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Anthem

Ayn Rand

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full title ·  Anthem

author · Ayn Rand

type of work · Novella

genre · Dystopia; manifesto

language · English

time and place written · The United States, 1937

date of first publication · British edition, 1938; American edition, 1946

publisher · Signet

narrator · Equality 7-2521 writes the journal of the events as they transpire over the course of several months.

point of view · Equality 7-2521 speaks in the first person, writing in his journal as the events transpire. He relates some of the conversations verbatim, and other events he describes only from his own perspective. He occasionally remarks on what other characters are thinking.

tone · Equality 7-2521 records his thoughts and actions in a straightforward manner, with no trace of irony.

tense · Present, with some past-tense narration

setting (time) · In the future, after the collapse of the social order because of the common acceptance of collectivist values

setting (place) · An unidentified city; much of the first half of Anthem is narrated from a tunnel underground where Equality 7-2521 is hiding, and the second half is narrated from a forest where he has taken refuge from a society that hates him.

protagonist · Equality 7-2521

major conflict · Equality 7-2521 struggles for self-identification in a society that has rejected individualism in favor of collectivism.

rising action · Equality 7-2521 discovers a tunnel in which he begins hiding regularly to conduct scientific experiments; he invents the lightbulb; he decides to share his invention with the World Council of Scholars, even though he knows the way he came to discover electricity is illegal and sinful.

climax · Equality 7-2521’s presentation of the lightbulb to the World Council permanently severs him from society and forces him out onto his own.

falling action · Equality 7-2521 and the Golden One pursue their own lives together in the forest; they discover the meaning of individualism and the word “I.”

themes · The primacy of the individual; the value of martyrdom; the impotence of the collective; original creation as a component of identity

motifs · Fear; naming; shapelessness

symbols · Light; the forest; manuscripts

foreshadowing · The death of the Transgressor of the Unspeakable Word foreshadows the torture and exile of Equality 7-2521 and his ultimate epiphany upon discovering the word “I”; Equality 7-2521’s growing obsession with the Uncharted Forest foreshadows his exile there; Equality 7-2521’s torture at the hands of the Home Council foreshadows his exile by the World Council; The Golden One’s attempts to say “I love you” foreshadow the epiphany of her discovery of the word “I.”

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