A Quote to Live By

‘I’m going to build because I want to build.

Kira Argounova, We the Living

Though her indifference and relatively abstract taste draws criticism from her family, Kira Argounova from Ayn Rand’s We the Living displays a will that is a force to be reckoned with.

This passion seems to contradict Kira’s usual indifference. It seems strange that a someone like Kira, who barely registers what’s going on around her, would want to be so involved with creating the world in which she lives. What’s even more peculiar is that Kira chooses to work in the “…modern favorite profession of theirs [the Soviets]… [an] engineer”, though she does not support Communism and is a White (1). It seems logical that Kira, who claims to enjoy building, would go into a field that would allow her to build: engineering.

However, Kira’s mother, sister, and cousin all disagree in the name of feminity. Kira’s mother, Galina simply can’t believe that a daughter of hers would stoop to do such work and Lydia, Kira’s sister, chimes in, saying that it would be dirty and that there would be no women to confide in. Victor advises his cousin to become a typist, remarking that it is not such a bad starting place for a woman to rise in ranks and that the rations are good. He is similarly appalled that she should make such a choice and suggests that she reconsider, a thought that Kira shuts down almost immediately.

Though Kira is definitely stubborn, I can’t help but admire her resoluteness and focus. True, she only focuses on what she likes and doesn’t have much regard for “normal” activities, but her unwavering decision to do as she likes is something to admire. Many of the characters in the book cannot claim to be living as they want to or doing as they wish. If they are trying, they are doing it timidly, fearful of their own desires. Kira isn’t controlled by the standards of feminity, as her mother and sister are nor by party dictates as her cousin is. Whether she be a socialite in the making in Russia or a citizen of the Soviet Union, Kira is ultimately, just Kira.

  1. White: supporter of the army that fought against the idea of Bolshevik socialism; a variety of political stances were represented
A Quote to Live By