“I swear – by my life and my love of it – that I will never live for the sake of another man, nor ask another man to live for mine” (Rand 979). The last lines of John Galt’s speech in Atlas Shrugged declare the fundamental principle of Ayn Rand’s philosophy of Objectivism. Her ideology plays an integral role in her literary pieces, functioning as the motor driving the actions, goals, and beliefs of the protagonists. From the first strains of Objectivism established during her childhood in Russia, Ayn Rand would develop and cultivate her ideas further in each novel, culminating in her magnum opus, Atlas Shrugged. We the Living, The Fountainhead, and Anthem share the theme of Atlas Shrugged, and The Fountainhead and Anthem would join the
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50). Ayn Rand left for America in 1926 to live with relatives in Chicago (Heller 2684). At this point Rand abandoned the last trappings of collectivism and became a patron of individualism in all aspects of life: personal, political, moral and economic; with time she would become one of the strongest proponents of the Anti-Communist Movement in America (Heller 2684). Rand’s experiences under totalitarian rule provide a base on which to draw when writing.
Rand’s first novel, We the Living, is set in the Russia of Rand’s childhood (Gladstein 371). The novel spans the Russian Civil War and the beginnings of the Communist Era. Ayn Rand condemns the USSR while highlighting the severe treatment of civilians by the Communist Party; unlike so many other novels, she does not depict in detail or emphasize the prison camps, the lack of trials, and the harshness of the unforgiving law (Branden, N. 297). Instead, she will set the individual as the center theme of her work (Gladstein 370). We the Living illustrates the “daily conditions” of those living in the USSR (Branden, N. 297). It is the only novel in which Rand presents the collectivists sympathetically; Andrei, a member of the Communist Party is sincere and well-meaning in what he believes (Branden, N. 298). There are hints at the parasitical nature of collectivism in the novel; Communism is by nature considered parasitical by Rand because one man benefits from the work and effort of