Anthem

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Anthem Chapter 5 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Equality 7-2521 has successfully created a strange device that he describes as a glass box housing a glowing wire—in other words, a light bulb. He begins to comprehend the scope of his discovery: men will be able to illuminate all the Cities of the world using nothing more than metal and wires. Mankind can harness power from the skies and use it to do their will.
There is strong symbolic significance to Equality 7-2521’s discovery: not only is he rescuing his brethren from literal darkness, but he is also rescuing them from the figurative darkness that their bleak collectivist culture has imposed upon them. His self-empowerment allows him to harness the literal power of electricity.
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Equality 7-2521 decides that he will promote his discovery so that all men can use it. Next month, the World Council of Scholars will meet in his City, and he will present his light bulb to them. He hopes that the Council will understand that his invention was worth the transgressions he committed to develop it.
Here, Equality 7-2521 seems to have struck a balanced compromise between individualism and collectivist altruism. He is willing and able to pursue his own constructive passions, but he is also committed to sharing his resources to the betterment of his fellow man. It is unclear whether Rand, later in her career, would have advocated the altruistic way in which Equality 7-2521 plans to share his invention.
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As he thinks about his invention, Equality 7-2521 realizes that he is proud not just of what he created, but also of himself for being capable of creating it. He notices how strong his arms are, and he wonders for the first time what he looks like. It is forbidden to see one’s own reflection, but for reasons he cannot understand, Equality 7-2521 is very interested in seeing his.
Equality 7-2521’s evolution into a fully-fledged individual continues in this scene. He is now able to conceptualize his invention as an individual achievement—one for which he, and he alone, is responsible.
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