Anthem

Equality 7-2521 Character Analysis

The strong, intelligent, and creative protagonist of Anthem. Despite his exceptional talents and interest in science, Equality 7-2521’s collectivist society forces him to work as a Street Sweeper and encourages him to feel ashamed of his individualism and self-motivation. Equality 7-2521 indulges his creativity by spending years working clandestinely to invent a light bulb, but when he triumphantly presents this invention to the World Council of Scholars, they call him a selfish heretic. This incident prompts him to flee his City, and over time, Equality 7-2521 learns to defy societal proscriptions against egocentrism and value his own happiness above all else. At the book’s conclusion, he renames himself Prometheus, makes a home deep in the Uncharted Forest with his beloved, The Golden One, and plans to start a new civilization of egotists.

Equality 7-2521 Quotes in Anthem

The Anthem quotes below are all either spoken by Equality 7-2521 or refer to Equality 7-2521. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Individualism Theme Icon
). Note: all page and citation info for the quotes below refers to the Dover Publications edition of Anthem published in 2014.
Chapter 1 Quotes

It is a sin to write this. It is a sin to think words no others think and to put them down upon a paper no others are to see. It is base and evil. It is as if we were speaking alone to no ears but our own. And we know well that there is no transgression blacker than to do or think alone. We have broken the laws. The laws say that men may not write unless the Council of Vocations bid them so. May we be forgiven!

Related Characters: Equality 7-2521 (speaker)
Related Symbols: “We”
Page Number: 1
Explanation and Analysis:

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We were born with a curse. It has always driven us to thoughts which are forbidden. It has always given us wishes which men may not wish. We know that we are evil, but there is no will in us and no power to resist it. This is our wonder and our secret fear, that we know and do not resist.

Related Characters: Equality 7-2521 (speaker)
Related Symbols: “We”
Page Number: 2
Explanation and Analysis:

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And questions give us no rest. We know not why our curse makes us seek we know not what, ever and ever. But we cannot resist it. It whispers to us that there are great things on this earth of ours, and that we can know them if we try, and that we must know them. We ask, why must we know, but it has no answer to give us. We must know that we may know.

Related Characters: Equality 7-2521 (speaker)
Related Symbols: “We”
Page Number: 8
Explanation and Analysis:

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International 4-8818 and we are friends. This is an evil thing to say, for it is a transgression, the great Transgression of Preference, to love any among men better than the others, since we must love all men and all men are our friends. So International 4-8818 and we have never spoken of it. But we know. We know, when we look into each other's eyes. And when we look thus without words, we both know other things also, strange things for which there are no words, and these things frighten us.

Related Characters: Equality 7-2521 (speaker), International 4-8818
Page Number: 14
Explanation and Analysis:

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And yet there is no shame in us and no regret. We say to ourselves that we are a wretch and a traitor. But we feel no burden upon our spirit and no fear in our heart. And it seems to us that our spirit is clear as a lake troubled by no eyes save those of the sun. And in our heart -- strange are the ways of evil! -- in our heart there is the first peace we have known in twenty years.

Related Characters: Equality 7-2521 (speaker)
Page Number: 21
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 5 Quotes

We stretch out our arms. For the first time do we know how strong our arms are. And a strange thought comes to us: we wonder, for the first time in our life, what we look like. Men never see their own faces and never ask their brothers about it, for it is evil to have concern for their own faces or bodies. But tonight, for a reason we cannot fathom, we wish it were possible to us to know the likeness of our own person.

Related Characters: Equality 7-2521 (speaker)
Page Number: 45-46
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 6 Quotes

Tomorrow, in the full light of day, we shall take our box, and leave our tunnel open, and walk through the streets to the Home of the Scholars. We shall put before them the greatest gift ever offered to men. We shall tell them the truth. We shall hand to them, as our confession, these pages we have written. We shall join our hands to theirs, and we shall work together, with the power of the sky, for the glory of mankind.

Related Characters: Equality 7-2521 (speaker)
Related Symbols: “We”, Light and the Light Bulb
Page Number: 51
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 7 Quotes

"A Street Sweeper! A Street Sweeper walking in upon the World Council of Scholars! It is not to be believed! It is against all the rules and all the laws!"

