Societal Structure in “Anthem”

This is FREE sample
This text is free, available online and used for guidance and inspiration. Need a 100% unique paper? Order a custom essay.
  • Any subject
  • Within the deadline
  • Without paying in advance
Get custom essay

Social Norms and Relations

In the collective society of Anthem, social norms and relations are prearranged, the dos and don’ts are very specific and are very rarely broken, and everything is based around collectivism. An example of social norms in Anthem is in the very beginning where Equality is explaining how his society works; he says, “We strive to be like all our brother man, for all men must be alike… we repeat to ourselves whenever we are tempted: ‘We are one in all and all in one. There are no men but only the great WE, One, indivisible and forever’” (19).

This shows that everyone in the society acts the same way and that when they are tempted to stand out they are to remember that they are part of a greater whole and collectivism is most important. A second example about social norms in Anthem is soon after Equality meets International 4- 8818, “We cannot look upon International 4- 8818 and not smile in answer.

For this they were not liked in the Home of the Students, as it is not proper to smile without reason. And also they were not liked because they took pieces of coal and they drew pictures upon the walls… only our brothers in the Home of the Artists who are permitted to draw pictures” (29-30). In Equality’s society it is impolite or even forbidden to smile without reason and to draw unless you are a member of the Home of the Artists. Both of these rules maintain the disciplines of the society and ensure that one person does not receive any extra attention than everyone else.

Governance and Maintenance

Rand’s description of governance and maintenance in the collective society of Anthem shows that they value collectivism and the good of everyone. They follow the advice and law of the World Council without question. A first example of how everyone always follows the rules of the World Council is when Equality is attempting to escape from the Palace of Corrective Detention after showing the council his invention, “It was easy to escape… the locks are old… there are no guards about. There is no reason to have guards, for men have never defied the Councils so far” (66-67).

This shows that the Council’s word really is law that everyone in the community follows. Equality is the first to continually defy the Council’s word and not retain himself for the good of the society. A second example of the word of the World Council and collectivism comes after Equality has proposed his invention of the light bulb to the World Council, one of the members says to him, “We have much to say to a wretch who have broken all the laws and who boast of their infamy! How dared you think that your mind held greater wisdom than the mind of your brothers? And if the Councils had decreed that you should be a Street Sweeper, how dared you think that you could be of greater use to men than in sweeping the streets?” (72).

This quote shows that the council also teaches collectivism and that Equality would break their rules is almost unthinkable. They don’t believe that he could do more than what he was instructed to do. Equality’s actions show that he does not need the governance of his society as he has been taught his whole life, he can survive without them.


The society laid out in Anthem values equality and as such everyone is educated the exact same until they are chosen and trained for their careers. The education system in Anthem is very methodical and is made to be an equalizer of everyone and to teach collectivism. A first example of education/school being used to equalize everyone in Anthem, is that at age five children are sent to the “Home of the Students” for ten years of study (until they are fifteen) and each morning everyone repeats, “We are nothing. Mankind is all. By the grace of our brothers are we allowed our lives. We exist through, by and for our brother who are the state. Amen” (21). This quote shows that every child is taught collectivism from the start and that everyone is equal, no man is greater than his brothers in any way.

Another example of this is when Equality states, “Equality 7-2521, were not happy in those years in the Home of the Students. It was not that the learning was too hard for us. It was that the leaning was too easy. This is a great sin, to be born with a head which is too quick. It is not good to be different from our brothers, but it is evil to be superior to them. The Teachers told us so, and they frowned when they looked upon us… And we were lashed more often than all the other children” (21- 22).

This is a great example of how Equality shows that he is different from everyone else in the community and is punished for it. Equality’s intellect and ability to understand everything he is taught and even teach himself make him an outcast from society and show that he doesn’t really need them. He eventually learns that he as an individual is more important than the society that has tried to take away his individuality by equalizing him with his brothermen.

Cite this paper

Societal Structure in “Anthem”. (2021, Dec 24). Retrieved from https://samploon.com/societal-structure-in-anthem/

We use cookies to give you the best experience possible. By continuing we’ll assume you’re on board with our cookie policy

Peter is on the line!

Don't settle for a cookie-cutter essay. Receive a tailored piece that meets your specific needs and requirements.

Check it out