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Anthem | Study Guide

Ayn Rand

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Anthem | Quotes


It is a sin to write this.

Equality 7-2521, Chapter 1

This first sentence is immediately arresting and makes the reader want to know more. What is Equality 7-2521 writing that is such a sin? Soon Rand immerses the reader in a world in which not only is the content of Equality 7-2521's writing unlawful, but also is the mere fact that he engages in it—and that he does it alone.


None among men may be alone ... for this is ... the root of all evil.

Equality 7-2521, Chapter 1

The ruling council of the collective has convinced its people that being alone is the worst sin a person can commit. The council maintains its power by discouraging free thought and individuality.


Rather shall we be evil with you than good with all our brothers.

International 4-8818, Chapter 1

Here International 4-8818 is guilty of the Transgression of Preference because he is holding Equality 7-2521 above everyone else. This shows that International 4-8818's spirit has not yet been "killed" by the collective. Equality 7-2521 immediately thinks of him later when he declares that he will build a new society of free-thinking individuals.


Your eyes ... are not like the eyes of any among men.

Liberty 5-3000, Chapter 2

Rand is once again highlighting the uniqueness and individuality of Equality 7-2521. Liberty 5-3000 also has rebel characteristics, and she recognizes a kindred spirit in Equality 7-2521.


We ... are glad to be living. If this is a vice, then we wish no virtue.

Equality 7-2521, Chapter 2

Although his collective society has convinced him that his natural thoughts and actions are vices, Equality 7-2521 does not wish death for himself as punishment. He inherently understands that his society is wrong about a great many things.


Let us flood our cities with light. Let us bring a new light to men!

Equality 7-2521, Chapter 7

Equality 7-2521 is talking about literally bringing a better source of light to mankind, as electricity can do more than candlelight. But he is also figuratively suggesting a revolution and a new way of life for his society.


What is not done collectively cannot be good.

International 1-5537, Chapter 7

This is the general motto for the collectivistic society. Any ideas brought up by an individual must be approved by all members of the collective, or they are unworthy of the collective because all do not agree. Equality 7-2521 recognizes this as backward and dangerous thinking that stifles innovation and chains their minds "to the weakest and dullest among them."


The candle is ... approved by all men ... it cannot be destroyed by the whim of one.

Harmony 9-2642, Chapter 7

Harmony 9-2642's declaration follows the thought of his comrade International 1-5537. His nonsensical reason for rejecting Equality 7-2521's electrical invention is that candles would be adversely affected. This underscores Rand's theme of the ineptitude of evil.


We lived not, when we toiled for our brothers, we were only weary.

Equality 7-2521, Chapter 9

Equality 7-2521 speaks to the absence of quality of life when one cannot pursue one's own interests and pleasures. In his collective society a man's only purpose is to serve his fellow men, and thus individual pursuits are outlawed. But when one's energy is spent only on others, the individual spirit suffers and one merely survives a life without joy.


I am. I think. I will.

Equality 7-2521, Chapter 11

Having finally learned the word "I," Equality 7-2521 makes this powerful statement about his individuality. He exists (I am) as a person with a sacred mind (I think), and he can choose what he will.


This is the end of the quest ... I am the meaning.

Equality 7-2521, Chapter 11

Since his birth Equality 7-2521 has known he is different and does not fit into the mold of his collective society. He thirsts for knowledge, both external and internal. Here he realizes his life quest has always been to find meaning in his existence. He never quite believed that he was meant to live only to serve his fellow men. Now he knows that his meaning comes from himself. He creates his own happiness.


I am done with ... "We," the word of serfdom, of plunder, of misery, falsehood and shame.

Equality 7-2521, Chapter 11

Equality 7-2521 understands that his evil collective society hid the word "I" from them. The rulers wanted to prevent individual thought and identity, so that no one would question their legitimacy as rulers. By forcing all to buy into the idea of belonging only to a "we" instead of an "I," the people are willing to sacrifice their individual needs for the needs of the collective.


I and ... my fellow-builders ... shall write the first chapter in the new history of man.

Equality 7-2521, Chapter 12

Equality 7-2521's plan is to eventually spread his knowledge of the rights of the individual to all people still in captivity of the collective. Evil shall be defeated and a new age of enlightenment can begin.


There is nothing to take a man's freedom away from him, save other men.

Equality 7-2521, Chapter 12

This is Equality 7-2521's one limit to individual freedom: no man should be free to take the freedom of another. If all men practice this ideal, then true freedom can reign.


Through all the darkness ... the spirit of man will remain alive on this earth.

Equality 7-2521, Chapter 12

This quote shows Equality 7-2521's faith in the spirit of man. He himself is an example of this spirit. Despite growing up in a society that oppressed his individuality, the spark of freedom inherent in every soul grew into a flame and then a roaring fire. It now allows him to lead the way to an ideal way of life.

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