Related Characters: The World Council of Scholars (speaker), Equality 7-2521
Page Number: 53
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 8 Quotes

We sat still and we held our breath. For our face and our body were beautiful. Our face was not like the faces of our brothers, for we felt no pity when looking upon it. Our body was not like the bodies of our brothers, for our limbs were straight and thin and hard and strong. And we thought that we could trust this being who looked upon us from the stream, and that we had nothing to fear with this being.

Related Characters: Equality 7-2521 (speaker)
Page Number: 64
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 9 Quotes

We shall follow you wherever you go. If danger threatens you, we shall face it also. If it be death, we shall die with you. You are damned, and we wish to share your damnation.

Related Characters: The Golden One (speaker), Equality 7-2521
Page Number: 66
Explanation and Analysis:

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We have broken the law, but we have never doubted it. Yet now, as we walk through the forest, we are learning to doubt.

Related Characters: Equality 7-2521 (speaker)
Page Number: 69-70
Explanation and Analysis:

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We looked into each other's eyes and we knew that the breath of a miracle had touched us, and fled, and left us groping vainly. And we felt torn, torn for some word we could not find.

Related Characters: Equality 7-2521 (speaker), The Golden One
Related Symbols: “We”
Page Number: 71
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 10 Quotes

And now we look upon the earth and sky. This spread of naked rock and peaks and moonlight is like a world ready to be born, a world that waits. It seems to us it asks a sign from us, a spark, a first commandment. We cannot know what word we are to give, nor what great deed this earth expects to witness. We know it waits. It seems to say it has great gifts to lay before us, but it wishes a greater gift from us. We are to speak. We are to give its goal, its highest meaning to all this glowing space of rock and sky.

Related Characters: Equality 7-2521 (speaker)
Page Number: 76-77
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 11 Quotes

Many words have been granted me, and some are wise, and some are false, but only three are holy: "I will it!"

Related Characters: Equality 7-2521 (speaker)
Page Number: 78-79
Explanation and Analysis:

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My happiness is not the means to any end. It is the end. It is its own goal. It is its own purpose.

Related Characters: Equality 7-2521 (speaker)
Page Number: 79
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 12 Quotes

And here, over the portals of my fort, I shall cut in the stone the word which is to be my beacon and my banner. The word which will not die, should we all perish in battle. The word which can never die on this earth, for it is the heart of it and the meaning and the glory. The sacred word: EGO

Related Characters: Equality 7-2521 (speaker)
Page Number: 88-89
Explanation and Analysis:

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Equality 7-2521 Character Timeline in Anthem

