Sunday, October 19, 2014

Historical Context- Bianca Auriemo

What is the role of conformity and nonconformity in the novel, and how does this connect to the historical setting of the text?  

The book Anthem by Ayn Rand takes place in a dytopian society in which people are completely bound to do as they are told and any concept of individuality in nonexistent. The protagonist, however, Equality 7-2521, sees the world differently. He is keen to discover, and wishes to find out the secrets of humanity which are hidden to the people.
Since the very beginning, conformity was a major concept explored in the book. There are various points in which Equality 7-2521 mentions that he is doing something, that he will be punished, that he is defying the rules. However, his dream of discovering is greater than any threat pointed his way. He breaks various decrees in these first few chapters. At first, he goes to explore something that is hidden, he hides the information he has found from the government, and he goes to talk to Liberty 5-300. He then goes into this secret tunnel every night, to do research.
The protagonist is clearly not conforming to the chains that are his society. He does not care. In this world, men and women are not allowed to have any romantic relationship, yet he feels an attraction that he cannot explain towards Liberty 5-300, who he calls "The Golden One". The book at various points is Equality-2521 attempting to justify his actions and convincing not only himself, but the reader that there is no problem in standing up to the oppressive force holding you down.
In various ways, this is a reflection of Ayn Rand's personal point of view in individuality and communism. She is known to have published books that in many ways advertise a person's ego, and being unique. As she grew up in Soviet Russia, Rand was raised in a strictly communist regime. Self expression was limited, and anyone that had something more than the other was punished. Her own family suffered greatly due to this, as her father's chemist shop was shut down by the communists.  This deeply shaped her world views and resulted into many of her novels later published when living in the United States.
Many can see Anthem as a criticism to that form of society, as it has many similarities to the USSR, however exaggerated.  She is encouraging people to not to conform and to hold on to their individuality. It goes back to the concept of freedom versus equality. We must choose, if we want a society in which everyone is equal, then we must sacrifice much of our freedom of choice and uniqueness. Anthem takes that to the extreme, to the point which people have stopped referring to themselves as "I", adopting the form of "we".
Overall, the book is deeply critical towards conforming, and presents a protagonist who defies all barriers set by his society's regime in order to be himself.   

Doucet, Bradley. "The Life Of Ayn Rand." The Atlas Society. The Atlas Society, 2014. Web. 09 Oct. 2014. <>.


  1. Bianca,

    I agree with you that this book can be connected with communism in USSR but it can be considered as an exaggeration. Equality is one of the key concept of communism but the USSR didn't focus on this as much as the dystopian city in the book. Nobody in the USSR called one self "We" instead of "I." Do you think that you should never conform? In this post you conclude that the book is negative towards the idea of conforming. I don't think that this is always bad. Sometimes, you can agree with the authorities and you understand the laws, thus you conform to the city. Conforming can be a good thing. We are conforming to the Brazilian laws. We can see people that aren't conforming but nothing bad has happened to them; they haven't been executed. If this dystopian city is supposed to reflect communism, it is telling us that freedom is being restricted and it is all about collectivism and whoever dares defy these laws are to be punished. Do you think that the historical event influenced Ayn Rand's opinion on this? And, do you agree with the book's theme on not conforming and keeping your unique, special individuality?

  2. Bianca,

    I agree with most of what you said in your blog post, however I personally think that "Anthem" is set in a socialist society rather a communist one. This is due to the fact that in communism, all class distinctions are eliminated and in "Anthem", the name of the protagonist himself is his class and he has his job of sweeping the streets because of it. Not to mention that in communism, everyone is considered equal and Equality 7-2521 mentions at the beginning of the book that he/they are punished because they are taller than the others. How can they all be equal, if the protagonist of the story receives harder labour than the others?