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In the end, I suspect it was Prometheus’s example of unconstrained freedom and his stated purpose to become the center of the world that most attracted my students at Chapel Hill to Anthem. This is the secret dream of all adolescents, no doubt, but also of many others, Rand included. Yet, as Rand’s life attests, the end for all who follow this dream is not happiness, but a deep-rooted dissatisfaction. While she accomplished much good in her life, she lived a paranoid, vindictive existence, and ended it estranged from almost all of her remaining family and friends, dying in her home in New York under the care of her lone remaining disciple.
Micah Mattix is Assistant Professor of Literature at Houston Baptist University and Reviews Editor of The City. His forthcoming book is Frank O’Hara and the Poetics of Saying ‘I’ (Fairleigh Dickinson University Press). 85