In Ayn Rand's novel Anthem, why does the Council of Vocations assign Equality the job of street sweeper?

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tinicraw | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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The Council of Vocations is a group of men who decide where each person will work when they come of age (18 years old). Each person must go to that job until s/he is about forty years old, at which time they enter the Home of the Useless. A person's vocation is a way in which the society can use his or her talents effectively and for the benefit of everyone; however, it is also a way of controlling people. Equality is assigned the roll of a street sweeper because it is a job where he would be less inclined to use his brain to create rifts in the system. At school, Equality was never satisfied with the limited education that he was given by the instructors. Equality's brain sought out more information through inquiry. This type of behavior is not encouraged in Equality's society because if one person seeks to learn more, then she or he may want credit for what she or he discovers. Also, if new information or technology is discovered by one person, then he or she might want to change the society, which is what the elders and councils of the society do not want. This is a society that lives in darkness and fear in order to control people from becoming individuals. Individuality is abhorred in Equality's community; therefore, had Equality received any other job that would have piqued his interested in learning more, the councils would have found themselves losing control of him. If they lose control of one person, the whole community would be in jeopardy of changing or evolving--again, an idea that the councils did not want to have happen.