The Emergence of The Autonomous Individual
Hyacinth Pink
Dr. Hyacinth Pink, Professor & Head, Department of English, Kumaraguru College of Technology, Chinnavedampatti, Coimbatore (Tamil Nadu), India.
Manuscript received on June 15, 2019. | Revised Manuscript received on July 09, 2019. | Manuscript published on July 15, 2019. | PP: 8-24 | Volume-3 Issue-11, July 2019. | Retrieval Number: K02990731119/2019©BEIESP | DOI10.35940/ijmh.K0299.0731119
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Abstract: This research article titled “The Emergence of the Autonomous Individual “explores the early fiction of Ayn Rand and Chinua Achebe and proceeds with the assumption that the autonomous individual is seen emerging in Ayn Rand‟s We the Living (1936) and Anthem (1938) and in Chinua Achebe‟s Things Fall Apart (1958) and Arrow of God (1964) respectively. In the fiction of Ayn Rand, the researcher explores the nature of the individual from the socio-political context. Rand‟s Anthem follows We the Living chronologically, and is set in Communist Russia and trigger off the rise of the individual. Though Chinua Achebe‟s Arrow of God does not follow Things Fall Apart chronologically, these two novels are set in the Ibo tradition and spark off the beginnings of the quest for the individual. Both Rand and Achebe have been brought together for this study as each author supports to a very large extent, the opposite poles of the hypothesis which, is: Whether the sphere of moral and imaginative values by which an individual functions in society is at once autonomous or related to society. The hypothesis is analyzed in three phases here .Each phase demonstrates the different stages in the growth and development of „individualism.‟ This is discussed against the background of the different texts chosen for each phase. This article attempts to specifically portray the struggle of four protagonists, namely (Kira Arugounova of We The Living, Equality 7-2521 of Anthem, Okonkwo of Things Fall Apart and Ezeulu of Arrow of God) against two different kinds of claustrophobic societies: Rand‟s Communistic Society of Soviet Russia and Achebe‟s Ibo Society of Nigeria, both of which smother the life of the individual. Both Rand‟s and Achebe‟s novels highlight the theme of “The Emergence of the Autonomous Individual.” Rand‟s individuals who struggle to assert their individuality in this phase are Kira Argounova, Leo Kovalensky and Comrade Andrei Taganova of We the Living; Equality 7-2521 and Liberty 5-3000 of Anthem; Okonkwo and Nwoye of Things Fall Apart and Ezeulu of Arrow of God respectively. These individuals suffer and struggle, but their cause and manner of struggle vary. While Rand‟s protagonists attempts to break the fetters of Communism to which they are tied and liberate themselves to individual freedom, happiness and self fulfillment; Achebe‟s individuals, in this phase, struggle to maintain the dignity of their own Ibo society, which the white man ignorantly attempts to destroy. Though both the societies represent the collective, they are absolutely contrastive in nature. But both the societies are common in their functioning, in the sense, that both societies control the lives and activity of the individuals to a large extent. Kira Argounova and Leo Kovalensky of We The Living and Equality 7-2521 and Liberty 5-3000 of Anthem are portrayed struggling to combat the terrible tyranny of a paralyzing, dictatorial state on the one hand; while Okonkowo of Things Fall Apart and Ezeulu of Arrow of God are trying to break away from a traditional-communal bound ethos, and assert their own individuality on the other.
Keywords: Ayn Rand‟s We the Living, Chinua Achebe‟s Things Fall Apart, chronologically, hypothesis, Okonkwo and Nwoye, Rand‟s protagonists, Kovalensky, Okonkowo, Ezeulu.