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Personal Commentary on Anthem Essay


When I was 3 years old I specifically remember a time when I had wandered about the kitchen looking for a snack to satisfy my sweet-tooth. My mom had just gone to the store the other day and I knew she had to have bought a new box of cookies. I proceeded to the pantry and to my astonishment there was an unopened box of Oreos hiding on the bottom shelf. As soon as I reached for them my mom slapped my arm. Boy, what are you doing? she asked. It turns out I wasnt so sly after all. Consequently I was sent to sit in the corner. After she returned to watching her TV show in her room I conceived probably the most revolutionary thought in my lifetime up to that point- why am I still here? In Anthem by Ayn Rand, Equality 7-2521 found themselves in a similar situation when they were caught staying out late from the Home of the Street Sweepers. The old locks and the lack of guards in the Palace of Corrective Detention indicate that the prisoners never try to escape due to the fact that they never knew the concept of rebellion. They have always done what they were told and the guards did not feel a sense of urgency to watch over the prisoners. They never thought about trying to escape because they didnt have anywhere to go. Just as I did not have a plan after I stole the cookies, the prisoners wouldnt have known what to do once they got past the gate. Equality 7-2521 was different, however, because they had a purpose to fulfill and great ambition that would cause them to really stand out from the crowd.

The prisoners never tried to escape because they were taught that it was the law to do as they were told. This made the guards jobs easier because they didnt have to worry about anything happening or anybody trying to escape. It almost seemed like there is no reason to have guards, for men have never defied the Councils so far as to escape (Rand 67). This shows that everyone was used to that type of lifestyle and trying to run away from it would be to no use. They have never experienced what its like to live free and be able to have minds of their own. The fact that they never got a chance to express themselves is sad and hard to fathom. This also means that they were manipulated like this ever since they were born because they have never been encouraged to experience the opportunities and emotions we take for granted. However, Equality 7-2521 was the first to attempt to escape and with no surprise, he was successful. Equality seemed somewhat in shock that no men stopped [them], for there were none about from the Palace of Corrective Detention, and the others knew nothing (Rand 68). Equality was really the first one to have a mind of their own and from the start of the book it is easily seen that they dont belong in that society. This part of the book where they escape is a big step forward where Ayn Rand tries to portray that there is an ambitious spirit in all of us that will come out if the opportunity is that dire to take advantage of. Equality had that ambition that caused him to escape in order to meet the World Council of Scholars, a task that Equality was willing to do anything to accomplish.

The prisoners didnt want to escape from the Palace of Corrective Detention also because they did not feel the type of drive Equality had to lead them to accomplish their goals. With all of the knowledge they acquired and the discovery of electricity, Equality finally felt that for once he had a purpose to fulfill unlike all the other prisoners. Even if the prisoners knew it was possible to easily escape, they did not have the knowledge and power that Equality had. After being in such awe from the light bulb, Equality knew that he had to show the World Council of Scholars [who was] to meet in [their] city (Rand 66). Rand uses this part of the book to show that it only takes one person to really make a difference and go against the status quo. Equality was born a true leader unlike the others and wanted to better the world by wanting to work together, with the power of the sky, for the glory of mankind (Rand 67). None of the prisoners tried to escape because they didnt have a valid reason to like Equality had. These two contrasting thoughts and behaviors better shows why the prisoners couldnt leave and Equality made it a necessity to escape.

The little to no security in the Palace of Corrective Detention exhibited how comfortable the guards were with letting people who have committed crimes and have sinned just be given the permission to leave. The guards knew there was nothing to worry about because the prisoners have been forced all their lives to do as they were told. Ayn Rand basically asks the question, what could we do right now to be less like the prisoners and more like Equality? She proves that if the freedom of thought and new ideas are prohibited the society as a whole could cease to grow.

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