Reflection Paper on Anthem (by Ayn Rand)

University of the Philippines Diliman Extension Program in Pampanga Clark Freeport Zone, Angeles City, Pampanga Reflection Paper Anthem by: Ayn Rand Jemima Micah T. Sadsad 2012-20252 BS Business Management Submitted to: Sir Aoux Santos It’s a sin to not write this. For finishing this will allow me to acquire one fourth of my grade on the most-anticipated subject—A subject that is hard, yet easy; A subject able to be both loved and despised; A subject whose aim is to know thy self, yet, when thoroughly studied, you would end up losing what you think is yours.
This subject I am babbling about is not just a subject; It is the subject: Philosophy. ~ Well, at first look, this is how I comprehended the novella “Anthem”. Simple message relayed through tough words, when really that’s not the point of it. Anthem is about a boy who was born with the curse of knowing things more superior than most of his society—a society that does not accept progress unless approved by everyone. This boy then meets a girl with qualities like her, and later falls in love with her. Even though their society forbids a love like theirs, they didn’t mind and kept it a secret.
He tried to help their society through his discoveries, though ended up escaping it, and trying to create a new one of his own. It has a typical story line with a dystopian theme. Aside from that there’s nothing really more from it. Or is there? *** *** Having read the book again (while trying hard to read between the lines; picking up every lesson I could make use of), I have reflected on a few new things which I did not find during my first read. I have reflected on individuals present in the story and how they relate to me, the society howed in “Anthem” and how it could be reflected to my country, and my general motion and conclusion on what the story is all about. One very prominent element that I could reflect on are the main characters in the story. The main characters present in the story are Equality 7-2521 and Liberty 5-3000. Equality 7-2521 (also known as “The Unconquered” or “Prometheus”) – The main character is a brave, curious, strong, and intelligent street sweeper who thinks of himself as cursed. He knows that he is cursed, yet knows not how to resist it. He believes in individualism and rejects the collectivist society around him.

Learning was too easy for him because of his quick head. He asks too many questions that his teachers forbade him from asking. “He only wishes to know. Equality 7-2521 represents the superiority of a singular intellect to the homogeneity of the masses, who cannot think for themselves—the society of shapeless people who are indistinguishable from one another. At first read, I thought to myself, he (Equality) is too self-centered, thinking that he is far superior than his society, and that his only flaw is the society’s disapproval of him.
Also, I don’t like how he came up with his conclusion of his ego being the center of his universe (though, I’m not saying that the conclusion is wrong). It’s just so unthinkable how without knowing what the word “I” really means, he suddenly knows what it is and how to use it. On the other hand, I like how his curiosity always gets the better of him. I like how he is eager to know and discover things even though he knows that it is forbidden to do so. I love how Equality 7-2521 takes risks to justify his thirst of knowing more.
These character traits of Equality 702521 made me reflect more on the adventures of learning, rather than the concept of individualism. I like how his quest full of myriad mischief turned out to be an amazing discovery of the light bulb (which for me symbolizes progress and/or change). I love how he soon realizes that his learning is not really for the society, but rather for him and him alone. One thing I also admire about Equality 7-2521 is his love for Liberty 5-3000, that even though it is forbidden, they still chose to continue their love. Selfish indeed, but selfishness is not always a bad thing.
Another main character on the book that I have reflected on is Liberty 5-3000 (also known as “The Golden One” or “Gaea”) – This character is a peasant that has eyes with no signs of fear in it, whom Equality 7-25521 falls in love with. She is Beautiful, proud, and strong like Equality 7-2521. She loves Equality 7-2521 because he is different from everyone around him. And Equality 7-2521 loves her back for the same reason. For me, Liberty 5-3000 is a little bit too submissive. Her mix of independent pride and devoted submission to Equality 7-2521 seems contradictory.
