CliffsNotes Rand's Anthem

By Andrew Bernstein | Go to book overview

Chapter 1

Summary

As the story opens, Equality 7–2521 states that it is a sin to do the writing he is doing. It is a sin to do things that do not involve others, and the words he thinks and writes are for no eyes or ears but his. This is not his only crime. He has committed one far worse and does not know what his punishment will be if discovered.

One day, as he sweeps the streets with International 4–8818, they find an iron grill buried beneath the weeds and papers blown from the nearby theatre. When they pull at it, the earth falls in and they find a series of steps leading into the darkness below. Equality 7–2521, though frightened, descends. He finds an abandoned tunnel, which he immediately realizes is a remnant of the Unmentionable Times, the ancient, evil period prior to the establishment of the current collectivist state. Though it is unthinkable, Equality 7–2521 tells International 4–8818 that they will not report the tunnel to the Council; rather, it belongs to him.

Each night after that, when his brothers sit in the darkened theatre watching plays about the virtue of toil, Equality 7–2521 steals away to his secret tunnel. There, hidden beneath the ground, he has three hours in which he does scientific research and performs experiments. He also steals manuscripts from the Scholars, and every night he studies. This activity goes on for two years.


Commentary

Equality 7–2521 is a freethinker living in a slave state. The state requires blind obedience to its decrees, which he refuses to render. He will not sacrifice his mind to the state’s commands, the essence of the story’s conflict. In Anthem, Ayn Rand shows the full reality of the ideals held by the Communists, Fascists, and their intellectual supporters. The underlying principle is collectivism: Society is paramount, and the individual must be subordinated to its dictates. Collectivists hold that an individual exists solely to serve the state and has no “inalienable

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CliffsNotes Rand's Anthem
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page *
  • Table of Contents iii
  • How to Use This Book vi
  • Life and Background of the Author 1
  • Introduction to the Novel 5
  • Critical Commentaries 16
  • Chapter 1 17
  • Chapter 2 22
  • Chapter 3 26
  • Chapter 4 28
  • Chapter 5 30
  • Chapter 6 32
  • Chapter 7 34
  • Chapter 8 37
  • Chapter 9 39
  • Chapter 10 42
  • Chapter 11 44
  • Chapter 12 50
  • Character Analyses 56
  • Critical Essays 64
  • CliffsNotes Review 77
  • CliffsNotes Resource Center 81
  • Index 84
  • Ayn Rand Essay Contests 88
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