|The Romanov, the last generation of the Soviet royal family|
1 & 2. What is the cultural and educational background of the author and how did this background influence the book? In what ways do the events in the books reveal evidence of the author’s world view? How did historical events influence the ideas in the novel? What cultural issues may have influenced, challenged, or inspired the author?
Ayn Rand was born in 1902, in the Soviet Union, a nation that was currently living under a Tsarist Monarchy. In 1917 a small group of governmental authorities overthrew the Tsar and their family from their throne, and this group would later implant communism in the country. The author, being born at this time, clearly experienced communism at its worst point and wrote this book in order to challenge the idealism concepts of Karl Marx. Again, this is another great act of bravery just like Alexander Solzhenitsyn did when he released A Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich while the country was still under communist rule. This could have caused him to be executed from denouncing the gulags to the world, and Ayn could've also been killed for challenging the form of government, only giving more abstract examples, creating this world of which we are reading about. For apparent reasons, Anthem shows the opinions of the author against communism, as the reality depicted in the novel is a form of this type of government that went right, but is about to collapse, as there is this one citizen, Equality, who seems to be different from other people and is now expressing his opinion and sharing his thoughts as an individual. Inferring upon this fact, I think that a revolution could take place here and this world would soon start to experience change as soon as the people take consciousness of the type of life they are living in. It seems as if the author predicted that communism wouldn't go right in the future of its nation while writing this, as it is showing in the book the most likely collapse of this "perfect" communist society. Here, people function as robots and do not have the literal right to think as an individual or they would be executed. Without new visions and thoughts, society cannot progress as a whole. Ideas generated by individuals themselves can contribute to the success of a group, but communism has no change, leaving people in the miserable conditions they would be living under this "philosophy". As an example of the lack of voice people have in a communism is how a great number of people in Cuba want to escape to the Florida, searching for new opportunities and better conditions of life in America. In contrast, there is basically no one in the United States that wants to leave their country and start a new life in Cuba. Answering the question(s), Ayn Rand was inspired by her own thoughts and opinions regarding her life experiences of which communism was present.
|Image representing individualism|
3. Why was this book controversial? Which themes or ideas were challenging to society?
This book is controversial because it challenges the idea of lack of freedom of expression or will and the concept of living in a restricted way of life. As you can see by the book, people have zero expression of their wanting towards things, as they have no sense of singularity, making them have no particular, personal emotions, opinions, or voice. This is absolutely against the nature of the human being. We are individual beings, with individual thoughts and diverse traits and cannot act working as a "perfect group". This fact is due to the "selfishness" of the humans and animals overall. To be honest, we mostly care for our well-being and won't risk it in sake of any person within society. People who do such things to others are called heroes, people who create a great impact on a certain group of people because of their good actions. However, not everyone is a hero, as is quite rare for one to appear. Another exception would be someone who risks their well-being to do something for a person of which they have a very strong relationship with. Furthermore, these concepts relates to the idea of communism directly. In this "philosophy" people are restricted to have their own voice and, as the form of government states, it benefits only the good state of the public and not of individual beings. As it appears, these people want to control society with an iron fist, not letting the people to have their freedom of expression, the liberty to move from one place to another, and the progression of social class, relating to the type of government present in the novel. Emphasizing what I said before, this is against the human nature and doesn't benefit anyone overall. A person wants to earn more money and gain more comfort in their daily lives by rising their social status, as it is what motivates them to work hard in their lives. She wants the right to express their opinion, thoughts, and voice, but here, communism just takes it all of this away, leaving none of these rights to the people. The people want freedom, which is simply the opposite of communism. It seems as the only one benefitted through this is the minority of the government officials. One of the most important causes of why the Soviet Union didn't succeeded with this type of government is because there comes a time where people cannot contain themselves or conform with their lives anymore with all the restrictions the communists ended up implanting in the nation. In the opposite side, China is still ruled by a communist party, but they adopted the free market and all the people have the freedom of expression and to take trips and make their own business. Nowadays, China is the 2nd greatest economy of the world, which is going to probably reach the first place in a few years. All in all, the main reason why this book was banned was because it challenged the past government of the Soviet nation, banning it for people not to be informed of what communism could lead them to.
|Image symbolizing communism|
4. Which ideas in your novel are connected to its particular setting, and which ideas are still relevant today?
To begin with, I would like to answer the first "sub-question" (Which ideas in your novel are connected to its particular setting?) in a more simple way, as I would like to focus on its second part more. The ideas of the novel are connected to its setting because the ideals of communism that stand out from the book are applied to its form of government present in this fictional society. Moving on, regarding which ideas are still relevant today, just this last week I was talking to a friend of mine, who claimed to say he'd love to live in a communist country. After some time of debating, I was able to change his mind on the topic. Nevertheless, in spite most of the world being democratic nowadays, I still know some people who believe in Marx's ideals, proving that there are still people trying to imply this way of government in the nations. For instance, take a look at the following Brazilian political parties: PSTU, PSOL, PCB, and PCO. All of these follow the communist "philosophy", or, in other words, "the estate is the owner of all economic activities", which is probably the main reason why these people want this form of government: for power. The other people who do support it, are just simply ignorant, in my opinion, and are unaware of the lifestyle of a person that lives inside such a country that lives in this regime. Today, countries such as North Korea and Cuba are still living under a communist government rule, showing that the philosophy is not dead yet, remains in the world, and has a considerably large amount of supporters. Nevertheless, I can assure you that it won't last for much longer, as it is impossible to achieve the true ideal of communism, as we are individuals, have our own opinions and thoughts, and can't conform with everything in the world because as a result, we would have no progress as people or as a whole.
|Image representing conformity|
5. What is the role of conformity and nonconformity in the novel, and how does this connect to the historical setting of the text?
In the novel, we can clearly see how much conformity or nonconformity impacts the outcome of things. I recall from the first passages of the book the mentioning that when a person said the word "I", she would be executed. Therefore, in order to survive and maintain the order in the world, the people would need to conform with what is happening around them. This relates also to the last book I read, A Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich, that informs you completely of the state of Soviet Russia at the time. Joseph Stalin killed in between 20 and 60 million people that didn't agree with his regime, showing the lack of freedom and the consequence of not conforming in such a strict community. Another example is Fidel Castro, which used to shoot down any Cubans who did not conform with his way of governing. Overall, in order for the people to maintain their safety and the order, they always need to conform with what is happening. Otherwise, when the people really start requesting a change and it does not happen, a revolution takes place, of which the people enter war with the estate.