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Anthem | Study Guide

Ayn Rand

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Anthem | Chapter 5 | Summary



Equality 7-2521 has built a box with wires that lights up. He blows out the candle, and all he can see in the darkness is the glowing orange of the wire. He decides to share his invention with the World Council of Scholars, which will occur in a month. He believes the council will forgive him because the value of his gift outweighs his sins. He realizes for the first time that he cares about his body and wishes to see himself.


Equality 7-2521 is triumphant in his discovery of electricity and claims he wishes to share it so it can benefit all men. To this end his aim is to present his invention at the World Council of Scholars. In fact, Equality 7-2521 subconsciously wishes to be recognized for his individual achievement, which proves that his society's way of doing things is wrong, and to be praised for ushering in a new, more innovative age. He will no longer be a lowly Street Sweeper but claim his rightful vocation as a Scholar. In all of his self-congratulation he underestimates the desire of the rulers to keep mankind in the dark ages. As it turns out in Chapter 7, the World Council of Scholars has no reason to want to accept Equality 7-2521's contribution, making their ineptitude all too clear.

Equality 7-2521 compares the veins that run through his body with the wire that runs through his invention. He understands that he is proud of the wire because he is proud of the hands that made it. He revels in his strength and wishes to "know" himself fully by seeing his own reflection. Seeing himself and his own physical beauty would be part of his transformation from identifying with the collective to identifying with himself on a personal level.

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