How a Book Beat Teen Struggles

Dear Teen Ink Magazine, My name is Cole. I am sixteen years old, live in San Antonio, Texas, and I am currently attending high school.

I am taking English Two Gifted and Talented, and my class recently read the well known novel Anthem, and analyzed its unique style of writing, as well as its strong portrayal of objectivism throughout the plot. While at first I approached reading this book as simply another dull novel that was supposed to have many deep insights into life, or society, or human nature, I quickly began to realize that Anthem is actually a very thought provoking book, especially for students my age. Teenagers are stereotyped by modern books, film, and society as muddled and emotional when it comes to making difficult decisions or quote-on-quote “finding themselves”, and for the most part, this is true. The combination of school stresses, peer pressures, and the dreaded stages of puberty make for a crazy solution of confusion, and the crazy choices that many teens make during their years of grade school can be life-changing. Ayn Rand’s Anthem introduces a sort of philosophy (objectivism) that I believe can help teens find their way through the struggles that many of us experience at this stage in our life. While the issues that we deal with may not be as immense, intense, or imposing as the duties that are placed upon as later as we enter adulthood, I believe objectivism can completely change a youth’s view on the common problems that they experience on a day-to-day basis.

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Simply put, objectivism is the philosophy that one does not owe anything to someone else (or vice-versa), works hard to achieve their set goals, and forgets the envy of others. We are all taught as a child that basic acts such as “sharing” and “compassion” are common when interacting with others, and that we will benefit from doing so. But as we grow older, we are told that these basic acts will become less and less of the norm in the real world. In the novel Anthem, the main character Equality learns that he must fend for himself so he can become his own person and be who he wants to be. Through Equality’s discoveries and his realizations about how society operated in the Unmentionable Times (I’m not going to say anything that Equality says or does in the book to avoid spoiling anything), the ideas behind objectivism are revealed to us. Objectivism allows us to determine specific goals for us to achieve in life, and while it shows us that we must reach these goals on our own, doing so will allow us to grow as individuals without the fear or dependance of others around us.

This philosophy not only teaches us to work for our own benefit, it also helps us realize that what the people around us think should not be placed above our own ideas and beliefs. I believe the message that this novel portrays can completely change a teens perspective on daily struggles like the need to fit in or be accepted by others. By reading this book, I have learned to, in a sense, think and act for myself rather than revolving my thoughts and actions around other people’s’ opinion of me. I think that it’s important for us as teens to learn that we should not be dependant on others and their beliefs, but rather to create our own path and develop into the person that we want to be. Anthem’s message can help us define who we are as a person when we may be confused about what to follow in life and how to act around others.

Other people are always going to be against what we think or dislike us for just being who we are, but thinking as an objectivist can help to forget these struggles that are placed on us at this age by society, and to become stronger and more successful individuals. Anthem is a great novel that who’s message provides many benefits for all readers, especially teenagers. Every teenager, no matter where they are from, how many people like them, or how they appear the us on the outside experiences the same peer pressures and issues that everyone else does. Objectivism can not only help us find our way through this confusing time in life, but it can give us the tools to achieve more and become who we want to be later in life.