In the dystopia of Anthem, Ayn Rand depicts how individuals are stripped of any sort of self identity. They only exist for the progress of the community. They only refer to each other and even oneself as only “We”. The word “I” does not even exist. Anything that could potentially allow a person to develop any sort of self identity is silenced. The story of Anthem follows the protagonist, Equality 7-2521, as he slowly begins to discover his own identity. As he begins to stray away from the confined thinking of “We”, he discovers himself as an “I” and valuing his own unique identity. How the society takes steps to prevent individuals from gaining individuality: Equality 7-2521 gets assigned the job of “street sweeper” just because it happened to be assigned to him by the Council of Vocation (explain who they are).
It only appears that he was chosen for no certain reason. He however, was hoping to be named a scholar which was considered a sin in the society because that wish contained self thought. That is why when Equality finds out about his job, he only seems outwardly happy. “We felt the chords of our neck grow tight as our heads rose higher to look upon the faces of the Council, and we were happy.
We knew we had been guilty, but now we had a way to atone for it.” () The society has conditioned him to be happy about whatever fate he receives. Therefore, eliminating the ability of self choice. Furthermore, Equality 7-2521 is taller than the others within the community (quote), physically symbolizing difference which is forbidden. So then making the intent of the Council making him a sweeper more prevalent and clear, to regulate Equality and attempting to put him in a position of non-threatening.
Equality showing signs of self motivation and knowledge would be praised in a capitalist society like the United States but is unacceptable when trying to regulate people. The Council of Vocation is threatened by Equality 7-2521 and decides to purposely make him a sweeper, therefore decreasing the chances of thinking and attempting to halt his self progress. Chapter two is when the reader first comes across the Uncharted Forest.
The forest used to be cities that were composed of people who lived in freedom, knowledge, and even technology like electricity. However, Equality 7-2521 only knows that the forest used to be home to the “Evil Ones” during the Unmentionable Times (Quote). People of the dystopian community are also told that there are wild beasts that inhabit the Uncharted Forest (quote?). This is one of the things the government tells the society to stop people from going into the forest. The government scares people because even though wild animals might live within the Uncharted Forest, they know that whoever enters would discover the personal freedom to explore and discover the natural world, and even find knowledge left behind by the “Evil Ones” before they were destroyed.
Equality finds an interest in the forest and grows curious. “As we look upon the Uncharted Forest far in the night, we think of the secrets of the Unmentionable Times. And we wonder how it came to pass that these secrets were lost to the world… The words of the Evil Ones… The words of the Unmentionable Times… What are the words which we have lost?” (48-49). The secret of the past that are held within the Uncharted Forest intrigues Equality. An individual intrusive thought that gives Equality the will to venture out and possibly discover words and knowledge that are forbidden by the Council. Once Equality escapes to the forest, his character individuality grows as he feels free to learn and discover. (Quote) His self individuality only grows after facing his doubts and fears, showing that the strength of one’s self is key to developing one’s individual self.
Equality eventual finds a house with books and learns of the Unmentionable Times. Even discovering the word “I”, (quote), revealing the moment where Equality comes to a clear sense of himself as an individual. Therefore, revealing the symbolism of the Uncharted Forest, everything that the Council and community rejects. That is only where Equality discovers full self of identity. Equality escapes the Scholars of Vocation who want to imprison him for possessing knowledge and discovering technology of the past. After running into the forest he falls asleep and wakes back up at the beginning of chapter eight. The symbolism arises when Equality is awaken by a ray of sunlight, just like the “light” of knowledge that awakened him from the pre-conditioned sleep that the rest of the community lived in. The reader sees that he is “awakened” in the very first line of the novel, “It is a sin to write this.
” Revealing to the reader that Equality already has some sort of developed uniqueness. The words that he writes in his journal is his only way to release his feelings. However, this is only the beginning of Equality starting to grow and discover the individuality of “I”.For at this point he still has some sort of obedience for the government because of the constant brainwashing the society entills.
The reader sees this when Equality is assigned his job as a sweeper but is outwardly happy (quote). This “ray of light” from the sun shows the contrast from chapter seven to the beginning of the novel. Which shows his ultimate character development from a “prisoner rebel” to “liberated”.