Chapter 1 Summary
Writing is now a sin, and thinking or doing something alone is the worst imaginable sin. No one may write without the permission of the Council of Vocations, and there is no other movement in the dark tunnel. It is against the law to be alone anymore, ever, for this is the root of all evil; and he has broken many laws.
He stole the candle from the storeroom of the Home of the Street Sweepers; if he is caught, he will spend ten years in the Palace of Corrective Detention. His name is Equality 7-2521. That is what is written on the iron bracelet that every man wears on his left wrist. He is twenty-one years old and six feet tall, something very few others are. Teachers and Leaders always point him out as having evil in his bones because his body has grown more than any of his brothers. Equality 7-2521 was born with a curse: he always has had forbidden thoughts and wishes that others do not have.
All men must be the same. Above the doors of the Palace of the World Council are ancient words that men often recite: “We are one in all and all in one. There are no men but only the great WE, One indivisible and forever.” The World Council has been the home of all truth since the Great Rebirth. Thinking about the times before the Great Rebirth is punishable by three years in the Palace of Corrective Detention.
The Old Ones living in the Home of the Useless whisper about such things as the evil Unmentionable Times—wagons that moved without horses and lights that burned without flame. Those times have been absorbed into the Great Truth that “all men are one and that there is no will save the will of all men together.”
All other men are good and wise; only Equality 7-2521 is cursed. Born in the Home of Infants, Equality 7-2521 lived there with all the other children of the City until he was five. His greatest crime was fighting with his brothers, and Equality 7-2521 was locked in the cellar for committing this offense. He was sent to the Home of Students (a hundred beds and stark white walls, with all movements regulated by bells), where he had to progress...
(The entire section is 860 words.)