In Ayn Rand's Anthem, what is the great rebirth?  

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

The main character in Rand's Anthem is named Equality 7-2521 and he lives in a community that has brain-washed everyone into believing that man must live for the community and not for himself. The government, called the World Council, tells the people that there was a Great Rebirth, or a time that restructured society. This Great Rebirth followed what they call the Unmentionable Times. Equality doesn't know much about those times because they don't teach the children about what society was like before the Great Rebirth. Equality does have an inkling of it though, and states it as follows:

"It is only the Old Ones who whisper about it in the evenings, in the Home of the Useless. They whisper many strange things, of the towers which rose to the sky, in those Unmentionable Times, and of the wagons which moved without horses, and of the lights which burned without flame. But those times were evil. And those times passed away, when men saw the Great Truth which is this: that all men are one and that there is no will save the will of all men together" (19-20).

The above passage shows that the people are taught that a Great Truth was recognized during the Unmentionable Times and that started the Great Rebirth. The "truth" is as stated above, that all men are one whole body, not separate individuals. This way of thinking makes it so each man and woman will give up his or her desires to live for him or herself, and live for the benefit and success of the community. That is to say, it is unlawful for a person to be ambitious or to live to accomplish their own dreams. There is only one goal: to live as a member of the community and obey without seeking one's own ambition or questioning the government.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team