Prometheus’ universe may have his own ego as its center, but for Liberty 5-3000? I don’t think so. Liberty 5-3000’s character is a perfect counter-example of Ayn Rand’s main thought of: “I is my god”. Gaea is more of a: “Equality 7-2521 is my god”. (Liberty 5300 to Equality 7-2521: “Your will be done…”). Although I hate how she submits herself too much to Equality 7-2521, I like her for standing out of the crowd. I like how fierce she can be trying to put what she loves first before what others dictate her to. I also like her show of courage by following the one she loves even though it might place her in great danger.
However, I think the author somehow just took a shot of presenting a true epitome of a perfect woman with great courage and confidence, but only with the weakness of her beloved. Unfortunately, Ayn Rand failed trying, for instead she just created a weak and submissive leading lady. Gaea apparently became just an object of Prometheus’ with no say on things at all. These two main characters made me reflect on how not all people are alike (which was the point of the whole story: Individualism). Not everyone is as strong or as smart as Prometheus. Neither are they all of beauty and devotion as Liberty 5-3000.
The story also made me reflect on the concept of solitude, and how not all people find happiness in solitude. In fact, even in the story itself, Equality 7-2521 is not alone, for he finds happiness in the presence of Liberty 5-3000. Absolute solitude is inconceivable. Different people have different purposes. They might find their purposes with others, or they might find their purposes of for themselves alone. And even if they find their purposes for themselves, still, it will influence their society, because one cannot live without another. No man is an island.
As for me, I find happiness in having loved ones beside me; I’m not saying that I let them think for me though. I am currently a conformist and non-conformist. I am a conformist in that I conform to my God and with His teachings. A non-conformist in that, like Liberty, I submit myself to my beliefs and resist things of its opposite (although at times, they may overlap with each other). I conform to my God, and so try not to conform to the world. I conform to my government, yet reject on them trying to take over me. I succumb to, yet I resist. Also, I could consider myself to have hints of Equality 7-2521 in my personality.
I love learning as much as I love taking risks. I remember the story of my 4 yr old self. My mom used to tell this story every time she remembers it and every single time we would laugh at it. So here’s how it goes: It was an ordinary day, we were travelling by a car. My mom was driving and her sister (my aunt) was in the front seat. I, my 2 sisters, and my cousin were at the back seat. I was the closest to the door handle, and that was when the inner curiosity of me sparked! “Now, what is this thing for? ” and voila, I was playing with the car door handle and suddenly I found myself rolling on the ground of an uphill highway.
While the action was happening, my mom and aunt were also caught in an intense activity: Gossiping. Yup, they were there chit-chatting while I was outside, rip rolling. Since my two sisters and my cousin saw my fall, they panicked and then started shouting, “Ma! Si Ima, nahulog! ”, but since my mom’s activity was more interesting than mine, they had to shut the kids up, “Kids, quiet! ”. Then my sisters started crying. That’s when my mom and aunt started to notice my absence. And at last, they panicked too. They went chasing for me, trying to save me from the rushing cars. But wait!
They forgot to turn on the brakes! Oh no, our car is sliding down the hill! What to do? Oh my— ~ Well, I’m here now so you know I was saved. It was a very long day, indeed. One day my mom would never ever forget. But hey, I learned. (I now know what that ‘thing’ is for! And I now know when to and when not to use those car locks, thank you. ) Anyway, I find myself having a little bit of Equality 7-2521 also because I often find pride in things I know I have done well in. Passing the UPCAT is one of the perfect examples. Having my family congratulate me, I find pride in myself.
I know that I have done well, and I know that I could do more, and so the learning continues. Moving on from the main characters, another prominent concept in the novella was the society. The society presented on Anthem is so wrong. The people there are under so much fear and are dehumanized. Their society promotes absolute collectivism where they are all one and one is all. They accept few, if not none at all, changes. Everyone is of equal importance as everyone. Freedom of speech is cut off. Men can’t speak to women, they were not able to show their emotions to them, and they can’t even have houses of their own!
