Anthem in Ayn Rand’s Context

Anthem is a story written by Ayn Rand, which is a fictitious reflection of the communist era in Russia (Soviet Union back in the day). It tells the life of the main character, Equality 7-2521, who wants to be more than what he already is, but the rules of the place in which he lives in doesn’t allow him to out stand and instead, he has to live in a collective society where all men work for all men and all men were equal. All except him, Equality. This is a very satiric story that not only conveys a critique to communism itself (indirectly), but it also represents Ayn Rand’s feelings towards the situation that her hometown was going through in the times of the beginnings of the Soviet Union. By using several factors such as the characters, the tone, and technique, the author was able to make a direct correlation between the story and the Soviet Union, clarifying her controversial thoughts with regards to the communist era.

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Badge and colors of the Soviet Union. Link to image: here.

 

The Correlation

The techniques that Ayn Rand used in this story help the reader understand more about what was going on in the time period of both the story and in real life, and also to make a connection between both situations. One particular factor that Rand used was language. Even though it was not clear at the beginning, as the story goes on, the reader can realize that by the characters using “we” to replace “I”. The word “we” represents the collective society in which the story develops and how the character should refer to themselves as “we” to avoid individuality and promote equality. In relationship with real life, communist Russia was living under similar standards, where the society should be equal, but the some were more equal than others.  The main character is named Equality 7-2521, and based on the story and in comparison with the situation of the world at that time, he represents the society that though different and that didn’t have the nature of acting in the collective way. In the end, the meaning of Equality 7-2521 is reflected in that society in those who succeeded in leaving the communist regime and found new ways of living.

When (…) I first heard the Communist principle that Man must exist for the sake of the State, I perceived that this was the essential issue, that this principle was evil, and that it could lead to nothing but evil – Ayn Rand

Rand’s Point of View

 

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Anthem can be interpreted as a critique to the communist regime that the Soviet Union was imposing on it’s society. It is possible to see the difference in the author’s tone when Equality 7-2521 is still in that place where collectivism was the way of living, compared to when he escapes and decides to start living as an individual self with The Golden One. At first, the story has a sense of oppression and unfairness with some characters, but towards the end of the story, the picture of a better society gives a sense of positivism. This presentation of events by Rand reflects her actual thoughts about her hometown and her criticism to communism. She said that at a young age, when she realized and understood what communism was all about, she opposed the idea. This is why Anthem is clearly directed in the way of a critique (or condemnation) to the Soviet Union’s situation and an alternative of living, which was what Rand believed in.

 

Conclusion

In conclusion, it is fair to say that Anthem represents the actual situation of the common society in the Soviet Union from the critical point of view from the author, Ayn Rand. Not only her techniques at the moment of writing, but also the direct comparison or connection that she makes between the characters (and their names), the settings, and the sequence of events. The background behind it is what gives significance to the story and specially when Ayn Rand was directly affected by the situation that somehow gave her the inspiration or motivation to write it. Anthem is not only a fictitious story about an outstanding individual in a collective society, but it’s also a projection of a real life difficult situation that gave a writer an inspiration to portray a critique against it.

 

Sources:

Links to Ayn Rand’s information here and here.

Anthem information here.

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