Anthem by Ayn Rand
One of the classic dystopian novels, that focuses on the individual breaking from the pattern of a structured society that allows no room for change. The story is so well known and an inspiration for so many current dystopian young adult fictions. The shortness of the number of pages is deceptive in how deep the story can develop. Equality 7-2521 tells you of his childhood and walks you through his transformation from a “we” that goes through the motions in a society that is all about the toil for other men to an individual who makes his own way in the world.
You can see how Anthem impacted so many current young adult dystopian novels and trilogies. For example, Divergent (no mirrors) and everyone fits into a set group and you cannot change what fate has been decided for you. Many dystopian novel or trilogy has roots in this classic and readers of current young adult fiction will find enjoyment in reading this book.
The symbolism in the book runs deep and it is easily understood why it is required reading for so many high schools and college level English courses.
Character List/Book Summary:
Equality 7-2521 = main character, develops from a “we” to an “I” over the course of the novel, is 6′ tall, wears his ID on an iron bracelet on his wrist, considered cursed because he is taller than his brothers, has preferences about what he wants to do and a female he likes, becomes a Street Sweeper after leaving the Home of Students. After he realizes that he is different and the Counsel punishes him for knowledge he runs away from the city and into the Uncharted Forest.
Teachers = told Equality 7-2521 it is evil to be superior from their brothers, beat him in school
Leaders = City Council, State Council, and World Council
World Council = body of all truth, reside at Palace of the World Council, there is a quote on their building about how there is no individual just the collective we. **Interesting that each building that houses leaders is called a Palace***
Great Rebirth = if you speak of times before this you are sentenced to 3 years in the Palace of Corrective
Old Ones = age 40 or older, you live in the Home of the Useless **They do not live in a Palace but a Home, because they cannot toil, such symbolism**
Great Truth = all men are one and that there is no will save the will of all men together **the theme and why Equality 7-2521 “sins” and gets in trouble, because he thinks as an individual**
Home of Infants = all children live there in white walled rooms that sleep 100 until they are 100 **again you are not toiling for society so you are in a home**
Home of Students = children go to school and live there for 10 years moving to different wards each year
Union 5-3992 = pale boy with half a brain, works with Equality 7-2521 as a Street Sweeper
Council of Vocations = this group tells 15 year olds what they will be doing for the rest of their lives once they leave Home of Students, you cannot change and you cannot argue with the decision they make
City Council = speaks for all men
International 4-8818 = Street Sweeper that works in the same brigade as Equality 7-2521 and Union 5-3992, drew pictures with coal that make people laugh, was punished for it since only those designated as artists can draw pictures
Liberty 5-300 = female, Equity 7-2521 likes her, he thinks of her as The Golden One, she calls him The Unconquered, follows him into the Uncharted Forest
Council of Eugenics = resides at the Palace of Mating, assigns men and women to each other once every Spring for children to be born in Winter
Solidarity 9-6347 = screams Help Us! Help Us! in his sleep, doctors cannot cure him
Fraternity 2-5503 = quiet boy who cries suddenly without reason and his body shakes
Unspeakable Word = the only crime punishable by death is saying this word
Collective 0-0009 = oldest and wisest of the Council of Scholars, Equality 7-2521 tells the Council about his knowledge **notice the names equality, collective, fraternity, union, liberty, solidarity, democracy the symbolism in the name to focus on the whole of society instead of any thoughts of self or being an individual**
Fraternity 9-3452 = member of the Council of Scholars who hears Equality 7-2521
Democracy 4-6998 = member of the Council of Scholars who hears Equality 7-2521, recommends burning the knowledge
Unanimity 7-3304 = member of the Council of Scholars who hears Equality 7-2521, recommends lashing Equality 7-2521
International 1-5537 = member of the Council of Scholars who hears Equality 7-2521, says what he accomplished alone cannot be good, all good accomplishments are done as a group
Solidarity 8-1164 = member of the Council of Scholars who hears Equality 7-2521, says ideas must be abandoned if majority of the group doesn’t agree with them
Alliance 6-7349 = member of the Council of Scholars who hears Equality 7-2521
Harmony 9-2642 = member of the Council of Scholars who hears Equality 7-2521, focuses on how his discovery would make Council of Candles obsolete
Unanimity 2-9913 = member of the Council of Scholars who hears Equality 7-2521, focuses on how long it took to create Council of Candles and figure out how many candles are need, and change should not be made so soon after it was just figured out
Similarity 5-0306 = member of the Council of Scholars who hears Equality 7-2521, focuses on will have no cause to exist if not to toil for other men.
Interestingly, after reading this book I felt like it was a guide on how to create a cult. The mentality of everyone thinking of themselves as “we” and the mentality of keeping things the same was so well ingrained. It also shows how people who might see the ability to change or that things are not perfect with the group mentality go along because of how much trouble you get into.