Anthem Summary

Anthem by Ayn Rand

     Anthem is a dystopian novel by Ayn Rand set in the future after the world was ravaged by war and fire and began again with a Great Rebirth. The new rulers, called the World Council, set up many laws to ensure that this new society would not have the same problems that they had experienced during what they refer to as the Unmentionable Times, or the times before the rebirth. People are given names that represent the virtues of the society along with numbers, such as Equality 7-2521, who is the protagonist of the story. The book is written in diary form from his point of view as he records the events that happened to him beginning around age twenty-one.

     Equality 7-2521 realizes at a young age that he is different from his brothers not only due to his excessive height, which is six feet tall, but also due to his intelligence. Equality 7-2521 often gets reprimanded in school for knowing too much or wanting to learn more. He wishes to someday become a scholar, but the Council of Vocations decides he must become a street sweeper instead in what appears to be a punishment for his bad behavior. Since he was not supposed to have preferred one job over another in the first place, he considers this job a fitting way for him to work off the guilt of his previous transgressions.

     One day he and International 4-8818, whom he considers a friend even though he isn't supposed to have friends, find a tunnel in the ground. Equality climbs down into the tunnel and discovers tracks left over from the Unmentionable Times. He decides to use this secret place as a location to collect objects and perform experiments in an attempt to learn about the world. Since their schedules are very rigid, he can only sneak out at night for three hours during the theater performance. While in his tunnel, he is able to discover electricity and later create a battery.

     Also as he is working, he finds a girl named Liberty 5-3000 whom he adores. He is not supposed to communicate with people from other professions, but he and Liberty begin having short conversations where they express their interest in one another. He even touches her hand when she offers him a drink of water; touching the opposite sex would only occur in their society when they are sent once a year to the Palace of Mating with an assigned partner to procreate. He nicknames Liberty the Golden One, and she calls him the Unconquered.

     One day he accidentally spends more than three hours in the tunnel and returns to the Home of the Street Sweepers late. They send him to the Palace of Corrective Detention where they whip him until he will reveal where he was, but he refuses. He does not want them to find the new battery that lights up that he has created. He plans to show this invention to the World Council because he believes they will be impressed and make him a scholar. Therefore, he escapes from prison, grabs his invention, and presents it. The World Council is unhappy with all the rules he has broken, and they threaten to destroy his invention, so he grabs it and jumps out the window.

     He runs away and ends up in the Uncharted Forest, which surrounds their community. For the first time, Equality 7-2521 experiences real freedom. On his second day, the Golden One joins him, having also run away. He is thrilled to see her and kisses her for the first time. They walk through the forest until they find a house left from the Unmentionable Times; they decide to live there. After reading books that he finds, Equality discovers the Unspeakable Word that they were not allowed to say in his society, which was I. He realizes the leaders had taken away all individualism and tried to make everyone the same even forcing them to refer to themselves as "we." He renames himself Prometheus and calls Liberty Gaea. Someday he plans to return to the community to rescue some of his friends who he believes might realize how terrible their society really is. He wants to start a new civilization where people can once again have egos and be unique.

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Anthem Chapter 1 Summary
Anthem Chapter 1 Quiz
Anthem Chapter 1 Part 2 Quiz
Anthem Chapter 2 Quiz
Anthem Chapters 3-5 Quiz
Anthem Chapters 6-7 Quiz
Anthem Chapters 8-10 Quiz
Anthem Chapters 11-12 Quiz
Anthem Chapter 1 Part 2 Summary
Anthem Chapter 2 Summary
Anthem Chapters 3-5 Summary
Anthem Chapters 6-7 Summary
Anthem Chapters 8-10 Summary
Anthem Chapters 11-12 Summary
Anthem Important Characters
Literature Summaries

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