Set in an unnamed locale in the future, Anthem is without a doubt Ms. Rand’s sardonic view of the evils of human aggregation and its attempts at suppression of individuality. Rand takes it to the extreme in a society where free thinking is punishable by death and people speak and think in collective terms only, stating we and us and never I or me.
Equality 7-2521, the story’s narrator, is not ready to accept this new world order and discovers a tunnel he escapes to and begins conducting experiments after being afforded time alone to actually think. Rather than succumb to the madness as some around him do by screaming “Help us”, he chooses to separate from the crowd; a risky endeavor, and discovers the liberation of his independence.
A peasant worker, Liberty 5-3000, also known as The Golden One attracts Equality 7-2521 and quickly assures him that he is not alone in his quest for self actualization. Part lust, part rebellion, she takes risks to spend time away from her fellow peasant women. Her mettle is apparent when she follows her exiled lover to the forbidden forest where their instincts for personal freedom are rewarded.
The Transgressor of the Unspeakable Word is burned alive as witnessed by the 10-year-old Equality 7-2521. He is punished for uttering the unspeakable word and has his tongue removed before he is publicly burned, yet his eyes fall upon our narrator and he appears not to be suffering.
Such an interesting persona as Ms. Rand would surely allow for lively conversation. I’d love to hear about her young years in Russia and views of the Bolsheviks. It’s easy to see why she was so attracted to America and I’m sure she’d have many tales to spin about her initial arrival. Perhaps she’d share her thoughts on the impact of her dystopian works as a segue to her personal beliefs.
My rating for Anthem is an 8 out of 10.
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