Anthem Summary and Analysis
by Ayn Rand
Equality 7-2521 does not write in his journal for several days because he does not need words to record these events. On his second day in the forest, he hears footsteps behind him, so he hides in the bushes and waits. Finally, he sees a white tunic and a hint of gold, and he runs out to find the Golden One. Her hands close into fists, and her arms straighten as her body sways.
At first, she does not speak, and he does not dare approach her. In a shaky voice, he asks her why she came, and she says in a whisper that she has found him. He asks again, and she raises her head and proudly telling him that she followed him. She tells him that everyone in the City had been speaking of how he had entered the Uncharted Forest, so she ran away in the night and followed his trail into the forest.
Her tunic and arms are torn by the branches, but she does not seem to care, and she tells him that she will follow him, even if it means danger, death, and damnation. In a low but bitterly triumphant voice, she compares his eyes to fire and his proud mouth to granite and says that the other men lack hope and fire and that they are too soft and modest. Saying that she would rather be damned in his company than be blessed and remain with the others, she kneels before him.
Equality 7-2521 kneels, but instead of helping the Golden One to her feet, they kiss and embrace each other for a long time. He is startled because he has lived for twenty-one years without knowing joy. He tells her not to fear the forest or solitude and that she should forget good and evil. They decide to forget everything but their bond and their new world, and they hold hands as they continue into the forest.
They begin making love at night, and Equality 7-2521 realizes that sex is not a matter of shame but rather one of ecstasy. They walk away from the City each day, using a handmade bow and arrows to kill birds for food while gathering water and fruit in the forest. At night, they sleep in a ring of fire to protect themselves from animals. He hopes to build a house one day but is content to continue walking.
He does not understand his new, simple life, but forgets his questions as he watches the Golden One and her beauty as she walks through the forest. However, as they travel in silence, he continues to wonder about the truth of whether solitude is truly evil. He notices that although he has been taught to find joy only in working for others, he was only tired when he did so and only now finds joy as he lives for himself, and he wonders about where their thinking about morality went wrong.
One day, the Golden One tells him, "We love you," but frowns because something in the statement is not right. She then says slowly, "We are one…alone…and only…and we love you who are one…alone…and only," but they both know that they have not quite grasped something significant. They are missing an unknown word.
While the previous chapter concludes with Equality 7-2521 feeling that he cannot speak because he does not have the necessary understanding, he opens the next journal entry saying that he does not write because he feels recent events so intuitively that he has not needed to explain. On the one hand, he still does not know how to express his search for the Unspeakable Word. He has been increasingly articulate about his rejection of the ideals of his society, noting that he now doubts the collectivist teachings that glorify the many and castigate the individual. He knows that he has only been happy when working for himself and not for his brothers, but he cannot yet explain the error in their philosophy. On the other hand, his experience of love with the Golden One has been so logical and obvious that it has clarified the puzzle.
In his desire for truth and knowledge, Equality 7-2521 uses a rational approach much as he did with electricity, albeit with a slightly different dependent variable. When he constructed his glass box, he knew he had come closer to success when the box worked, but his search for the Unspeakable Word and for the true nature of morality is akin to the search for happiness. When he achieves happiness, as in his first day in the forest, his creation of the glass box, and his reunion with the Golden One, then he gathers another clue to the concept for which he searches. He and the Golden One continue to walk away from the City through the Uncharted Forest, and he mentions that he plans to build a house one day, although he is not in a hurry. His movement from the City to his own house parallels his search for the Word.
As Equality 7-2521 discovers love with the aid of the Golden One, he continues to equate love to the sharing of his convictions with someone of the same essence. Basing his conclusions on his trips to the Palace of Mating, he equated sex with shame, but now that it is a personal choice rather than a social fulfillment, he is no longer humiliated by the act. Love makes him happy because such a significant and now guiltless form of having a preference naturally concludes in happiness. He loves himself, and the Golden One is like himself, so their love is an extension of his self-love. However, because they do not yet have the Unspeakable Word, the Golden One is unable to tell him "I love you" with the proper implications, and they consequently feel denied.
The Golden One acts both as Equality 7-2521's lover and disciple. She continues as his foil, echoing his admirable attributes and discomfort with the teachings of their society, but she has not yet traveled as far as Equality 7-2521 has down the road away from collectivism. She feels drawn to him and chooses to break from the Home of the Peasants and follow him, but she still believes that she is damned, as evidenced by her words and her bitter, triumphant voice. She is at an earlier stage of self development, and he teaches her, informing her that solitude does not damn as the authorities have claimed.
To some extent, Rand portrays the Golden One as Equality 7-2521's disciple because she is not the main character and does not have her remaining belief in collectivism destroyed as thoroughly as his has been, but the feminist reading of her character finds her to be lacking. Rand describes her as the ultimate female, but Equality 7-2521 worships her for her appearance and her obedience only to a worthy man rather than for anything that she has actually accomplished. He gleans all her positive qualities from her body, and even his name for her, the Golden One, reflects her hair and not her real self, whereas "the Unconquered," her name for him, describes the essence of his spirit. He never follows her, and her position as the symbolic mother of humanity extends solely from his position as the symbolic father. Nevertheless, she has the aura of being his equal.
Anthem Essays and Related Content
- Anthem: Major Themes
- Anthem: Questions
- Anthem: Purchase the Novel and Related Material
- Ayn Rand: Biography
- Anthem Summary
- About Anthem
- Character List
- Glossary of Terms
- Major Themes
- Quotes and Analysis
- Summary and Analysis of Chapter One
- Summary and Analysis of Chapter Two
- Summary and Analysis of Chapter Three
- Summary and Analysis of Chapter Four
- Summary and Analysis of Chapter Five
- Summary and Analysis of Chapter Six
- Summary and Analysis of Chapter Seven
- Summary and Analysis of Chapter Eight
- Summary and Analysis of Chapter Nine
- Summary and Analysis of Chapter Ten
- Summary and Analysis of Chapter Eleven
- Summary and Analysis of Chapter Twelve
- The Case Against Objectivism
- Related Links on Anthem
- Suggested Essay Questions
- Test Yourself! - Quiz 1
- Test Yourself! - Quiz 2
- Test Yourself! - Quiz 3
- Test Yourself! - Quiz 4
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