Friday, March 27, 2015

Anthem by Ayn Rand

Oh Ayn Rand. How the conservativeS sing your praises and the liberals denounce your objectivist ways. Your other books have way too many pages for me to even consider reading, but maybe in a few years where my book stack is uncharacteristically low or someone dares me $200 to read The Fountainhead or Atlas Shrugged. I would even consider reading if a college student offered to pay me to read and analyze one of her books for an easy grade. Well, jokes on you college student, because have you seen my reviews?

Alright, so the only reason I knew about Anthem was that it was one of the books my co-teacher assigned to the 9th grade last year. Why do we have  Anthem in the book room at my school? (Realistically, book closet. The school I teach at is almost a 1 room school house.) Well, the second question I offer you is why do we have ALL the books by Ayn Rand in the book closet?

I will tell you.

The Ayn Rand Institute gives class sets of ALL her books to schools for free.

That's right. Objectivism lives on in free books. Because really, what teacher can resist anything free?

So, back to the 9th graders reading Anthem last year. I grit my teeth and helped my students through the book, though I am in the liberal camp that thinks she is absolutely nuts. We finish Anthem and we go on our merry way. When I get my batch of 9th graders, who practically read everything under the sun that I was going to assign (because really, what 8th grade ELA teacher teaches Shakespeare? KIPP, that's who), I scoured the book closet.

And came across Anthem.

There is no way they read Ayn Rand! Thus begins my slow descent into madness... though not really. In terms of books she wrote, Anthem is pretty tame even while spatting the philosophy of selfishness (you think I'm joking). The protagonist is a hunk of a man by the name of Equality... something something something. There are numbers after his name, and every single person who lives in this distopian universe also has a virtue and a set of numbers after his name.

Equality enternumbershere is so good looking (tall, built, you get the idea. Ayn Rand had an idea of what she wanted her man to be like), that everybody else is jealous of him. All he wants is to study and be smart, but they give him the job of a sweeper, with all the other idiots. Throughout the book, he also refers to himself as "WE" because you know, SYMBOLISM.

Equality talks about his fellow sweeper mates and how even though it's very clear some of them are meant to be street sweepers, Equality numbers here is not. Then all in one day he sees a lady who is very different than the other fuggos she picks food with and he also finds a box with things in it! So after he hits on the pretty lady by the name of Liberty something numbers and finds out that she's 17 and therefore hasn't gone to the house of mating yet (yeah, apparently they just go off to this house to do the deed. If Liberty Bell was made to do that, well then she's a dirty whore), he goes into this tunnel to do experiments on his box.

He creates electricity and desperate to prove that his hotness does not have to get in the way of his smartness and the World Council has nothing to fear, he presents his findings to the society.

And. All. Hell. Breaks. Loose.

It's a novella and has very good lessons on word choice and author's style, which is why this is the next book I'm teaching (ifff we don't have any snow days). Anthem on its own isn't a bad book. However, Anthem could also act as a gateway drug for Rand's other books.

No comments:

Post a Comment