What are some metaphors in Anthem by Ayn Rand?

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ladyvols1 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

"Anthem (1938) is a science fiction novelette of a future primitive society in which the word "I" is forbidden. Rand's point in this work is that the individualism which had built a complex technological civilization has been smothered by collectivism."

Ayn Rand’s Anthem is a drama about a society in which there is no individual ego.  Everyone is given a label on a metal band.  They are given titles like Liberty 5-3000 and Equality 7-2521.  Equality 7-2521 is the protagonist of the drama and is the character that Rand uses to promote the concept of the individual against altruism.  The whole story of Anthem is a metaphor.  The society is a complete socialistic and altruistic society.  Every department within the society is given labels.  One specific example is the Home of the Useless where the Old Ones live.

“At forty, they are sent to the Home of the Useless, where the Old Ones live. The Old Ones do not work, for the State takes care of them.” chapter 1.

One special metaphor Rand uses is when Equality is watching  Liberty 5-3000 plant seeds in the fields.  He says, “the earth was a beggar under their feet.” (chapter 2), meaning that she was so special and so beautiful that even the ground would beg to have her walk on it.  She is different like him and he knows this as soon as he sees her.   
Another telling metaphor in the drama is when Equality has finally discovered the meaning of the word I.  He writes, “I need no warrant for being, and no word of sanction upon my being. I am the warrant and the sanction.” chapter 11 Anthem.

jmilnes | Student

There are many metaphors in Anthem.  All of the "names" given to the characters are metaphors.  Equality...never finds equality, but instead represents the idea of there never being equality.  Liberty represents hope, love, and happiness.  The light in the box (a light bulb) represents ideas and change.  The idea that their life has no meaning is represented in the mundane view their society takes on all areas...clothing is plain, no colors, same thing day after day after day.  Keep looking you will see them.  I hope you liked this book.  When my students read it there were some that loved it and some that hated it.  I hope you are one that loved it.  It really speaks to the ideas of individuality.  It is a good thing to be yourself.

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