When does the novella begin in the protagonist’s timeline?

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price7781 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The novella, Anthem, starts with the opening line, “It is a sin to write this.”  The writer is, of course, Equality, and he is in the tunnel he discovers below the city in which he lives.  He sneaks out of the nightly plays and meetings he is supposed to attend to do experiments and make new discoveries with the articles he finds in the tunnel left over from the Unmentionable Times.  The novella opens with Equality writing, in a flashback to his past.  It is a confessional piece because Equality knows that he has committed many transgressions against his society.  He has stolen candles (a 10-year prison sentence), he sneaks away from meetings to work in the tunnel, he is thinking, and is alone.  As he writes this confession, Equality is still unaware of the word, “I”, and still believes in the tenets of his collective society, although in his heart he knows it is wrong.  He later discovers the truth of the Unmentionable Times when he escapes to the Uncharted Forest and stumbles upon a house full of books.