Thirty days have passed since Equality 7-2521’s last journal entry. On the night he created his light bulb, he forgot to watch his hourglass to make sure he returned to the City Theatre on time. He returns alone to the Home of the Street Sweepers, and is questioned about what he had been doing. Equality 7-2521 will not give up his secret, so the Council of the Home has him taken to the Palace of Corrective Detention and lashed. He suffers countless blows, but refuses to disclose where he has been, and only says “the light…the light…the light…”
Again, Equality 7-2521’s individual willpower proves too much for his collectivist society to overcome. No matter what the establishment tries to do, they are unable to get him to yield his individual secret. This is one of Rand’s ways of illustrating the perseverance of the individual will over oppressive conditions.
The interrogators give up and leave Equality 7-2521 imprisoned for many days. Finally, Equality 7-2521 decides to escape, because the World Council of Scholars is scheduled to meet the next day. He easily breaks the old locks on the doors, which have been left in disrepair because no man has dared defy the Council by attempting an escape.
Equality 7-2521’s easy escape shows that his peers have become so mindlessly loyal to the establishment that they will not even exert their individual wills against the Council by attempting to escape from prison.
Equality 7-2521 runs back to his tunnel hideout. The next day, he will show his invention at the Home of the Scholars. He is confident they will collaborate with him to use the power of the sky for the benefit of all mankind. Equality 7-2521 feels that in a day’s time he will no longer be a social outcast.
Up to this point, it seems as though Equality 7-2521 may be conducting his experiments with the overall interest of the collective in mind, rather than his own personal benefit. However, this sort of selfless behavior is something Rand condemns, and something Equality 7-2521 will be rid of by the time the book is over.