How are names and name-changes in Anthem significant and how do they contribute to the novella's meaning?
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All of the characters have names which convey unity and collectivity. The society of this novella is a dystopia in which all forms of individuality have been purposefully erased or forgotten. Even the word “I” and the basic concept of one “self” have been lost. That’s why the narrator refers to himself as "we" and why everyone’s name is a symbol or adjective for a social concept: Liberty, Unity, International or Equality.
Equality 7-2521 begins to read, experiment, and learn things by himself. When he learns the concept of individuality, he begins using “I.” He acquires the concepts of learning, creativity and individuality together.
In Greek mythology, Prometheus stole fire from the gods and gave it to mankind. This is an allegory for humanity acquiring knowledge. In a sense, learning to make fire was the beginning of humanity’s technology. This is fitting because Equality 7-2521 discovers electric light in his underground tunnel. He tries to share this knowledge with the Council but they reject him. Likewise, Prometheus was punished by the Gods for sharing fire with humans.
Equality 7-2521 changed Liberty 5-3000’s name to Gaea (Gaia). Gaea was the mother of the gods. Equality 7-2521 (aka Prometheus) decides that their children will be brought up with knowledge and books. Gaea is pregnant by this time. The idea is that their children will have access to so much knowledge that they will be like gods compared to the brainwashed masses who cling to anti-individualism.
The society in Anthem worships the word 'we'. They treat their fellow humans like brothers. They have 'names' that are really only significant with numbers, and they have no individuality. As the story goes on, the main character Equality 7-2521 names a woman 'the Golden One' for she is more beautiful than anything he sees. The Golden One becomes a key individual to Equality 7-2521 instead of one of his brothers. Later, when the Golden One tells him that she has given him a name as well, 'the Unconquered (I believe)', he realises that he has also become a individual that stands out in her eyes. The sense of individuality and identity is born within them. Later, as they live in the Uncharted Forest, they come to discover the word 'I'. This is the final key to realising true individuality instead of collectives. They come to realise of their identity as an individual, instead of being a part of their fellow brothers.
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