How does Anthem contradict Ayn Rand's philosophy?

Expert Answers

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

Rand's novel purports to be about radical individualism but, in the end, it is about the importance of community—a glaring contradiction.

Equality 7-2521 and the Golden One escape the oppressive chains of their "we" society. In the process they rename themselves Prometheus and Gaea and, with Gaea's pregnancy, start a...

See
This Answer Now

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

Get 48 Hours Free Access

Rand's novel purports to be about radical individualism but, in the end, it is about the importance of community—a glaring contradiction.

Equality 7-2521 and the Golden One escape the oppressive chains of their "we" society. In the process they rename themselves Prometheus and Gaea and, with Gaea's pregnancy, start a family. (A family, we might note, is a community.)

"Prometheus" states very baldly that:

To be free, a man must be free of his brothers. That is freedom. That and nothing else.

If that is so, this ideology is profoundly compromised and contradicted by his conviction that he must gather a group around him. As he states, rather pompously:

I shall call to me all the men and the women whose spirit has not been killed within them and who suffer under the yoke of their brothers. They will follow me and I shall lead them to my fortress. And here, in this uncharted wilderness, I and they, my chosen friends, my fellow-builders, shall write the first chapter in the new history of man.

Later, at the very end of the novel, he states:

For the coming of that day I shall fight, I and my sons and my chosen friends.

This doesn't sound very individualistic. It sounds like creating a new kind of conformity. A reader can only imagine that this hand-picked elite chosen by Prometheus will only include people who think like him, and that people who challenge his views will be excluded. This sounds very much like the lock-step society he and Gaea just escaped, the only difference being that he will be in charge.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team