by: Ayn Rand

Chapter IX


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.