The timeline below shows where the character Equality 7-2521 appears in Anthem. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 1
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“It is a sin to write this,” begins an entry in Equality 7-2521’s journal. He always refers to himself using the second-person plural, “we,” and explains that his... (full context)
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Equality 7-2521 explains that he is 21 years old, and his tall, strong body and his active,... (full context)
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Equality 7-2521 recounts his childhood in the Home of the Infants, where he was disciplined for fighting... (full context)
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For four years, Equality 7-2521 performed the menial, routine tasks demanded of the Street Sweepers, until he committed a “crime”... (full context)
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Once he descends the ladder, Equality 7-2521 finds himself in a large tunnel. He finds metal tracks on the ground and soon... (full context)
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From then on, Equality 7-2521 sneaks away from the mandatory entertainment every night and spends time in his secret tunnel.... (full context)
Chapter 2
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Equality 7-2521 is captivated by a woman named Liberty 5-3000, even though it is forbidden to take... (full context)
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Even though it is a sin to give others distinctive names, Equality 7-2521 now thinks of Liberty 5-3000 as “The Golden One.” He thinks of her often, even... (full context)
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One day, Equality 7-2521 speaks to the Golden One. He tells her that she is beautiful, and they confide... (full context)
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Later that night, Equality 7-2521 is reprimanded for singing joyfully at the dinner table. It is considered improper to sing... (full context)
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Before bed, Equality 7-2521 looks out at the Uncharted Forest that lies outside the city. Rarely, some men are... (full context)
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Equality 7-2521 longs to learn these secrets, and reflects on the fact that there is an Unspeakable... (full context)
Chapter 3
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Equality 7-2521 claims to have singlehandedly “discovered a new power of nature,” and he alone is privy... (full context)
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“Haunted” by this discovery, Equality 7-2521 performs more experiments to learn that metal conducts power from the sky, like lightning. Using... (full context)
Chapter 4
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After many days, Equality 7-2521 finds the Golden One again and speaks to her near her fields. He tells her... (full context)
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The Golden One then offers Equality 7-2521 some water to drink. Because he cannot cross the hedge, she kneels by the moat... (full context)
Chapter 5
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Equality 7-2521 has successfully created a strange device that he describes as a glass box housing a... (full context)
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Equality 7-2521 decides that he will promote his discovery so that all men can use it. Next... (full context)
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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... (full context)
Chapter 6
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Thirty days have passed since Equality 7-2521’s last journal entry. On the night he created his light bulb, he forgot to watch... (full context)
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Equality 7-2521 runs back to his tunnel hideout. The next day, he will show his invention at... (full context)
Chapter 7
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Equality 7-2521 is now in the Uncharted Forest. He will live there until he is ripped apart... (full context)
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The Scholars tell Equality 7-2521 that his invention—and his presumption that it will help empower mankind—go against the principles of... (full context)
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As he wanders the forest, Equality 7-2521 concludes that he is “doomed.” He finds solace in his invention, which he crafted in... (full context)
Chapter 8
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Equality 7-2521’s first day in the forest has turned out to be a refreshing, liberating encounter with... (full context)
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Equality 7-2521 walks through the forest until nightfall. He then recalls that he is now a complete... (full context)
Chapter 9
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Many days have passed since Equality 7-2521 has written in his journal. He did not have any desire to speak, and has... (full context)
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Equality 7-2521 asks the Golden One what she is doing in the forest, but she answers only... (full context)
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The Golden One continues to speak, with “bitterness and triumph” in her voice. Equality 7-2521 , she says, is fierce, hard, and defiant; unlike his brothers, who are weak and... (full context)
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Equality 7-2521 tells the Golden One that she has nothing to fear about the solitude of the... (full context)
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The two walk through the vast forest for days. Equality 7-2521 enjoys distancing himself from the City. He has made a bow and arrow, which he... (full context)
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Equality 7-2521 finds his new life far more straightforward than his previous one. He reveres the beauty... (full context)
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The Golden One tells Equality 7-2521 , “we love you.” But something sounds wrong about that phrase, and she takes it... (full context)
Chapter 10
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Equality 7-2521 sits at a table and writes this journal entry on paper that is thousands of... (full context)
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Before entering the house, Equality 7-2521 asks the Golden One if she is scared, and she says no, so the two... (full context)
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After inspecting the house, Equality 7-2521 tells the Golden One that they will inhabit the house until the end of their... (full context)
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At nightfall, the Golden One falls asleep, and Equality 7-2521 carries her to bed. He stays up reading the manuscripts by candlelight, knowing that he... (full context)
Chapter 11
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For the first time, Equality 7-2521 narrates in the first person. “I am. I think. I will,” he writes. The words... (full context)
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It is Equality 7-2521’s eyes that give beauty to what he sees, and his hearing is what allows for... (full context)
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Equality 7-2521 says that he does not know whether the earth is the center of the universe... (full context)
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Equality 7-2521 is neither a friend nor an enemy to his fellow man, and will only give... (full context)
Chapter 12
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Equality 7-2521 explains that he first encountered the word “I” in the first book he read in... (full context)
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...and that they should pick names for themselves. From his readings, he chooses the name Prometheus, after the figure from Greek mythology who stole fire from the Gods and brought it... (full context)
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Equality 7-2521 has also read about Gaea, the mythological earth-mother. He gives the Golden One this name,... (full context)
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Equality 7-2521, now Prometheus, sees his future clearly before him. He is the successor to the Saint of the... (full context)
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Prometheus has learned that his light bulb relies on something the men from the Unmentionable Times... (full context)
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Gaea is pregnant with a child, and Prometheus says he will teach his son to live as a man and speak “I” proudly.... (full context)
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“Freedom,” to Prometheus, simply requires that man be free from his brothers. At first, men were enslaved by... (full context)
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Prometheus ponders how such greatness in human spirit could have faded to such cowardliness, but knows... (full context)