Anthem Summary and Analysis
by Ayn Rand
After much time has passed, on a hot day when the Peasants are weary and work far away from the road, Equality 7-2521 sees a second opportunity to speak with Liberty 5-3000, the Golden One. She is waiting at the hedge, and although her eyes are "hard and scornful" toward others, she seems ready to obey Equality 7-2521's words. He tells her that he has named her the Golden One in his thoughts, and she tells him that she has also given him a name -- the Unconquered.
Equality 7-2521 is silent for a moment before he points out that their thoughts are forbidden. She notes that he nevertheless wants her to continue thinking these thoughts, and he does not deny it, causing her to smile. He says: "Our dearest one, do not obey us." She steps back, her eyes wide, and, ignoring his command, she asks him to call her "our dearest one" again. He readily obliges, thinking as he does that no man has ever said such a thing to a woman before.
The Golden One's head bows, and she stands still before Equality 7-2521 with her palms turned toward him, clearly indicating that she is submitting her body to his. He is unable to speak, but she raises her head and soothingly tells him that he must be hot and tired. He disagrees, but she suggests that he come to the cooler fields and drink some water. When he says that he cannot cross the hedge, although he is thirsty, she kneels by the moat and brings water to his lips with her cupped hands. She keeps those hands by his lips even, after he is done drinking. He raises his head and steps back, confused because he does not understand his own actions. She does the same and leaves, walking backward with her arms still bent, as though they were still holding water.
At this point in the novel, Equality 7-2521's relationship with the Golden One has become a major plot strand, and it serves as a second impetus (in addition to the experiments in the tunnel) for Equality 7-2521's development of a sense of self. For these two lovers, love is not just a matter of passionate attraction but the natural and automatic result of a deep kinship in their values, independence, and spirit. In some sense, the most important aspect of Equality 7-2521's love is that he admires himself and thus clearly must admire the Golden One, who is an extension of his self. His friendship with International 4-8818 is a lesser expression of this corollary of the love of self. By contrast, those in his society who have not learned to love themselves cannot experience love for others and are limited to the thoroughly loveless activities at the Palace of Mating.
Just as Equality 7-2521 renames Liberty 5-3000, she changes his name to the Unconquered; the lovers exchange these names, and Equality 7-2521 calls Liberty 5-3000 "our dearest one," underlining the lovers' possession of each other as well as their increasing willingness to commit transgressions against the law through language. Their mutual naming also has religious overtones, and as the story progresses, Equality 7-2521 and Liberty 5-3000 begin to resemble renderings of the first man and first woman in many world religions and mythologies.
Further religious imagery appears as the Golden One offers Equality 7-2521 water from the moat. Her gesture of placing her wet hands next to his lips is reminiscent both of an offering and a baptism. Equality 7-2521 and the Golden One continue to act as the representative man and woman, pantomiming a ritual of desire and of individual, selfish love. They do not yet entirely understand the feeling of sexual attraction, echoing the state of Adam and Eve as they began in Eden. Ayn Rand intended for the writing of Anthem to be somewhat archaic, and her early drafts of Anthem reveal more direct references to phrases from the Bible, indicating her awareness of the parallels in her own archetypal couple.
In offering the water to Equality 7-2521, the Golden One combines the traditional female roles as a mother-like caregiver and an obedient wife. Equality 7-2521 observes that she obeys him because she considers him worthy; he tells her not to obey him, but she ironically insists upon submitting to his authority. A feminist reading of Anthem might well find this to be problematic. On the one hand, the Golden One is a capable and heroic individual in her own right, and Rand does not portray her as spiritually inferior to Equality 7-2521. However, the power relationship between the two is not equal, as Equality 7-2521 never proclaims his obedience to her, and the traditionally parochial view of male and female roles is largely preserved as Equality 7-2521 acts and the Golden One supports. Even more unsettling is the view suggested by The Fountainhead, in which Howard Roark's rape of Dominique Francon is portrayed positively, as a battle of wills in which the hero forces the heroine to submit, again reinforcing gender roles in a troubling manner.
The setting of Chapter Four is the hedge separating the Peasants' fields and the road leading to the city, on a particularly hot and oppressive day. Ironically, the heat that takes away the spirit and energy of the other women in the field allows the Golden One to escape the repressive laws and speak with Equality 7-2521 without being overheard. The hedge is a symbol of separation, representing the rules that prevent the two lovers from permanently joining, but it also represents the border between the city and its outer limits. As Equality 7-2521 approaches the border to talk to the Golden One, he also approaches the figurative border that will eventually lead to his break with his society.
Anthem Essays and Related Content
- Anthem: Major Themes
- Anthem: Questions
- Anthem: Purchase the Novel and Related Material
- Ayn Rand: Biography
- Anthem Summary
- About Anthem
- Character List
- Glossary of Terms
- Major Themes
- Quotes and Analysis
- Summary and Analysis of Chapter One
- Summary and Analysis of Chapter Two
- Summary and Analysis of Chapter Three
- Summary and Analysis of Chapter Four
- Summary and Analysis of Chapter Five
- Summary and Analysis of Chapter Six
- Summary and Analysis of Chapter Seven
- Summary and Analysis of Chapter Eight
- Summary and Analysis of Chapter Nine
- Summary and Analysis of Chapter Ten
- Summary and Analysis of Chapter Eleven
- Summary and Analysis of Chapter Twelve
- The Case Against Objectivism
- Related Links on Anthem
- Suggested Essay Questions
- Test Yourself! - Quiz 1
- Test Yourself! - Quiz 2
- Test Yourself! - Quiz 3
- Test Yourself! - Quiz 4
- Author of ClassicNote and Sources