Ayn Rand fled Communist Russia and vehemently rejected its collectivist ideology. Why then did she set her first novel in the Soviet Union? What kind of story did she want to tell and what ideas did she aim to communicate? In this lesson, you’ll learn about the background to the writing and publication of We the Living, exploring Rand’s goals in writing the novel, her reasons for calling We the Living “as near to an autobiography as I will ever write,” and the obstacles she faced getting the book published during America’s “Red Decade.”

Spoiler alert: This lesson assumes that students have read We the Living.