Anthem/By the Waters of Babylon Essay


The book Anthem by Ayn Rand and the passage By the Waters of Babylon by Stephen Vincent Benet are very similar in themes. The both talk of the “old times” and the main characters in both (Equality 7-2521 and the priest’s son) are searching for knowledge of the past. They are the only ones that are not afraid. It is shown in both that we fear the unknown. Human’s rarely like to take great risks or chances. We will also talk badly of things we don’t know anything about. Rumors and myths destroy our own opinions. All of this is proved in Anthem and By the Waters of Babylon.


Anthem is a book that is supposed to be a future world that doesn’t know about the past. They don’t have the technology that we do now. They lost it all. The world is all comformity and unity. No one is to be different, everyone is typically the same. They are all assigned jobs and everything is done in an orderly fashion. Equality 7-2521 is the main character. He is assigned to be a street sweeper, although he truly wants to be a scholar. Scholar’s invent things and basically are the brains of the whole community. Equality 7-2521 has a thirst for knowledge, knowledge of anything and everything. He finds a tunnel (could have been a subway) and he hides there to read and learn things. He also performs experiments. These are all considered highly illegal in his community. He eventually re-invents the light bulb. When he presents it to the scholars they are shocked and angered all at the same time. They don’t really know anything about this invention but they think it is stupid that a meer street sweeper would even present himself in front of the scholars. They are so angry at him so he ends up running away. I believe that the true feeling that they felt was fear. They don’t know anything about this invention. I think anyone would be scared of it at first, if they’ve never seen anything like it before. How do you capture fire inside a small glass and produce light like that? People take for granted all the inventions and technology we have. The first time the light bulb was presented I’m sure it was shocking but the scholars were also scared that a simple street sweeper could know more then them. They were the high and mighty of the town. No one was supposed to know anything, no one was supposed to have any knowledge but them. For humans being so smart the scholars didn’t invent much. Even with the remains of some past inventions they didn’t have much. This was because they were afraid to take chances. Besides they were all supposed to be the same. One person couldn’t go away from the others to figure something out for themselves. Another way that they showed fear of the unknown was the “uncharted forest”. It was the uncharted forest because they were too afraid to search it and look for anything, more land to build on, wood to use for numerous things, past technology. If no one was to take a risk then we would have nothing. We would know nothing about the earth, we would have nothing to eat, nothing to travel on, we probably wouldn’t even be here if people were too afraid to reproduce. I can’t imagine how people would function without taking chances. Equality 7-2521 was not like his brothers, he wanted to see what was out there, he wanted to learn. The girl he fell in love with, as he calls her “the golden one”, even said “Your eyes are as a flame, but our brothers have neither hope nor fire. Your mouth is cut of granite, but our brothers are soft and humble. Your head is high, but our brothers cringe. You walk, but our brothers crawl. We wish to be damned with you, rather than blessed with all our brothers. Do as you please with us, but do not send us away from you.” (Chapter 9 beginning). She feels the same as Equality 7-2521. She wants to see what