Anthem By Ayn Rand

Imagine a world where the individual has been repressed to the point that the
word "I" no longer exists. Now, as hellish as that sounds, imagine that you
are the only one who has the capability to break free from the iron fists that
are choking you and your brothers. This is the life of Equality 7-2521, the
principal character and narrator of Ayn Rand’s Anthem. Anthem takes place in
the dark ages of the future, in a totally collectivized world. This culture has
regressed to conditions reminiscent of Ancient Greece and the European Dark

Ages. In the midst of fear and subordination, one man stands alone. Equality

7-2521 is not like his brothers. He is able think, create and defy. This makes
him extremely dangerous. He holds the threat of change in his hands and his
government will stop at nothing to take it from him. Equality’s society
represses him because they are afraid of those that threaten the established
order. One major catalyst for change is intelligence. Equality displays evidence
of genius at a young age. "We, Equality 7-2521, were not happy...in the

Home of the Students. It was not that the learning was too hard for us. It
was...too easy" (Rand 16). In Equality’s society, it is evil to be different
from ones brothers, let alone to be better than they are. He is taught at an
early age to be ashamed of his intellectual superiority. "This is a sin, to be
born with a head which is too quick" (Rand 16). This device of suppression by
means of shame was used in an attempt to stifle geniuses and, hence, pacify his
society’s fear of change. As Equality grew, he confirmed their fears. During
his lifetime he made many revelations and discoveries. His most profound
breakthrough was his re-invention of electricity. "We, Equality 7-2521, have
discovered a new power of nature." (Rand 54). He produced a primitive light
bulb. He wanted to use his invention to better his world. To the misfortune of
his society, they loathed this new power. If they had accepted his ideas

Equality would have been "...the literal and figurative bringer of light" (Gladstein

43). Unfortunately for Equality, as well as his society, his discovery met
violent opposition and his brothers were not able to benefit from his
intelligence. Genius has historically been repressed. Geniuses of our past have
been ostracized, punished, and martyred for presenting ideas that eventually
bettered their societies. Equality is no different. "Equality 7-2521 is a
creator and inventor in the tradition of Galileo, Edison, and Einstein" (Gladstein

27). These real-life geniuses dared to violate their society’s norms and
eventually their ideas were accepted. Like in Equality’s fictional culture,
real-life societies have tended to ignore the ideas of solitary geniuses
(McDonald 2). His ideas were swept aside violently, and his society remained
unchanged. Self-interest leads to the defiance of unjust restrictions.

Equality’s government prohibits individual action. No one is allowed to do
anything on their own. "...There is no transgression blacker than to think or
do alone"(Rand 11). Equality’s defiance of his government’s laws set him
apart from his brothers. The condition of the Palace of Corrective Detention is
demonstrative of the unquestioning obedience of his brothers. "It is easy to
escape...there are no guards...There is no reason to have guards, for men have
never defied the Councils so far as to escape from whatever place they were
ordered to be" (Rand 73). Unlike his brothers, Equality had the individual
strength to disobey the laws of his government. By questioning authority he took
an interest in himself and was liberated. "The noblest human purpose is to
pursue enlightened self-interest and only those the follow that course can
emerge as...champions..." (McDonald 2). Equality’s government had tried to
contain him from day one. Authorities cannot control him because he has an
independent mind. "...This totally collectivized society has no power
[over]...the individual..."(Branden 112). His self-interest allows him to act
as independently as his surroundings would permit. Although he is enlightened by
his self-interest, he is never free from the shackles of guilt his society has
placed upon him. No matter how freethinking Equality is, his nature is still
shaped by his society (Kelly 1). However this guilt did not stop him from acting
independently and constantly challenging the laws of his culture. Creativity is
a main staple needed in order for change to take place. Equality has somehow
been able to escape the suppression of creativity that is so deeply ingrained in
his culture. Equality is not the only person who is able to transgress in order
to create. One