Saturday, October 18, 2014

Historical Context - Gabriela Campos

Gabriela Campos
Rotation #2
Historical Context
Parts 3 & 4

Why was this book controversial?  Which themes or ideas were challenging to society?

There are so many factors which contribute to the idea that the book "Anthem" by Ayn Rand, is controversial. Firstly, the socialist society the novel takes place in, where no one has a specific name, but a group they must go to, work with and acquire such group's name. For example, our protagonist is named Equality 7 -2521, yet we as readers do not know how many men are in this group and how many are narrating the tale. This can be proved as the narrator refers to himself as "we". The society our protagonist lives in took away individuality completely.

Another factor that contributes to the idea of the book being controversial is the Dystopian setting, which according to Wikipedia, "[...] is a community or society that is in some important way undesirable or frightening". The Dystopian setting, as Megan Thomason said, is controversial to some, since the majority of people imagine our future to be Utopian, which happens to be the opposite of Dystopian.

In Rand's novel, one can also see how freedom is practically non-existent. Men can only see women during the breeding months, where they are assigned to one and then they reproduce to keep the population growing. Human beings cannot leave the city they live in or else they "never come back" and they cannot have views that are different from the leaders of their society's. The so-called city seems more like a prison. A person in this society does not have a name for themselves, either, they have a name for a group of people where "everyone is the same or similar" (SparkNotes). They are not allowed to think about when things were different, not allowed to love...

Those who live in the society Rand speaks of in her novel aren't allowed to live, they merely exist. The line of difference is quite fine between these two verbs, but it exists. The verb "live" as one can see in the Merriam Webster Dictionary, can mean a variety of things, one of them being "to have an exciting or fulfilling life". The verb "exist" however merely means "to have objective reality or being". The characters in this book will never be able to tell stories to their kids, know who their kids are, sneak out to meet the one they love, etc. They have no stories to tell about their life and like Steven Moffat once said, "We're all stories, in the end.", but if one has no story to tell, in the end, they're nothing but a pile of ash being blown away by the wind. Life is made up of moments, moments become stories, stories that live forever. 

So after all, is "Anthem" controversial? Indeed it is, but it also sends out a message, a message that teaches us to live, instead of just exist.

1 comment:

  1. Gabi,

    Your post is really great and well developed. I love the way you answer the question, and dig into your response. The way you got to uncover the message the book is trying to convey to the readers. It is so good that you have all the reasoning to sustain your point of view, and still have something I wouldn't have thought of that easily. I've got this question to you. Do you think that this theme/message you came up with, saying it is what the book transmits to the readers, has anything to do with taking risks? Keep up the great work!