Ayn Rand

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Anthem: Chapter 8 Summary & Analysis

Equality 7-2521’s first day in the forest has turned out to be a refreshing, liberating encounter with nature. He climbs a tree and realizes that he is laughing aloud in delight. He makes his way through the forest, eating when he is hungry, satisfied by his ability to hunt to obtain what he needs. Equality 7-2521 comes across a stream and is taken aback by his reflection, which he sees for the first time. He is struck by his beauty—his face and body do not inspire pity, like the features of his comrades do. Heartened by his appearance, he realizes that he has “nothing to fear” in his own company.
Once he is away from collectivist society’s toxic influence, it does not take much time for Equality 7-2521 to begin appreciating life as he should. His first-time experience of his own reflection is another definitive moment in his separation from the collective. Equality 7-2521’s strong, comforting appearance further sets him apart from his pathetic comrades and makes it clear that individualism is a safe and proper way of life.
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Equality 7-2521 walks through the forest until nightfall. He then recalls that he is now a complete outlaw—one of the “Damned.” Instead of distressing him, this thought only makes him laugh. He concludes that he has a great deal to speak about on his own, but has yet to find the words to express his thoughts. He cannot yet speak of his thoughts because he cannot yet understand them.
Gradually, Equality 7-2521 is losing touch with the collectivist values that had been inculcated in him all his life. Though he still thinks of himself as a damned sinner, he is beginning to embrace that understanding and to see that there is nothing wrong with his lifestyle.
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