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Analyze Ayn Rand’s use of darkness and light in Anthem.  I really need help!...

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bob3736 | Student, Grade 10 | eNotes Newbie

Posted February 2, 2011 at 5:35 AM via web

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Analyze Ayn Rand’s use of darkness and light in Anthem.


I really need help! It doesn't have to be a whole essay but something.

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mitchrich4199 | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Associate Educator

Posted February 2, 2011 at 6:21 AM (Answer #1)

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There are a lot of interesting angles that you could take with light and darkness in this book. To start, Equality 7-2521 is enveloped in darkness. The tone of the novel is dark, both figuratively and physically. For instance, the third paragraph starts with the sentence, "It is dark here. The flame of the candle stands still in the air." As we move through the book, we find out that Equality 7-2521 is in a tunnel which is from the Unmentionable Times. He has found this tunnel with International 4-8188, his street sweeping partner. Ironically, this dark tunnel is where Equality 7-2521 develops his knowledge of light and electricity, which causes him to eventually run away from the society in which he lives.

Symbolically, darkness usually illustrates ignorance and light, knowledge. In the case of Anthem, Equality 7-2521 goes to the darkest place, an unlit tunnel, and discovers light. This light leads him to knowledge in the form of electricity and eventually causes him to escape to freedom, allowing him to learn as much as he wishes.

Equality 7-2521 and The Golden One rename themselves Prometheus and Gaea, respectively. Prometheus "took the light of the gods and he brought it to men, and he taught men to be gods." Prometheus plans to go and get some of the men that he left behind to teach them about what he has learned. Further, he and Gaea have found a house at the top of a mountain with a ton of windows and books. In Chapter XI, Prometheus says, "I stand here on the summit of the mountain. I lift my head and I spread my arms. This, my body and spirit, this is the end of the quest...I am the meaning." He has found a place of ultimate light in the summit and he realizes that he is ultimate knowledge.

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amarang9 | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted February 3, 2011 at 2:20 AM (Answer #2)

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Initially, Equality 7-2521 must retreat to dark places in order to find knowledge. It is in the dark that he discovers electric light. Shortly before making this discovery, Equality 7-2521 renames Liberty 5-3000 “The Golden One.” Gold and electric light become the symbols of love and knowledge.

All traces of knowledge from “The Unmentionable Times” are hidden by the Council and buried under rubble. The Council has banished all the fruits of individual achievement in order to only promote social achievements. Those achievements, technology and abilities have been banished in memory (mentally) and in the practical world (physically). The automatons of this world are in the dark relative to all this knowledge. And that knowledge is hidden from them. Therefore, that knowledge is also in the dark. Fittingly, Equality 7-2521 must go to dark places in order to rediscover them.

Although he rediscovers knowledge in the dark, his main discovery is light. This is a literal and figurative theme. He sheds light on the world of all this forgotten knowledge by discovering actual light.

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