Anthem Chapter 2 Summary

     In chapter two, Equality meets a woman named Liberty 5-3000. She works in the Home of the Peasants, and he clearly likes her. This chapter begins with some of the most descriptive words that appear in the novel as Equality describes watching Liberty 5-3000. It is against the law to talk to people in other jobs, but Equality smiles at Liberty, and she returns the smile. Another day he raises his hand as if shielding his eyes from the sun, and she returns the gesture, recognizing it as a secret wave. In his mind he begins to call her "the Golden One."

     Equality explains that men are not supposed to think of women in this way except during the Time of Mating. At this time men over twenty and women over eighteen are sent for one night to the City Palace of Mating with a person assigned to them by the Council of Eugenics in order to create children. Equality has gone twice to the palace, and he feels ashamed by the experience.

     One day he decides to speak to Liberty 5-3000. He tells her she is beautiful, which is a shocking thing to say. Then she asks his name. They make it clear that they see one another differently than they see the other people in their society. Equality learns that she is only seventeen, which relieves him to know that she has never been to the Palace of Mating. After their conversation, Equality found himself singing for no reason, and he was chastised for it. Even though it is forbidden not to be happy, it also isn't proper to sing without reason.

     At night at the Home of the Street sweepers, Equality describes how he feels an atmosphere filled with fear. He knows that others fear to speak what they're thinking because men cannot have thoughts that others do not share. He hears Solidarity 9-6347 scream out in the night and Fraternity 2-5503 crying and trembling. He knows they are unhappy.

     Equality describes that beyond the city is the Uncharted Forest. Men who enter there do not return. It is rumored to have wild beasts in it. He also describes how in the Unmentionable Times there were wars that led to fires, which ultimately led to the Great Rebirth. The fires caused the loss of a great deal of information from those times.

     Finally, Equality mentions that there is an Unspeakable Word, which men can't speak or hear. If someone says it, he is killed. Equality witnessed this crime in his youth. A man said the word, so he had his tongue cut out and was burned at the stake. Equality watched him as he burned, and he saw the man smiling. The man who knew this word seemed happier than everyone else watching him. Equality wondered what that word could be.

     The further readers go in this book, the more questions they may ask. Some people wonder what their names mean. Others wonder how often they procreate. How do they keep their numbers steady? What is the unspeakable word? Could an event such as the Great Rebirth actually happen? How? This novel excels at making people analyze their own society to decide whether the laws are fair, and society has enough or too much control over their own lives.

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