Anthem

Power Theme Analysis

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LitCharts assigns a color and icon to each theme in Anthem, which you can use to track the themes throughout the work.
Power Theme Icon

In several senses, power is what allows Equality 7-2521 to assert himself as a unique individual over the stultifying conditions imposed on him by society. The most literal way in which power sets the protagonist apart is through his commanding physique. Unlike his brethren, who are weak and pitiful in appearance, Equality 7-2521 is tall and muscular. On first viewing his reflection, Equality 7-2521 remembers that “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.” Equality 7-2521 is also mentally powerful, and his intellect is underutilized by the job of Sweet Sweeper that he is arbitrarily assigned.

Moreover, Equality 7-2521 uses this mental power to harness another sort of power. Through secret study, Equality 7-2521 gains an understanding of electricity and assembles a functional light bulb, which he presents to the World Council of Scholars. “Let us all work together, and harness this power, and make it ease the toil of men,” he triumphantly proclaims. The Scholars, however, lack Equality 7-2521’s willingness to embrace this power, and instead fear the new invention. Equality 7-2521’s most empowering characteristic, then—even greater than his powers themselves—is that he readily takes advantage of his powers, even when his society forbids doing so. The most despicable characters in Anthem are not necessarily the weakest characters, but rather those who, like the Council, work in the name of false ideals to prevent the strong from exercising their individual power. Thus, Rand illustrates that it is of paramount importance for individuals to understand and maximize their own powers and abilities, and use these abilities for their own betterment.

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Power ThemeTracker

The ThemeTracker below shows where, and to what degree, the theme of Power appears in each chapter of Anthem. Click or tap on any chapter to read its Summary & Analysis.
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Power Quotes in Anthem

Below you will find the important quotes in Anthem related to the theme of Power.
Chapter 1 Quotes

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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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 2 Quotes

And as we look upon the Uncharted Forest far in the night, we think of the secrets of the Unmentionable Times. And we wonder how it came to pass that these secrets were lost to the world. We have heard the legends of the great fighting, in which many men fought on one side and only a few on the other. These few were the Evil Ones and they were conquered. Then great fires raged over the land. And in these fires the Evil Ones were burned. And the fire which is called the Dawn of the Great Rebirth, was the Script Fire where all the scripts of the Evil Ones were burned, and with them all the words of the Evil Ones. Great mountains of flame stood in the squares of the Cities for three months. Then came the Great Rebirth.

Page Number: 32-33
Explanation and Analysis:

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But it seemed to us that the eyes of the Transgressor had chosen us from the crowd and were looking straight upon us. There was no pain in their eyes and no knowledge of the agony of their body. There was only joy in them, and pride, a pride holier than it is fit for human pride to be.

Page Number: 35
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 3 Quotes

We, Equality 7-2521, have discovered a new power of nature. And we have discovered it alone, and we are alone to know it.

Related Symbols: Light and the Light Bulb
Page Number: 36
Explanation and Analysis:

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No single one can possess greater wisdom than the many Scholars who are elected by all men for their wisdom. Yet we can. We do. We have fought against saying it, but now it is said. We do not care. We forget all men, all laws and all things save our metals and our wires. So much is still to be learned! So long a road lies before us, and what care we if we must travel it alone!

Related Characters: The World Council of Scholars
Related Symbols: Light and the Light Bulb
Page Number: 38
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 5 Quotes

We made it. We created it. We brought it forth from the night of the ages. We alone. Our hands. Our mind. Ours alone and only.

Related Symbols: “We”, Light and the Light Bulb
Page Number: 43
Explanation and Analysis:

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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 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 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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