Open to all 8th, 9th, 10th, 11th, and 12th grade students worldwide
Type(s) of Writing
Philosophy (ethics), Sociology, Literature
Expected # of References
April 25, 2024
The Ayn Rand Essay Contest is for students with an inquisitive mind, who care about philosophy, individuality, and exploring the depth of a literary text. For the past four decades, the Ayn Rand Institute has allowed high school students to dissect Rand’s novels, and search for deeper meanings and personal connections to passages and themes within her texts. Whether you choose to write about Anthem, The Fountainhead, or Atlas Shrugged, the Ayn Rand Essay Contest will ask you to second-guess what you think you know about society and build a new understanding of critical analysis in the process.
The Ayn Rand Essay Contest offers three different prompts each for Anthem, The Fountainhead, and Atlas Shrugged. With new prompts every year, students can select the prompt that speaks to them the most and write a quality essay. As clients explore the relevance of a quote or a novel’s title, they learn how to approach literary analyses from a micro level, while also relating key themes or messages in the text to Rand’s philosophies—as well as their own.
The consulting team at J&B advocates independent thought, inquiry, and confidence. By collaborating with students and helping them craft their arguments, J&B approaches the Ayn Rand Essay Contest as a dual learning opportunity: a chance to analyze an iconic text and trust the value of your voice and insights.
Prompt #1: Is the world of Anthem a depiction of a possible future? Do you think Ayn Rand intended it to be? Defend your answers by pointing both to specific events in the story and to examples from today or from history that support your claims.
Prompt #2: In the society of Anthem, one of the worst sins is the “Transgression of Preference.” Using examples both from the novel and from real life, discuss the role of preferences in the formation of a person’s individual character. Why do you think the leaders of the society teach that it is immoral to prefer one person or thing over others? In your answer, consider what role preferences play in your own life.
Prompt #3: In Chapter XII of Anthem, Prometheus says that the worship of the word “We” caused modern society to collapse into ruins. Explain what he means by this, referring to specific details from the novel. Are there widespread attitudes in your society today that represent “worship of the word ‘We’”? If so, what impact does this “worship” have on your society and on your own life? If not, what fundamental attitudes and ideas explain the difference between your society and the society in Anthem?