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What's the significance of character names and name-changes in Anthem, and how they...

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aubree70 | Student, Grade 10 | eNotes Newbie

Posted February 7, 2011 at 10:23 AM via web

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What's the significance of character names and name-changes in Anthem, and how they contribute to the novella's meaning?

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amarang9 | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted February 7, 2011 at 11:51 AM (Answer #1)

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All of the characters have names which convey unity and collectivity. This novella is a dystopia in which all forms of individuality have been purposefully erased or forgotten. Even the word “I” and the basic concept of one “self” have been lost. That’s why the narrator refers to himself as "we." And that’s also why everyone’s name is a symbol or adjective for a social concept: Liberty, Unity, International or Equality.

Equality 7-2521 begins to read, experiment and learn things by himself. When he learns the concept of individuality, he begins using “I.” He acquired the concepts of learning, creativity and individuality together.

In Greek mythology, Prometheus stole fire from the gods and gave it to mankind. This is an allegory for humanity acquiring knowledge. In a sense, learning to make fire was the beginning of humanity’s technology. This is fitting because Equality 7-2521 discovered electric light in his underground tunnel. He tried to share this knowledge with the Council but they rejected him. Likewise, Prometheus was punished by the Gods for sharing fire with humans.

Equality 7-2521 changed Liberty 5-3000’s name to Gaea (Gaia). Gaea was the mother of the gods. Equality 7-2521 (aka Prometheus) decided that their children would be brought up with knowledge and books. Gaea is pregnant by this time. The idea is that their children would have access to so much knowledge that they would be like gods compared to the brainwashed masses who cling to anti-individualism.

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tumbletable | Student , Grade 10 | eNotes Newbie

Posted May 12, 2011 at 9:55 AM (Answer #2)

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The names Ayn Rand gives her characters represent their roles in the story.  The name given to Equality 7-2521, for example, is significant in irony because he is not equal to his fellow men, but he is the leader of the new age.  The name of Collective 0-0009 is significant because he represents the scholars as a group, a collective whole.  Fraternity 9-3452 is one of the scholars, one of the brotherhood, and the Golden One is the woman who shines brighter than all the rest in Equality 7-2521’s eyes.

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