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What are some metaphors in Anthem by Ayn Rand?

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In Anthem by Ayn Rand, metaphors include the entire society symbolizing collectivism and altruism. Specific examples include the "Home of the Useless" representing the fate of the non-productive, and Equality 7-2521's discovery of "I" symbolizing individualism. Another metaphor is when Equality describes Liberty 5-3000 as making "the earth a beggar under their feet," highlighting her uniqueness and beauty.

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"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.

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

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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What symbolism is in Ayn Rand's Anthem?

Names are important symbols in this novella. Of course, the deliberate erasure of individualism in this dystopian culture is symbolized by humans being assigned numbers rather than names. Therefore, Equality 7-2521 shows his subversive tendencies when he names the young woman he loves the Golden One. This describes her golden hair, but also becomes a symbol of the hope of a better, more golden future that she represents to Equality.

The names the two protagonists take after they escape are also symbolic. Equality 7-2521 becomes Prometheus, and the Golden One becomes Gaea. Just taking names symbolizes the twosome's rejection of the mass conformity of their old culture, but the names themselves have symbolic resonance. Prometheus, a figure in Greek mythology, was punished by the gods for bringing fire to mankind. This name therefore symbolizes Equality's attempts, which will continue to bring the light of knowledge to humans. Gaea, a Greek goddess, was the mother of the earth. Since the Golden One is pregnant at the end of the novella, we can assume she will be the mother of a new kind of humans who will achieve greatness as people did in the past.

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What symbolism is in Ayn Rand's Anthem?

When Equality 7-2521 begins his narrative, he refers to both the light of a single candle and how alone he is in his tunnel.  "We are alone here under the earth," he says.  Further, "it is strange" to him to see only his two legs in front of him and the shadow of his one head on the wall.  Thus, the single candle becomes associated, symbolically, with his solitude and singular thoughtfulness.  In fact, he has stolen the candle from the building where he lives so that he can do his "secret . . . evil . . . precious work" by its light—connecting it to the work he does all alone.  Moreover, his box of light, with which he has rediscovered electricity, symbolizes his awakening and its personal, individual nature.  

The narrator also mentions the "iron bracelet which all men wear on their left wrists with their names upon it."  The metal is iron, a material we might recall as being quite strong and often the metal used to shackle slaves or prisoners. This seems to symbolize Equality's status as a virtual slave to his society.  He has little freedom to make choices, and he has been given a state-sanctioned name with which he has been labeled.  This iron label might make us recall both the treatment enslaved peoples have borne as well as the treatment of Jews during the Holocaust when they were labeled and marked by numbers.

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What symbolism is in Ayn Rand's Anthem?

There are so many symbols in Anthem that one could turn to any page and find one-- it's that amazing! The whole society that Rand created in the story is symbolic of some ideology that can drive any heated political or social discussion. First, the element of light is both ideologically and temporally discussed. The society uses candles, the most simplistic forms of light, yet Equality discovers electricity. In this example, the types of light also represent the level of knowledge that a person accepts in the story. The Scholars could not accept electricity like Equality did; therefore, they could only accept the lower form of knowledge according to the rules of their society (which also limits their intellectual progression). The following is a list of other symbols and their meanings from the novel.

Uncharted Forest = freedom or uncharted life of choices and free will

Social Meetings = brainwashing forums for acceptance of the society

People's Names = Collective Nouns (singular nouns with plural meanings--just like the society.)

The Cave= this is a Yonic symbol (maternal) where most people spend time being nurtured and learn about the world.

Body language= the state of a man. Most men are hunched over, sad, and won't look into each other's eyes due to fear. But Equality walks uprightly showing his strength of mind.

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What symbolism is in Ayn Rand's Anthem?

The symbolism in Ayn Rand's Anthem revolves primarily around language and literature. The narrator only uses plural pronouns, such as "we," and "us," indicating that the singular personal pronouns of "me" and "I " are unknown to this population. This limited vocabulary symbolically reflects the limited political and social freedoms individuals in this society experience. In addition, there is a lot of physical symbolism in the story. The narrator writes from within a dark tunnel, reflecting the political and cultural darkness of his society. Rand is echoing Plato's allegory of the cave: the man who resides mostly in the tunnel assumes that his own ignorance is universal. The narrator's ignorance is cured when he finds and reads numerous old books and documents, including the U.S. declaration of Independence and several Greek myths. After this, he leaves the tunnel. This departure represents his exit from a life of ignorance and oppression.

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What are examples of metonymy in Anthem by Ayn Rand?

Metonymy is the substitution of one word for another with which it is closely associated. For example, one could say that the orders came directly from the White House in order to indicate that the president gave orders; the phrase White House is substituted for the word president. In chapter 2, Equality 7-2521 describes seeing Liberty 5-3000. He says,

The women who have been assigned to work the soil live in the Homes of the Peasants beyond the City.

In this case, the word soil is used to describe not only the land but also the plants that grow from it. Liberty 5-3000 plows the earth, sowing seeds that will grow into crops that help to feed the community.

Equality 7-2521 says that his group of street sweepers is to clean the road that goes past the fields and the Home of the Peasants, and he loves this time because he hopes that he will see Liberty 5-3000. He says that, on each day after the first,

we knew the illness of waiting for our hour on the northern road.

This does not mean that the street sweepers are to spend exactly one hour cleaning this road, but Equality 7-2521 uses the word hour to mean his time on this road. We often measure time by hours, and so these words are closely related.

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What are examples of metonymy in Anthem by Ayn Rand?

Metonymy involves using a word or concept associated with something instead of the thing itself. An example is "suit" for "business executive." An example in Anthem is the following from Chapter 1: "It is as if we were speaking alone to no ears but our own." In this case, "ears" comes to stand for the entire human being who the narrator, Equality 7-2521, is speaking to. Another example from Chapter 1 is the following: "We think there are mysteries in the sky and under the water and in the plants that grow." In this example, "the sky" stands for more than just the sky but represents the entire heavens, and the water represents the seas; the plants represent the entire natural world of flora and fauna. A final example from Chapter 1 is "no eyes can see us as we crawl under our seat and under the cloth of the tent." In this example, "eyes" stand for the ability of other people to see the narrator. 

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