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Anthem is a novel is written by Ayn Rand.

Characters

Plot

Symbolism

The Uncharted Forest

For Equality 7-2521, the state of nature affords him the chance to live alone and sustained by the work of his own hands, an opportunity he is denied in society. Unlike society, which constrains what an individual can claim as his own, the forest welcomes Equality 7-2521 and provides him what he needs. The forest is also a connection between the past and the future. In the forest, Equality 7-2521 and the Golden One find a new home for themselves—one of the only remnants of the Unmentionable Times in the story. This home suits them, and in it they discover their own natural states. The forest thus provides them with a place to effect their own rebirth.

Manuscripts

In the society in Anthem, manuscripts carry history and are sacred vessels for self-expression. The manuscripts that Equality 7-2521 steals from the Home of the Scholars are very important to him because they are his only means of recording his private thoughts. Because he is accustomed to believing that no thought is valid unless it is shared by the entire community, his willingness to record his thoughts, to see them as valuable, represents his first significant break with society. The books he finds in his new forest home are also important to him because they teach him the history of the old world's destruction and, most important, teach him the word “I.” This discovery concludes Equality 7-2521's search for individual expression and allows him to think of himself as separate from the rest of his peers. It also teaches him a deeply personal kind of pleasure, both in the form of reading, which is itself a solitary activity in his life, and in writing, which allows him to speak so that only he can hear. Equality 7-2521's obsession with his manuscripts, then, reflects a deep-seated need to escape the prying eyes of the society around him and to realize his full potential as an individual.

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