: Summary
Let’s try to understand the summary of the novel in a few stages.
A 21-year-old street sweeper named Equality 7-2521 writes in his journal. He was sitting alone in a disused railway tunnel. He was thinking for himself that has been outlawed in his collectivist society. However, Equality 7-2521 always hates the culture of using the pronoun “we”. Physically he is strong and tall. His intellectually curious mentality and other qualities set him apart from his peers. In his childhood education, he always thought of a job in the house of scholars. However, the council assigned him an insulting job i.e. of a sweeper.
One day while doing his job, Equality 7-2521 discovers an entrance to an underground tunnel. It was a leftover tunnel and no one used it from the unmentionable times. From this very day Equality, 7-2521 does not attend the mandatory entertainment each night and manages some time to spend alone in the tunnel. There he used to read stolen manuscripts and stolen tools to conduct experiments.
Equality 7-2521 falls in love with Liberty 5-3000. She is a beautiful lady who works in the home of the peasants. Whenever he goes near her field to sweep, they openly indicate their love and affection for one another. Later, Equality 7-2521 changes Liberty 5-3000’s name to the Golden one as a sign of love and affection.
Finally, one day he decided to tell the Golden one his special feelings towards her. On the day after this encounter Equality 7-2521’s joyfulness and happiness distinguish him from his other miserable peers.
One night Equality 7-2521, inside the tunnel, recalls a childhood memory where he saw the council publicly burn the transgressor of the unspoken word. While
Working in his tunnel, Equality 7-2521 discovers the strange fact that metal can conduct electricity. He started to believe that men harness this power during the unmentionable times.
However, sometimes later, he meets the Golden one again. He drinks water from the Golden one’s cupped hands. This action struck them both by the powerful emotions that they feel for each other.
Equality 7-2521 decides to use his new knowledge in the creation of a light bulb. He sees the usefulness of the light bulb for mankind and decides that he will present it in front of the world councils of scholars. He decides to present this when they meet in the city. However, celebrating his success of creating the light bulb, Equality 7-2521 forgets to return to his work in the city theatre on time. However, the council tortures him for this sin, but he refuses to disclose the place where he spent time alone. Then the council imprisoned Equality 7-2521 for his sin, but he escaped the day before the world council of scholars decided to meet.Read Also: Glycerol: Properties, Formula & Uses
Escaping from the prison Equality 7-2521 further prepares his invention to present to the council. He was confident that the council would appreciate his experiment and creation of the light bulb even if he sinned to accomplish it.
However, Equality 7-2521’s presentation in front of the world council of scholars does change their minds. The scholars sent Equality 7-2521 to prison again thinking that he acted alone.
However, they decide to punish him for his sins and destroy his creation for interrupting the principles of collectivism. After this Equality 7-2521 cursed the council and ran away through a window holding his invention in his arms.
Finally, he decides to run to the forest and live there. After a day his newfound escape life makes him feel happy. The next day Equality 7-2521 finds that the Golden one also followed him into the forest. She ran towards the forest after hearing that Equality 7-2521 escaped from the city. They promise their devotion to each other and walk together in the forest for days in search of shelter.
However, they successfully found a house made of oak in the mountains. Most probably it was abandoned since the unmentionable time. They enter the house and find old artifacts like used mirrors in worse condition and manuscripts. That particular night Equality 7-2521 does not sleep and keeps reading the texts of the manuscript and discovers the unspeakable word “I”. In the writing, the writer mentioned his happiness to be the only purpose of his living.
Afterwards, reading this, Equality 7-2521 decides to give a new name to himself, Prometheus. Prometheus was the Greek logical figure who stole fire from the Gods to give to humans. Further, Equality 7-2521 gives the golden one the name Jia.
Few months pass, Jia becomes pregnant and Prometheus promises to Jia that he decided to begin a new society. It will be a society of egotists, where he will recruit new members from his former city. However, Equality 7-2521 soon realizes that the collectivists failed the accomplishments of the unmentionable time because of the worship of the word “we”. He recalls the heroic struggle and fights of the soldiers like the transgressor of the unspeakable word and decides to continue their mission of building the society of Egotists.
Some frequently asked questions about Anthem Book by Ayn Rand
Q. What is the main message of Anthem?
Ans. Individualism is the main message or theme of the novel Anthem. However, the writer wanted to make people realize that one is more important than a council or a collective.
Q. Is Anthem a short story?
Ans. Anthem is a dystopian fiction novella written by Ayn Rand.
Q. What is Equality’s curse?
Ans. According to the novel, Equality’s curse is that he was born intelligent. That is what caused him unhappiness in his life.
Q. What is the unspeakable word in Anthem?
Ans. According to Anthem, the first-person pronoun “I” is an unspeakable word.
Q. Who is the golden one in Anthem?
Ans. In Anthem, the golden one is a beautiful lady who works in a peasant house, with whom Equality 7-2521 falls in love.
Q. Why is ego the last word in Anthem?
Ans. In Anthem, Ayn Rand tried to promote individualism. That is why she used the word ego to imply that “one” is greater than the collective.