In Ayn Rand's Anthem, why doesn't the protagonist feel shame or remorse when he knows that he's committing a crime?

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Lori Steinbach eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In truth, the protagonist of Ayn Rand's novella Anthem does feel that he is “wretch and a traitor" for having a secret hideaway and for conducting his illegal experiments. However, that guilt is far outweighed by the freedom his spirit feels as he feeds his hunger for the knowledge which has been forbidden to him for so long.

Equality 7-2521 has been relegated to Street Sweeper for life--which essentially ends at forty when all men are worn out and required to enter the House of the Useless. His existence is miserable in every way and he is not to blame for that, which is why he does not feel guilty about breaking the law. In his mind, the las is unjust and deprives men and women of their basic right to think. He believes 

the secrets of this earth are not for all men to see, but only for those who will seek them.

What Equality 7-2521does feel a bit badly about is involving others in his work, but even that does not amount to much when compared to his exultation and joy when he learns, discovers, and thinks (i.e., breaks the law).