For the book ANthem by Ayn Rand
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An ols one is simply a person who reaches age 40. Equality 7-2521 knows that at age forty, he will be sent to the retirement Home of the Useless as an Old One or, if he lives past forty-five, an Ancient One. Thes designations show how little the elderly is respected. They are no longer considered productive and hence relegated to homes where they die. This society is fixated on youth and certain tangable traits which make the "world Council" stronger.
An old one is a man between the ages of 40 and 45; an ancient one would be someone past the age of 45.
" Without a will to live for anything but their brothers, the men in the Home of the Useless consequently have no power to make a decision of their own; to do so is against the law. They have no will to live for anything but the benefit of their brothers, have no pleasures aside from ensuring the health of their brothers, have no strength to go on living once they become too old to work for their brothers. Put in the Home of the Useless when men turn forty, useless those men become.
At the age of forty-five, those Old Ones in the Home of the Useless become Ancient Ones. How, then, have they survived for so long in what may be dubbed an inane existence? They are old and feeble and tired, and they they can not work for the good of their brothers. Why, then, do they continue to live? Are they perhaps burdened by some strain of the same curse Equality 7-2521 was told he had, the curse of being different from the whole of men? Has the curse come to them in their old age to corrupt them, is it this curse which causes them to mutter under their breaths of the Unmentionable Times? It is a sin to speak of the Unmentionable Times; should anything pertaining to that era be found, it is to be reported to the council so that it might be destroyed. But the Ancient Ones murmur to themselves of these times, and no punishment seems to come to them. No punishment that is acknowledged by the common men, but maybe a different brand of torment is given to these weary, useless men; the punishment of knowing, and even worse to be left alone with only their will to attempt and stave off their curse. It would not take long for a wish to die to infiltrate these wretched mens' thoughts. Death would be a welcome release from their curse of solitude in their struggle. And in the end, whether the Council takes mercy upon their hearts or whether their torment ends by natural means, the miraculous Ancient Ones would soon die.
In the final few chapters of Anthem, Equality 7-2521 renames himself Prometheus and scorns the word "we". The only power he will acknowledge from then on will be the power he himself controls; the ability to carve his own fate with his own mind; the human ego. This stark difference to the attitude of his brothers may possibly be an omen of the longevity that Prometheus might enjoy after freeing a select few of his brothers from the clutch of the mighty WE. The philosopher Lucretius once said, "One who no longer is cannot suffer." The power of human ego defies this statement. Those who were not suffered without knowing they suffered; the one who was will outlive them all."