1 Utopia and Ayn Rand and Anthem

Utopia vs. Dystopia
Can you have one
without the other?
Can you? Really?
Tammy Gillmore
Pre-AP English 10
Thematic Unit
Spring 2009
What are the differences between…
Born in St.
Petersburg, Russia
In Stony Creek, CT,
where her husband
was working in
summer stock
productions and where
she wrote Anthem
One of a series of
photos taken in 1957
by Phyllis Cerf for the
dust jacket of Atlas
Timeline of Life
Do not make the mistake of the ignorant who
think that an individualist is a man who says: “I’ll
do as I please at everybody else’s expense.” An
individualist is a man who recognizes the
inalienable individual rights of man—his own and
those of others.
An individualist is a man who says: “I will not run
anyone’s life—nor let anyone run mine. I will not
rule nor be ruled. I will not be a master nor a
slave. I will not sacrifice myself to anyone—nor
sacrifice anyone to myself.”
“Textbook of Americanism,” The Ayn Rand Column, 84.
Individualism regards man—every man—as an
independent, sovereign entity who possesses an
inalienable right to his own life, a right derived
from his nature as a rational being. Individualism
holds that a civilized society, or any form of
association, cooperation or peaceful coexistence
among men, can be achieved only on the basis of
the recognition of individual rights—and that a
group, as such, has no rights other than the
individual rights of its members.
“Racism,” The Virtue of Selfishness, 129.
Objectivism ~ “philosophy for living on earth”
See handout.
Objectivism ~ “philosophy for living on earth”
See handout.
Anthem (1938)
tells the story of one man’s rebellion against a totalitarian society.
When the novel’s hero, Equality 7-2521, commits the
unpardonable crime—independent thought—he sets himself in
conflict with the moral strictures of his world—a world in which all
expressions of individualism have been suppressed, where the
very word “I” has been banished from the language—a world of
joyless, selfless men permitted to exist only for the sake of
serving the group.
Written in 1937, as “a kind of a rest” from work on her novel The
Fountainhead, Anthem anticipates some of that novel’s themes.
Anthem’s theme is meaning and glory of man’s ego. Its style is
unique among Ayn Rand’s works in that it is written in the form of
a prose poem—an anthem to the ego.
Initially refused publication in America (one publisher rejected it
on the grounds that “the author does not understand socialism”),
Anthem was first published in England. An American edition
appeared in 1946 and the novel remains in print to this day,
widely used in classrooms across the U.S.
Select ONE of the following three
Equality 7-2521 states that it is very unusual for men to reach the
age of 45 (Chapter 1). Consistent with the story and its meaning,
offer several possible explanations as to why life expectancy is so
short in his society.
Anthem is a heroic and inspiring story about the triumph of the
individual’s independent spirit. Even though, at the end of the
novel, Equality is greatly outnumbered, and modern society lies in
ruins, it is a story of liberation and hope—not despair. Discuss.
In a single, unified essay, explain the meaning and wider
significance of each of the following quotes in the story:
“The glass box in our arms is like a living heart that gives us strength.
We have lied to ourselves. We have not built this box for the good of
our brothers” (Chapter 7).
“I wished to know the meaning of things. I am the meaning” (Chapter
“I owe nothing to my brothers, nor do I gather debts from them”
(Chapter 11).
Essays will be judged on both style and content.
Judges will look for writing that is clear, articulate
and logically organized. Winning essays must
demonstrate an outstanding grasp of the
philosophic meaning of Anthem.
Essay submissions are evaluated in a fair and
unbiased multi-round judging process. To ensure
the anonymity of our participants, essays are
graded without cover sheets. Winners’ names
remain unknown to judges until after the essays
have been ranked and the contest results
finalized. ARI checks essays with Ithenticate
plagiarism detection software.
Essay must be no fewer than 600 and
no more than 1,200 words in length
and double-spaced.
 One entry per student, please.
March 20, 2009
 Submit online.