In Anthem by Ayn Rand, what are some motifs in the book?

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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Some motifs that are found in Anthem by Ayn Rand are Fear, Uniformity, and Naming.

  • Fear

In many ways control over the society is exerted by the presence of fear. The Street Sweepers with whom Equality 7-2521 works are so fearful that they do not even speak to each other at dinner or when they are at home. There is no need for any concern that these workers will do anything that they should not because fear prevents them from acting.

When Equality is caught with his light bulb, he begs the authorities to take it and use it; he is not afraid of punishment.  At the end of the narrative, Equality has built his house with the Golden One and he is willing to die to defend it. He has achieved individuality because he will protect what is his. 

In Chapter 2, the narrator tells of those who utter the forbidden word. They are those who know no fear:

The Transgressor were young and tall. They had hair of gold and eyes blue as morning. They walked to the pyre, and their step did not falter. And of all the faces on that square, of all the faces which shrieked and screamed and spat curses upon them, theirs was the calmest and the happiest face.

  • Uniformity

Without form, nothing can be individual or different, so when Equality is measured taller that others, he is reprimanded. The Council of Vocations and the World Council of Scholars are all shapeless. In the previous citation, the Transgressors, who are burned as heretics, are described as "tall," and they are distinctive from the others.

  • Naming

In the society of Anthem, people are given the names of qualities and quantities: Liberty 3000, Equality7-2521, Solidarity 9-6347, Fraternity2-5503, and so forth. When Equality and Golden One build their house in the last chapter, having read of Adam in the Bible, who had the power to name the creatures, he decides that his name should be Prometheus and she be Gaea, after a goddess.

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