What inspires people?

What inspires people? What gives them purpose? For many, the answer is family. For others, the answer is sports or religion. What do these answers have in common? Whether they look to family, sports, or religion all are looking for validation, motivation, and hope. Without hope, life is bland and joyless as Ayn Rand shows us in Anthem, where she depicts a dark, hopeless society. Through the protagonist, Equality, she ultimately shows that those who remain hopeful are happier than those who give up hope.

The society that Ayn Rand depicts is a hopeless society. The reason it is hopeless is that fear is a constant in their lives. In “Anthemville” “There is fear hanging in the air of the sleeping halls, and in the air of the streets. Fear walks through the City, fear without name, without shape. All men feel it and none dare to speak” (46). The hopelessness is ever present and seems endless. In fact, fear and hopelessness become too intense for Fraternity 2-5503 and Solidarity 9-6347. Fraternity 2-5503 would cry out in the middle of the day and could not stop himself, nor could anyone stop him. Solidarity, on the other hand, would cry out at night time: “Help us! Help us! Help us!” (47). Although both try their best to keep their dissatisfaction to themselves, they cannot control what they do unconsciously.

Equality becomes more and more conscious of his job life and his “personal life”. Equality has always known that he was different. He knew he was different from the youngest years of his life. He was different because he had his own thoughts even though that was forbidden. When he started figuring out what his future will look like with the council choosing his future, he started to realize that he wanted to be a Scholar. He soon figured out that “This was the only thing which moved, for the lips of the oldest did not move as they said: ‘Street Sweeper’” (26). When he found out that he was the lowest job possible, a street sweeper, he is resentful. In addition to having the lowest job possible, he has to go to the city palace of mating every year. This is the lowest place in the society, it is such a “shameful matter, of which we do not like to think” (41). Reproduction of life is something that everyone should save for someone they love. Having someone choose who they are going to reproduce with is beyond recall. In the city palace of mating, there is no light at the end of the tunnel.

During Equalites lifetime, he has no faith nor did he have hope. There was one object that he rediscovered that made him have even the slightest glimpse of hope. He rediscovers light in his tunnel, for him it was “[T]he first time do we care about our body. For this wire is as a part of our body, as a vein torn from us, glowing with our blood” (61). Not only did it give him a glimpse of hope, but it gave him a reason to think even more. In this society, no one can think, which makes others have the sense and urgency to do it more. Equality was always thinking about the light “but the sound trickled back into our throat, and the sound was only: “‘The light... The light... The light...’”(66). The little time he had every day to just look at the light, was the best time of his life.

Fear, obedience, and hopelessness are the norm in “Anthemville”. These three things can be dangerous together if one does not find hope in their life. Equality never had any hope in his life until the light came around. For him, it was an object that made his live drive. It could be anything that makes anyone not give up hope to live a happier life.

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