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Anthem

Ayn Rand

Chapter IX

Chapter VIII

Chapters X–XI

Summary

Several days later, Equality 7-2521 begins writing in his journal for the first time since he entered the Uncharted Forest. As he is walking through the forest, Equality 7-2521 hears footsteps behind him and discovers that the Golden One has followed him into the forest. He asks her how she came to be in the forest, and she answers, swaying with her fists at her side, only that she has found him. He asks her again, and she tells him that she has followed him because she heard talk all over the city of his encounter with the World Council of Scholars and his fleeing into the Uncharted Forest.

The Golden One is tattered from the journey through the forest, but she is not weary or afraid. She tells Equality 7-2521 she wants to share in his damnation and to follow him wherever he goes. Her voice is bitter and triumphant as she tells him that he is harder, prouder, and more beautiful than her brothers. She begs him to do what he will with her but not to send her away, and she bows in front of him. He raises her to her feet and kisses her, amazed by the very idea of kissing. They stand together for a long time.

Equality 7-2521 tells the Golden One that there is nothing to fear in the forest or in their solitude, and he suggests that they forget their brothers and remember only that they are together and have joy between them. He declares the world their own, and they walk through the forest hand in hand. That night they have sex, and Equality 7-2521 realizes that sex is the only ecstasy in a man’s life.

Equality 7-2521 and the Golden One walk for several days together and make bows and arrows to kill birds. At night, they sleep in a ring of campfires, to keep out the beasts. They plan to stop and build a house some day, and they see their days together as endless. When Equality 7-2521 begins to be puzzled by his new life, he hurries ahead and forgets his troubles as he watches the Golden One following him. She is completely obedient to him and does not question him about anything.

For the first time in his life, Equality 7-2521 begins to doubt the laws he was taught by the society in which he lived. He questions how it can be that everything that is solitude is evil when he and the Golden One are pursuing solitude in such happiness. He observes that the only things that have ever given him joy in his life are the lightbulb and the Golden One, neither of which has anything to do with his brothers. He concludes that both these joys come from himself alone. He also begins to suspect that there is some error in the way he has been thinking up to this point, that there is some word that is missing from his vocabulary, but he does not know what it is.

The Golden One tries to tell Equality 7-2521 that she loves him, but she does not know how to say the word “I.” She tells him that “[w]e love you,” but she is not satisfied with this articulation of her feelings, and she gropes for something more personal but does not know how to express it. The moment leaves both of them feeling confused.

Analysis

Feminists are troubled by Rand’s view of women, especially by the Golden One’s subservience to Equality 7-2521 and her inherent inability to create solutions to her intellectual puzzles without the help of Equality 7-2521. They note that the Golden One is never appreciated for her own worth but instead is worshipped as an object, that even her name is somewhat insulting in that it characterizes her by the color of her hair, and that she has virtually no part in the story except as the thing that Equality 7-2521 adores. Rand might answer that when the Golden One bows in front of Equality 7-2521, she is merely acknowledging the perfection in him and offering him herself as equally perfect. After all, she would say, Equality 7-2521 is drawn to her as much as she is drawn to him, and her fleeing society to chase him into the forest represents as great a break with society as his confrontation with the World Council of Scholars. Moreover, Rand might say, the Golden One suspects at the same time that Equality 7-2521 does that the lack of the word “I” is a major problem. Nevertheless, feminists are not satisfied with the continuous emphasis on the Golden One’s dependence on Equality 7-2521 and her constantly following him while he offers her no reciprocal form of trust. They argue that Equality 7-2521’s observation that the lightbulb and the Golden One both spring from himself belittles the Golden One, who is, after all, not the actual invention of Equality 7-2521. Rand might respond that she is merely mimicking the biblical story of Adam and Eve, in which Eve springs from Adam’s rib and is, in a certain sense, an extension of her husband.

Rand presents several ways of testing the world around us in Anthem, and ultimately she concludes that the best way to make determinations about the world is to test them against our own inner reactions. As Equality 7-2521 begins to doubt his society for the first time, he engages in a kind of thought process previously foreign to him in that he begins to compare what he is discovering of the world to what he has been taught of it. Notably, the way that Equality 7-2521 uncovers truths about the world is very different from the way he proceeds earlier with his scientific experiments. In his experiments, he proceeds like a good scientist, tinkering and tooling until his lightbulb works, and testing and retesting, while isolating factors, to discover electricity. When investigating facts about the world, however, Equality 7-2521 proceeds largely by instinct, so that he is called by his heart to discover that there is some word missing from his vocabulary, but he does not have an experiment to perform to determine what it is. Likewise, when he is trying to discover what makes him happy, he proceeds chiefly through induction, observing which things make him happy and determining where those things come from, in order to determine how happiness comes to be. To determine what is true about human nature, he must act as his own instrument.

Anthem’s extensive foreshadowing gives away many of the secrets of the story before Rand reveals them. The Golden One’s attempt to say “I love you,” for example, is one of several events that foreshadow the massive revelation, at the end of Anthem, that the individual is the center of the universe. The Transgressor of the Unspeakable Word’s death in Chapter II, before which he specifically seeks out Equality 7-2521 as he burns in the town square, also presages the coming realization that what Equality 7-2521 has been missing is the word “I.” Most obvious, the language of the entire novella, which uses the first person plural “we” to refer to the individual is a major clue that the resolution of the story’s conflict involves a shift in the language. Indeed, taken as a whole, these clues leave very little suspense in Anthem. It is fairly clear from the outset and at every step of the way that Rand is leading us to an ego-centered world. The lack of suspense, however, which reinforces the idea that Anthem is more political manifesto than fiction, allows Rand to drive her point home time and again without making us wonder where she is headed.

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