Quicklet on Ayn Rand's We the Living

by Danielle Clark

What's in the book?

Quicklets: Your reading sidekick!

    • About the Book
    • About the Author
    • Synopsis
    • Chapter-By-Chapter Commentary & Summary
    • Key Character List
    • Key Terms and Definitions
    • Additional Resources and Reading



The closest thing to an autobiography of Ayn Rand's early life, We the Living follows the main protagonist Kira as she tries to survive in an oppressive country that will not let her attend school, hold a steady job, or lead a normal life because her family belonged to the upper class before a cataclysmic war.


Danielle Clark has an M.F.A. in Creative Writing from St. Mary's College of California and a B.A. in English Literature from UC Davis. She currently resides in the Bay Area and works as a Journalist in San Francisco's Financial District.


Rand uses an omniscient third person point of view narrator who goes into the head of every character, sometimes even characters passing on the street. In doing this, the reader sees how the proletariat is broken down by the Communist Party. The people who are constantly being made to work are not seen as individuals, but as part of the whole working class. Kira notes several times when she is going through the motions of her daily life how she has been reduced to the status of a living machine through the constant routine of work, eat, sleep. The theme of work is used several times throughout the novel in an ironic sense as well.

Throughout We The Living, Rand takes many excursions from the plot of the story to go off on multi-page descriptive tangents. At the beginning of almost every chapter the narrative veers into winding sensory images that describe the bustling life in her hometown of Petrograd. The omniscient narrative steps into the mind of almost every character encountered in Petrograd. Since We The Living was Rand’s first attempt to write a long work in English she wanted to focus on a setting that she felt very comfortable with, and the best way to do that was to focus on her hometown.

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