Though it could be classified as a utopian society on other perspectives, description from Equality 7-2521 made it totally a dystopian society. “We are nothing. Mankind is all. By the grace of our brothers are we allowed our lives. We exist through, by, and for our brothers who are the state. Amen. ” –Palace of the World Council Their society reminded me of how North Korea is today. Although I may not know what their actual situation is at the moment, description from the media around the world truly rings the bell. It brings fear deep down my bones.
Society of no social stratification, no freedom of speech, everything and nothing is owned by everyone and no one. A society completely isolated from the rest of the world, North Korea could well focus on itself and not worry on how other countries are doing, and since they focus on themselves, no one would be left starving, everybody will be of equal rights with everyone. I think this is what North Korea claims itself to be though I’m pretty sure ‘country without social stratification’ is pretty far from what they are now. The government and society in Anthem also made me think of the government and the society of our own country.
As for the Philippines, I don’t think the concept of Anthem’s society might be applicable because of the fact that freedom of speech is already presented and is of practice today in the Philippines. Also, the presence of a free and nationwide media in our country made it more liberal than that of Anthem’s. The fact that Philippines is a democracy, too, can be of great evidence that our country is not with the like of that of Anthem’s. Everyone of the right mind is free to vote and free to speak. Take this reflection paper for example; I have every right to say what I want to, though I know I would suffer the consequences of my actions.
Everyone is allowed to think otherwise. Everyone has the right to choose for themselves what their “rights” and “wrongs” are. Men are allowed to merry another and have kids of their own. Families are able to build houses they can live in and start a new life. Filipinos, along with other people of other countries, could study whenever they want to and work whenever as long as time and money permits. They have the free will of choosing their school, acquiring their jobs, and retiring after they do. Everyone is allowed to choose their religion. Everyone is allowed to love without being asked why.
Chickens could cross the street without their motives being questioned. However, I may not completely forget the fact that, somehow, there might be some resemblances from Anthem’s society with the Philippines’. “The Home of the Useless”, “The Palace of Corrective Detention”, “The Palace of Mating”, “The Home of the Students”— All of which symbolizes branches of our system, though might be different in intensity than Anthem’s. Also, the home of the scholars could be of comparison with our senate system. We could be compared to them in terms of progress and how slow our system could be.
Although I know that we are still on the verge of growing and improving more, I have not lost my hopes for the Philippines. As for whether or not this society is possible on earth in the future, I don’t think so. I don’t think such absolute collectivism/communism is possible to be achieved. I believe that in achieving this society, first we’ll be in need of restarting; restarting everything from Adam and Eve. No one should know anything. Every book must be burned and every data on the internet must be erased. The whole world should go back to zero, or else absolute collectivism (like with the story Anthem) would be inconceivable. ———————————————— ————————————————- Anthem, in general, taught me how collectivism could be of destruction to a society. I reflected on few things about concepts such as collectivism, individualism, finding your true self, and finding your true purpose. I have made use of my new learnings about these things, and I know that would use them at one point in my life where I could be searching for answers on whether or not, why or why nots. These concepts could be of new references that I know I could consider whenever I am learning. ———————————————— ————————————————- I have a general feel of gloom and depression through-out the story. With how Equality 7-2521 dictates his society to us, I felt sorry for him and also for the society. In a nutshell, I liked the story. I enjoyed it and have reflected a lot of things from it. Although, what I did not like about the book was not the story but the author’s philosophy itself. By the end of the novella, Equality 7-2521 and Liberty 5-3000 have run away from their society to discover their own truth and start a new society of their own.
This truth leads to self-worshipping and calling themselves gods, and further stating that they have no obligation to other men. I have to strongly disagree with this idea. I am sorry to say Ayn Rand started with a great idea of individualism and ended in a train wreck of selfish isolation. *I would like to recommend this book to anyone who would want to reflect and re-evaluate their existences on certain aspects. This book presented a different outlook of the concept “I”, which you could reflect on greatly. Though, I’m not saying that this is the best book possible, it is still worth the read.

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