The story of Anthem takes place in some unspecified future time and place in which freedom and individual rights have been obliterated. Collectivism — the political philosophy holding that an individual exists solely to serve the state — is dominant and has led to the establishment of a global dictatorship of the Fascist or Communist variety.
Equality 7-2521 is a Street Sweeper of the city, having been chosen for this profession by the Council of Vocations. However, he has always been fascinated by the phenomena of nature and can't help but wonder what power of the sky causes lightning and how it can be harnessed to human benefit. Because of his fascination with the Science of Things, he secretly desires to …show more content…
In the night, he wonders about the Uncharted Forests that exist across the land, covering the cities of the Unmentionable Times. He thinks of the Script Fire in which the books of the Evil Ones were burned, and he wonders about the secrets of the Evil Ones that have been lost to the world. Mostly, he wonders about the Unspeakable Word, the one idea held by the Evil Ones that has been lost. He remembers the fate of one who had discovered that word and had spoken it. His tongue had been ripped out, and he was burned at the stake. As a 10-year-old child, Equality 7-2521 had witnessed the execution. The transgressor seemed noble, and the child had thought that this was the face of one of the Saints about whom children had been taught. To the young Equality 7-2521, this Saint of the Pyre seemed to have gazed at him, picking him out from the crowd of onlookers. What, he wonders late at night, is the Unspeakable Word?
In his experiments, Equality 7-2521 discovers electricity. He uses it, after much effort, to create an electric light. He thinks that this light can be used to light the cities of the world. He wishes to show it to others, but knows that they will not understand and be frightened. In a month, the World Council of Scholars meets in his city. He knows what to do. The wisest minds among humankind will be there. They are the only ones who can understand his gift. He will wait and show it to them, and they will know how best to employ it for the …show more content…
He will learn what they knew and use the knowledge to create prosperity. He will build electric wires around his house to protect it and will steal back into the city to free his friend, International 4-8818, and any others who flock to the banner of liberty. The society he founds will make scientific and technological advances because the human mind will not be shackled; it will be free to think, to ask questions, and to explore. He believes that, in time, the world will hear of this free and prosperous society, and that the best individuals from around the globe will flood the roads leading to his city. They will live together in respect of each individual's right to live his or her own