The theme of We the Living is the evil of the collectivist state. The book conveys that theme by showing in grim detail how the novel’s characters are suffocated and crushed under Soviet communism. In this lesson — the first of two lessons analyzing the characters of We the Living — you’ll focus on a number of the minor characters in the story, such as Kira’s father, Alexander, and her cousin, Irina. What explains the fate of each of these characters, and how do their individual stories support Rand’s theme?

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