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Anthem | Study Guide

Ayn Rand

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Anthem | Chapter 12 | Summary



When Equality 7-2521 reads the word "I" and understands its meaning, he weeps for the first time in his life. He understands that his lifelong "curse" was a blessing. The first words Liberty 5-3000 speaks when learning the word "I" are "I love you." He responds by telling her they need to choose names. Equality 7-2521 takes the name Prometheus, and she takes the name Gaea. Equality 7-2521/Prometheus looks to a future in which he plans to bring hope to his friends still under the yoke of the evil collective. He reports that Liberty 5-3000/Gaea is pregnant and that his own son will be taught in the ways of the individual.

He wonders how it was possible that men were once able to give up their freedoms. But he is encouraged that even when man is in chains, the spirit of freedom resides within him, and "man will go on." He pledges to fight for the rights of man, and he finally reveals the sacred word: Ego.


Now that he has discovered the word "I," Equality 7-2521 sets about on plans to share it with others. First, he shares it with Liberty 5-3000, and she is finally able to say "I love you" with the correct vocabulary. Then he chooses a name for himself. The name he chooses is symbolic of his view of himself as a "bearer of light," for as he explains, Prometheus "took the light of the gods and brought it to men." Light is once again used here as a symbol for knowledge, and it is Equality 7-2521's goal to bring his knowledge of the holy "I" to the men still in captivity, even if he suffers for it.

It is interesting to note that Liberty 5-3000 does not go the books as a primary source of knowledge, but relies on Equality 7-2521's interpretation of it. She also passively accepts the name he suggests for her instead of seeking out her own. One might argue that because she has not actively pursued knowledge the way Equality 7-2521 has, she is lagging behind him in self-actualization. Gaea may be the name of a goddess, but her primary role was to be the mother of other gods. The reader can assume this is the role Equality 7-2521 expects Liberty 5-3000 to take as well—she will be the mother of his sons and otherwise take no active leading part in Equality 7-2521's future society of individuals.

For this future society of individuals, Equality 7-2521 plans to recruit his friends first, liberating them from the collective chains that bind them. He declares he will "call ... all the men and the women whose spirit has not been killed within them," and together they will "write the first chapter in the new history of man." Having read the books in the library from the Unmentionable Times, Equality 7-2521 has learned that men have been made into slaves by many masters: by gods (antiquity), kings (medieval period), by situation of birth (post-industrial revolution), and finally by the evils of the collective. His ultimate goal is to destroy the councils and free all men. He believes he can do this because of the ineptitude of evil. He says that because of their adherence to collectivism, "their minds are shackled to the weakest and dullest among them." Because his mind is free, he can defeat them with his innovation. And therein lies the reason for the collective to stamp out individual thought: those who can think for themselves can understand how inept a society ruled by a collective is and call out for freedom.

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