What did The Unconquered learn about the Scholars? How does this information undercut the established power structure of this society?
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Despite Equality 7-2521's optimism and belief that the World Council of Scholars will reward him for his invention of the glass box, his meeting with the Scholars forms the climax of the novel, after which he is irreparably cut off from his society. The Scholars' dismissal of his invention breaks his last emotional connection to the ideals of collectivism and ends the section of the story that features a conflict between man and society. After this point, the development of Equality 7-2521's understanding of ego continues, but the collectivist community is no longer a looming presence and constrictor of the protagonist's actions. The end of Chapter Seven marks the nadir of Equality 7-2521's emotions, but he enters the Uncharted Forest with no more illusions about his society.
Prior to his entry to the World Council of Scholars, Equality 7-2521 still expects that those as wise as the Scholars would be inclined to rationality over fear. Since he was young, he has identified himself in spirit with the Scholars and believes that, like him, they weigh human life and happiness over the law of the state. However, he finally learns that he has been wrong and that the entire collectivist system is flawed rather than merely some of its members.
Rand's depiction of the Home of the Scholars contrasts the reality of the Council of Scholars with the ironic mention of "famous names" and the "illustrious men who had invented the candle." The idea of fame suggests a certain level of separation from the common man that seems more individualist than collectivist, and accordingly the concept of invention is associated with fame and achievement. However, the candle came long before the Great Rebirth, and the members of the Council are huddled "as shapeless clouds," again emphasizing the bodiless nature of collectivism. They are confused by the presence of an intruder, for just as no one had ever thought to escape the Palace of Corrective Detention, no one has thought to interrupt the World Council, and they are particularly shocked by his low status.
The behavior of the Council of Scholars suggest that any group is ineffective and that the ills of Soviet Russia were not simply the result of faulty execution. Their insistence that all must agree in order for something to be true makes knowledge subjective, in contrast to Equality 7-2521's Objectivist ideas, and it causes stagnation as the weakest and most frightened sectors of society slow progress. They cannot agree on how to use new technology and rank obedience above prosperity or learning. Even the de facto spokesperson who has some mild claim to individualism, Collective 0-0009, rejects him. Significantly, the suggestions of Democracy 4-6698 and Unanimity 7-3304 equate Equality 7-2521's sin of individual thought to the only crime officially punishable by death, the speaking of the Unspeakable Word.