Find several examples of the ways in which this society tries to obliterate each individual's mind (and self) by quashing personal choices, desires, and values.

Expert Answers

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

Doing or thinking anything by oneself without government permission is among the gravest of transgressions in the extreme collectivist society conjured by Ayn Rand in Anthem.

Thinking one's own thoughts, much less writing them down, is impermissible here because it takes place outside of the group, or collective. To...

See
This Answer Now

Start your 48-hour free trial to unlock this answer and thousands more. Enjoy eNotes ad-free and cancel anytime.

Start your 48-Hour Free Trial

Doing or thinking anything by oneself without government permission is among the gravest of transgressions in the extreme collectivist society conjured by Ayn Rand in Anthem.

Thinking one's own thoughts, much less writing them down, is impermissible here because it takes place outside of the group, or collective. To be legal, individual thoughts would have to be pre-authorized by the Council of Vocations. Like thinking independent thoughts, being alone is illegal and considered the root of all evil.

Personal pronouns are illegal in this society of the future, and all persons refer to themselves as "we" and by their state-assigned number. Being different from the collective in any significant way is a sin, and to be superior to them (to have a quick mind) is evil, and teachers whip intelligent students for this gross violation of equality. The smartest students are assigned to menial vocations for life.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

The new world Rand imagines, which represents an extreme version of collectivism run amok, does many things to ensure conformity and erase individuality.

For instance, people are identified as numbers, not by names. The main character is called 7-2521. He refers to himself as "they," not I, because his society has gotten rid of singular pronouns in order to enhance people's sense of identification with the collective. He is punished for wanting to be a scholar by being made a street sweeper, and he is whipped for trying to bring electric light to this society.

People in this world do not live in private homes. In fact, 7-2521 is amazed, after he escapes, to discover a house that he and 5-3000, "The Golden One," can live in apart from other people.

Romantic love is also not allowed, as it would permit two people to isolate themselves from the collective. It is only after their escape that 7-2521 and 5-3000 can have a normal love relationship, name themselves, and fully embrace their individuality as distinct human beings.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team