Anthem by Ayn Rand Book Review
The narrative established by Ayn Rand's book, Anthem, takes upon a futuristic route in a lifestyle where many live under the oppression of lack of identity. In this story, Ayn Rand touches upon the tyrannical leaders of the society who brainwash the inhabitants of the world with iniquitous precepts. The main precept which the book focuses on is identification of individuals being non-existent. The book follows the life of the principal figure, Equality 7-2521, and his encounter with such an unjust civilization. Throughout his many journal entries, Equality´s thoughts begin to pile, one over the other, and plummet down to his doom as he is faced with a hard decision. His instincts lead to the realization that something is wrong about the world in which he lives in which causes him to escape from it. Equality 7-2521’s aggressive personality saved him from a world of passive people which many people nowadays should take after. Although the question remains; Shall he lose his entity to the discovery of old creation or beat a hasty retreat to an outlawed environment?
The more we read, we see that Equality 7-2521 is not just like every typical person on this globe. He ponders upon topics that should not be pondered upon and acts upon actions that shouldn’t be acted on. Equality 7-2521 had always craved to be assigned to the Home of Scholars although it was a sin. No man should ever wish anything for themselves hence it was the Council of Vocations who were to determine.(p.5) Equality 7-2521 had ended up being allocated to the Home of Street Sweepers. Guilty of his crime, he accepted the order for he knew it would be a way to make up for the curse he had. The curse that drove him to do extraordinary things. Overall, the wrongdoings of Equality 7-2521 were too heavy on his heart. From making friendships, to exploring forbidden underground trenches, he was “stained with crimes”. Although, we must truly interpret the rules and laws of the government to fully grasp onto Equality’s decisions. Equality was not a criminal nor a villain but an idiosyncratic being who was thirsty to know more. For all his life he blamed his thoughts and actions on a curse. He believed that he was deranged and stood out from all his brothers. Albeit, this was the most predominant and beneficial characteristic of Equality 7-2521. Equality 7-2521 was not entirely positive about the motives of his perceptions or what illuminated him that something was off but he never stopped digging. Curiosity played a substantial role in all of his actions. It was curiosity that led him down the tunnels. It was curiosity that led him to contribute his source of light to the World Council of Scholars. It was curiosity that ended him up in the Uncharted Forest. Equality 7-2521 possessed something which many lacked. Or did they?
Everyone committed crimes and were guilty of what circulated in their minds, but no one dared to speak up because fear danced about their minds. The people around Equality 7-2521 were passive. Everyone obeyed the commandments of their leaders. (p.16) This can even be applied to the present time today. For instance, I remember a past class scenario where the teacher was incorrectly attempting to solve a problem on the board. No one plucked up the courage to raise their hands and notify the teacher of the mistake in spite of the fact that he was vastly stern and strict. The class terrorized the response the professor would offer if he was criticized. In Anthem, the students are civilization and the teacher is the Council of Vocations. Equality 7-2521 would be the student who raises their hand to correct the teacher with no fear of the aftermath.
It’s crucial to take into account the true purpose of many regulations, laws, and commands. The council stripped mankind of their identity and beliefs. No man was given permission to wish for things, have opinions, make friends, and mainly they weren’t given options. Everything was planned and selected for them. If you were different from the crowd, either physically or mentally you were shamed upon. A person too tall had “evil in their bones” (p.3) and those too smart were “cursed”(p.4). Whenever one feels tempted they recite words to themselves that are carved onto the marble that states “We are one in all and all in one. There are no men but only the great WE, one indivisible forever.” (p.3) These few words rob everyone of their uniqueness and bring together all of the population into one single “WE”. This is because you are forbidden from referring to yourself as an individual, but rather as a whole. Every action, every saying, and every thought is done by the public, not by an individual. This is exactly what was absent from Equality 7-2521’s life. He knew he was distinct. He recognized that he stood out, but the board had brainwashed him into thinking that being unique is the worst sin committed. Equality 7-2521 had no fear of standing up for what was right. He didn’t just dwell on these thoughts for the majority of his life, but he put them into action. These days, the public takes in everything the government says because you would think the government would only want the best for the people. Personages trust the top authorities and go along with everything they pronounce without doubting once that it can be flawed. The death penalty is a good case in point. Many see eye to eye with it because it’s still existent. Their logic is if something is put into law, then it would only be to benefit the people but that is entirely wrong in this situation. Why kill to show that killing is wrong? It does not lower crime rates and neither does it serve as a good punishment. This is why there are human rights activists and protestors for change. Equality 7-2521 was an activist in his society. He realized something was wrong and wasn’t hesitant to do something about it. Equality 7-2521 inspired me to never stay mute when something oppresses human rights. His society oppressed the right of equality and freedom from discrimination, equality before the law, the right to a fair trial, privacy, freedom of belief and religion, and freedom of opinion. Equality’s traits are worth emulating because he had an opinion and he utilized it in a high-minded way.
In essence, the attributes which made up Equality 7-2521 are in fact, what granted him the phlegm and presence of mind to take the initiative of standing up against a communist dictatorship. Being clever enough to observe and be aware when something becomes overly domineering is a trait that all mankind should be equipped with. In Anthem, we see a stroke of Ayn Rand's dreams come true. Men and Women living under the Russian communist rule strongly coveted someone to stand up and condemn the government for their actions. Anthem fulfills Rand’s wishes in a universal high society and calls on many others to invariably sustain an opinion.