Why does Equality 7-2521 respect the Saint of the Pyre?

1 Answer

ladyvols1's profile pic

ladyvols1 | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Senior Educator

Posted on

In the novella Anthem by Ayn Rand, the character Equality 7-2521 realizes he is different.  In chapter 2 he meets Liberty 5-3000.  The story is written in plural forms of pronouns because there is no individuality in this world.  The concept of the individual has been destroyed by altursim; the collective.

After a day when Equality 7-2521 has broken several of the society rules, one of which is telling Liberty that she is beautiful, he is reprimanded for being too happy and for singing for no reason.  He goes to bed that night recalling that when he was 10 years old he witnessed the execution of the Transgressor.  This man was burned on a pyre for speaking the "Unspeakable Word."

Near the end of chapter two Equality 7-2521 remembers the look on the Transgressor's face.  He remembers that he had never seen a saint, but he imagined that this look on the Transgressor's face was the face of a saint.  He admired the Transgressor, even though he didn't understand why.  He wanted to know, even though it would mean death, why he was different and what was the Unspeakable Word.  Rand writes:

"And we thought then, standing in the square, that the likeness of a Saint was the face we saw before us in the flames, the face of the Transgressor of the Unspeakable Word."

At the end of the novel Equality realizes the word is Ego.