The Role Of Individualism In Anthem By Ayn Rand

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“The greatest crimes in the world are not committed by people breaking the rules but by people following the rules. It's people who follow orders that drop bombs and massacre villages.” -- Banksy, Wall and Piece. A society cannot function without a system of rules to create order and morality. However, the creators of the nameless, collectivist community in Anthem took this concept too far with the complete removal of individualism—the root of ego. This mistake removed the thoughts and actions of individuals, which is what allows a society to flourish. While the city in Ayn Rand’s novella uses a complex system of laws and government controls in hope of suppressing ego, they ultimately fail due to the fact that there will always be someone whose…show more content…
To begin, all parts of daily societal life are closely monitored and controlled by the Council. For example, during Equality’s fifteen years in the Home of the Students, which is a requirement all men must fulfill before being sent to work, “... we arose when the big bell rang in the tower and we went to our beds when it rang again” (20-21). Through controlling when citizens start and finish their daily tasks from birth, along with deciding how long they must attend school, the society has conditioned its citizens into knowing nothing else but what has been repeated daily for the majority of their lives, thus leading the people to believe that no change to daily life is essential. Second, the Council of Vocations (22) assigns Students the occupation that they will carry out for the remainder of their lives, because the Council: “knows in its great wisdom where you are needed by your brother men, better than you can know it in your unworthy little minds” (22). “If the Council said "Carpenter" or "Cook," the Students so assigned go to work and do not study any further. But if the Council has said "Leader," then those students go into the Home of the Leaders… And there they study for many years, so that they may become candidates and be elected to the City Council and the State Council and the World Council” (25). Since this select power allows the…show more content…
From when Equality begins to commit transgressions, ranging from stealing candles and manuscripts to being alone, he finally feels that, “in our heart there is the first peace we have known in twenty years” (37). Equality’s peace exhibits that fact that even though he has committed numerous transgressions, he is not at odds with himself because he is doing what he personally wants to do, under his own power and will--not stemming from the will of his brothers. The concept of Equality and his individuality continually appears throughout the story, but is clearly evident when he, “wish[es] it were possible to us to know the likeness of our own person” (62). Equality realizing that he strives to know what he looks like pushes him farther from his brothers and their ideals of collectivism and signifies the next step on his journey to discovering the true value of individuality. Finally, at the conclusion of the story, Equality decides that his, “home will become the capital of a world where each man will be free to exist for his own sake.” For one to exist for themselves, by their own wishes and desires, they must first free themselves from the suffocating ideals of collectivism. For the society that Equality envisions creating, instating rules that would limit the
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