A Bit About Anthem by Ayn Rand

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Transcript A Bit About Anthem by Ayn Rand

By Ayn Rand
About the Author
• Ayn Rand was born in St.
Petersburg, Russia, in
• At age six she taught
herself to read and
decided to make fiction
writing her career at age
About the Author
At the University of Petrograd, Rand studied
philosophy and history. When introduced to
American history, she immediately took America
as her model of what a nation of free men and
women could be.
Eventually, Rand obtained permission to leave
Soviet Russia for the United States. She spent
six months with relatives in Chicago and then
worked in Hollywood as a screenwriter for much
of her adult life.
About the Author
During her career as a screenwriter, Rand began
writing novels. Between writing chapters of The
Fountainhead, Rand worked on the “anticollectivist novella Anthem” (1937).
Plot Summary
• Anthem is a work of dystopian fiction (dystopian is a word
with Greek roots that refers to a society opposite of a utopia).
• It takes place in a future world in which society is governed
by “collectivism”(a system similar to communism). The
community has many rules with strict consequences and
virtually no freedoms.
Collectivism vs. Individualism
• In Collectivism the individual . . .
is owned by the group
has no right to a private existence
has no right to lead his own life, pursue his own happiness,
or use his own property
exists only as part of the group
Collectivism vs. Individualism
• In Individualism the individual . . .
has rights
will not run anyone else’s life, nor let anyone run theirs
will not rule or be ruled
will not be a master nor a slave
will not sacrifice themselves to anyone, nor sacrifice anyone
to themselves
Plot Summary
• In Anthem, technological advancement is limited
by government (known as The Council). The
society of Anthem lives in a dark age in which
technology like electricity has disappeared.
• Men and women are assigned jobs at birth and
reproduction is managed by the state.
• The concept of individuality has been eliminated.
• All individual names have been made numbers
preceded by words “Equality” and “Union.”
Key Literary Terms
The central or dominant idea behind the story; the most
important aspect that emerges from how the book treats the
Point of View:
The position or vantage point from which the events of a
story seem to come and are presented to the reader
When and where the short story, play, or novel takes place
The one who tells the story
A recurrent device, formula, or situation that often serves
as a signal for the appearance of a character or event
• A motif is a recurrent device, formula, or situation that
often serves as a signal for the appearance of a character
or event. The following motifs are present in Anthem.
• The use of darkness and light
• The presence of ignorance and knowledge
• The idea of transgression and damnation
Motifs (cont’d)
• Fear
• Fear in Anthem characterizes those social lepers who do not
have enough sense of themselves to understand that each
individual is the center of his or her universe.
• Naming
• In the society in Anthem, naming is a form of identifying
one’s possessions as one’s own. For this reason, Equality
7-2521 names the Golden One on two separate occasions,
names himself, and searches relentlessly for the word “I.”
• Shapelessness
• Like fear, shapelessness in Anthem connotes evil because it
illustrates a lack of willingness or ability to believe in
something and to stand behind it.
The Council
Who is the hero of Anthem?
The hero is somebody who is fearless,
one who will stand up for the self, not
the society.
The hero is searching for his own identity.
The closest thing to a climax in the book is
when the hero discovers the word- I.
To Know, before you read…
• The novel is written using the word “We” because people
were not allowed to use the word “I”, they were a
collective society & not an individual one
• The novel is written in the future and people can barely
remember/know what life was like (life as society now).
Imagine that everything has been wiped out & society is
starting from scratch even though it is the future
Intro Activity 1
Read the poem “Invictus” by William Ernest
Henley and answer the following questions:
• What kind of “night” could suppress an
individual? What other language in the poem
suggests the theme of oppression?
• Sum up the message of the poem in one
• How does the message compare to messages in
the works of ancient literature we have read?
Key Facts
• type of work · Novella
• genre · Anti-Utopian (The world presented is the world as it
should NOT be.)
time and place written · The United States, 1937
narrator · Equality 7-2521 writes the journal of the events as
they transpire over the course of several months.
point of view · Equality 7-2521 speaks in the first person
(plural) He will refer to himself as “we” instead of “I.”
tone · Equality 7-2521 records his thoughts and actions in a
straightforward manner, with no trace of irony.
tense · Present, with some past-tense narration
Key Facts
• setting (time) · Sometime in the distant future, after
the collapse of the social order because of the
common acceptance of collectivist values
• setting (place) · An unidentified city; much of the
first half of Anthem is narrated from a tunnel
underground where Equality 7-2521 is hiding, and
the second half is narrated from a forest where he
has taken refuge from a society that hates him.
• protagonist · Equality 7-2521
• symbols · Light; the forest; manuscripts
Equality 7-2521’s New Name
• Equality 7-2521
• The Unconquered
• Prometheus
• In Greek mythology,
Prometheus surpassed all
in cunning and deceit. He
held no awe for the gods,
and he ridiculed Zeus.
Prometheus was the
creator of man. He stole
fire from heaven and gave it
to his human creations.
Liberty 5-3000’s New Name
• Liberty 5-3000
• The Golden One
• Gaea
• In Greek mythology, Gaea is known as Earth or Mother Earth. She is
considered the primeval divinity of earth, one of the primal elements who first
emerged at the dawn of creation, along with air, sea, and sky. She was the
great mother of all.