Sunday, August 31, 2014

Week 2 - Word Whisperer - Anthem

By Isabel K
Week 2
Word Whisperer

In the novel Anthem, Ayn Rand's use of diction and figurative language provides readers with an excellent understanding of the style and tone in the novel. The author wrote Anthem in a deliberately simple, serious style to complement the story going on in the novel. It is one that is simple and serious, because of the major conflict, which is that Equality 7-2521 struggles to identify himself in a society that has rejected individualism in favor of collectivism, where an individual has no rights, existing only to serve the state. Throughout the story Anthem, Ayn Rand uses unique style, figurative language, and diction to prove the matter at hand.

The style of the novel is one that is odd and unusual, but very helpful in showing and proving the book's meaning. First off, the reader notices one of the most striking features, the use of a first-person narrative. The author uses the first-person plural "we" and not the first-person singular "I". Rand also uses untypical vocabulary such as "transgression" and "base" in the first paragraph. Anthem takes the form of a secret journal, or diary, letting the reader experience Equality 7-2521's every feeling and thought. Finally, the writer intentionally gave the characters numerical names to represent the collectivism in their society.

There is a lot of figurative language that is used effectively in Anthem. One of the forms is Imagery.

"But then came the day when the sky turned white, as if the sun had burst and spread its flame in the air, and the fields lay still without breath, and the dust of the road was white in the glow "


"The head of the Golden One bowed slowly, and they stood still before us, their arms at their sides, the palms of their hands turned to us, as if their body were delivered in submission to our eyes."

These are two examples where Anthem uses Imagery. I think this is one of the most powerful tools for a writer because he is imprinting a vivid picture in the reader's mind. It also helps the reader understand and creates clarity. It's one of my favorites and I am glad Ayn Rand used this technique.

Moving on, there are many metaphors in Anthem. All of the "names" given to the characters are metaphors. Equality: Represents the idea that all brothers are the same, no individuals, however Equality 7-2521 never finds the equality and that shows the idea of there never being equality in the real world. Another example is liberty which represents hope, love, and happiness. Or the electric box where it represents ideas and change. The idea that their lives have no meaning is represented in the mundane view: clothing is plain, no colors, and same thing day after day after day. More than being a key to the plot development, Equality 7-2521's rediscovery of electricity epitomizes Rand's belief in individual human potential.  The box symbolizes the modern ideals of The Unconquered and The Golden One-individuality, the power of human reason, and the betterment of society through pure science instead of social planning.  In humanistic, enlightenment terms, Equality 7-2521 describes this power of electricity (and the power of individual ability): "There are no limits to its secrets and its might, and it can be made to grant us anything if we but chose to ask.

Following  I think that the most special metaphor that Rand uses is when Equality 7-2521 is watching Liberty 5-3000 plant the seeds in the field. He says, “The earth was a beggar under their feet.” meaning that she was so special and so beautiful that even the ground would beg to have her walk on it.  She is different like him and he knows this as soon as he sees her.  

Particularly I also think the central metaphor in Rand's book is the anthem to the self.  Throughout Anthem, Rand associates the corrupt ideology of the collectivists with religion.  For example, she describes the daily City Council meetings in terms of church services.  Even the word Anthem itself has a religious connotation.  Rand consciously chose to describe her story using traditional religious images, hoping to replace God with an exalted view of man.  Indeed, her anthem is to the individual human being who realizes his glorified state of existence and uses it to his own advantage.

Perusing this further, Ayn Rand uses many similes. One example being: "Women work in the fields, and their white tunics in the wind are like the wings of sea-gulls beating over the black soil".

Another figure of speech used is personification: "We blew out the candle. Darkness swallowed us". Rand writes the story in third-person to magnify the loss of the word "I"--a concept that the main character unknowingly seeks throughout the entire novel. By using third-person Rand creates a mood of collectivism without individualism which is important to the meaning behind her philosophy. Another technique used in the telling of the story is the fact that it is written in journal form which adds to the unique individuality and intellectualism reflected by the main character Equality. Additionally he uses to describe the Council of Vocations, for example, "Their hair was white and their faces were cracked as the day of a dry river bed." This is a good use of personification because in their society everybody is one, and the councils are generalized to demonstrate the unity and lack of individualism.

Finally one of the last figurative languages I have seen so far is repetition.

"We do not care. We forget all men, all laws and all things save our metals and our wires. So much is still to be learned! So long a road lies before us, and what care we if we must travel it alone!"
       Repetition is an idea that should stand out, and the repetition in these sentences is of "we". This repetition makes the part of the text powerful, and a quote that pop out. In my point of the view the whole point of having repetition of the "we" in this passage is to accentuate that they are a group, that they are different. The effect of having this "we" is again positive because it shows why the whole point of "we" being used in this book.

“Then the Golden One moved away, even though no others were coming, and they moved, stepping back, as if they could not turn from us, their arms bent before them, as if they could not lower their hands.”

The repetition in this passage is different than the other one. The difference is that the author repeats the same thing using different words. Example is he says “going away” three times in different ways. If I have to see the deep meaning why the author did it like this, it is because he wants she want to show how Equality was so unhappy when she started going away from them. It’s quite clever to show the glom of the Equality when the Golden One leave them to just stand there. I think the effect the reader gets from reading this because it helps them understand what is happening since this book is quite complex.

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