There is evil in your bones, Equality 7-2521, for your body has grown beyond the bodies of your brothers.
At the beginning of the novella, Equality 7-2521 tells readers that the Teachers and Leaders of the collective often tell him that “there is evil” in his bones simply because he is growing taller than his peers. Equality 7-2521’s above-average height sets him apart from the others, both physically and metaphorically, for his height symbolizes his growing individuality. In reality, all members of the collective have a unique self, but they are only aware of such a fact to the degree to which they allow themselves. Not all have the unique ability to break free from their suppression.
What—even if we have to burn for it like the Saint of the pyre—what is the Unspeakable Word?
These words express Equality 7-2521’s most poignant reflection upon watching the public burning of the Transgressor of the Unspeakable Word. What word, Equality 7-2521 ponders, could warrant such brutal torture as punishment? The word is later revealed to be I, a word Equality 7-2521 discovers for himself in the books he finds in the house in the Unchartered Forest. Watching the Transgressor’s fate becomes an important moment in Equality 7-2521’s journey toward individuality, since the moment confirms the gravity of his situation.
We made it. We created it. We brought it forth from the night of the ages. We alone. Our hands. Our mind. Ours alone and only.
Equality 7-2521’s creation of electricity imbues him with a sense of his own power, which he clearly expresses here. For the first time, Equality 7-2521 feels what it’s like to create something of his own will. The repetition of the words we and our symbolizes his affirmation of his newfound sense of individuality, a sense that will ultimately completely break him from society. Equality 7-2521 does not yet have the correct pronouns to refer to himself, which creates a level of absurdity Rand uses to expose what she sees as the intense degree to which collectivism suppresses the individual.
[W]e wonder, for the first time in our life, what we look like.
After he creates electricity, Equality 7-2521 begins to feel curious about his appearance. Readers may infer that he wants to put a face to the person who created such a remarkable gift to mankind. Catalyzed by his discovery, Equality 7-2521 is beginning to feel his “I” and personhood, which leads to a desire to define himself even on a visual level. Rand shows how individuality and creativity are linked, one giving birth to the other.
“It shall be your name,” said the Golden One.
After Equality 7-2521 declares his new name to be Prometheus, the Golden One stands before him and reaffirms his announcement. The Golden One acts as witness to Equality 7-2521’s naming, making his newfound identity a reality. Naming is incredibly important in the novella since the act of naming signifies not only individuality but possession. In collectivist societies, neither is permitted. With this act, Equality 7-2521 has established both his individuality and possession of his self, in one anarchic stance against collectivism.
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