There was only joy in them, and pride, a pride holier than it is fit for human pride to be.
Equality 7-2521 observes that there is only joy and pride in the eyes of the Transgressor of the Unspeakable Word’s eyes as he is burned on the pyre. To Equality 7-2521, such pride appears to be larger than even the Transgressor himself, for the emotion seems to be rooted in the holy. Equality 7-2521’s experience watching the Transgressor’s dramatic display of defiant peace in the face of death will stay with Equality 7-2521 throughout his life. This moment marks Equality 7-2521’s first experience with the fearlessness that comes with freedom.
And we thought that we could trust this being who looked upon us from the stream, and that we had nothing to fear with this being.
In the Unchartered Forest, Equality 7-2521 finds a stream. As he bends down to take a drink, he sees his reflection for the first time. Equality 7-2521 loses his breath looking down at this vision of his face. No longer does he consider his legs too long or his arms too strong or feel pity when considering the differences between his and another’s body. Instead, he finds himself beautiful, and for the first time, he trusts himself. In this moment of truly viewing himself, Equality 7-2521 begins to break free from the fear of individuality.
Our dearest one. Fear nothing of the forest. There is no danger in solitude. We have no need of our brothers.
Equality 7-2521 speaks these words to the Golden One when they reunite in the Unchartered Forest. The Golden One, though resolute in her decision to join Equality 7-2521 in exile, remains fearful of the consequences. Equality 7-2521 reassures her and shares the lesson he learned during his experiences in the tunnel and writing alone in his notebook. Individuals living in a collectivist society become weakened, and fear easily sets in. However, as this scene demonstrates, solitude allows one to find and feel the strength of his or her power.
I shall live here, in my own house. I shall take my food from the earth by the toil of my own hands.
When Equality 7-2521 finds an abandoned house in the Unchartered Forest, he finally has found a permanent place to establish and provide for himself and the Golden One. This last discovery represents the key to Equality 7-2521’s freedom. He no longer has to rely on the collective for his essential needs but can live by his own efforts alone. Such a moment implies that true freedom comes from independence and a turning away from the dependence on society.
To be free, a man must be free of his brothers. That is freedom. This and nothing else.
At the end of the novella, Equality 7-2521 summarizes what he has found to be an essential truth about life. Through his journey, Equality 7-2521 learned that the only way to be free in a collectivist society is to break free from its grips. He understands that freedom doesn’t exist if individual thought is suppressed and one is made completely dependent on the collective. Equality 7-2521’s words suggest that freedom and society represent a very black-and-white issue: Freedom can’t exist in a collectivist society.