Anthem

by: Ayn Rand

Important Quotations Explained

1. There was no pain in their eyes and no knowledge of the agony of their body. There was only joy in them, and pride, a pride holier than it is fit for human pride to be.

While he watches the Transgressor of the Unspeakable Word burn at the stake in Chapter II, Equality 7-2521 makes this observation about the Transgressor’s stoicism. The word the Transgressor has spoken is “I,” a concept forbidden in the society because everyone must work for the good of his or her brothers and any thought that occurs in private is necessarily evil. The Transgressor does not believe in collectivism, and he finds Equality 7-2521 in the crowd and locks eyes with him while he dies, a moment that Equality 7-2521 concludes marks him and destines him to start a new race of men who are individuals. It is the same kind of stoicism that Equality 7-2521 himself demonstrates when he is incarcerated and beaten at the Palace of Corrective Detention for refusing to tell the council about his tunnel when he returns late to the Home of the Street Sweepers.

Equality 7-2521’s observation about the peaceful and even euphoric nature of the Transgressor of the Unspoken Word’s death relates closely to Rand’s belief that humans do not feel bodily pain when they suffer for the sake of an ideal. Rand’s heroes do not feel fear or remorse about their social sins when they are committed in the name of a higher good, namely, the individual. Indeed, for Rand, any action grounded in the individual’s sense of self is admirable. The Transgressor is the only character in Anthem, other than Equality 7-2521 and the Golden One, who demonstrates a sense of self-worth and a willingness to suffer for his autonomy and who thus rises above the constraints of his society.


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