Summary and Analysis
Equality 7-2521 and the Golden One discover a house in the depths of the forest, a house such as they have never seen resting on a broad summit with the mountains behind it. The house has two stories, a flat roof, and walls made more of glass than of any other substance. They immediately understand that no one they know built this structure. The house is a remnant of the Unmentionable Times.
Equality 7-2521 realizes that they will need years to understand all that they find in the house. They are surprised by the smallness of the rooms and decide that no more than 12 men could have occupied them. When they come to the bedroom and find only two beds, they are baffled by the recognition that this building was home to but two persons. They find clothes that are not limited to white tunics or togas, but are of diverse colors and styles. They encounter mirrors, and Equality 7-2521 notices on the walls the same globes of wire-filled glass that he had seen in his tunnel. He is amazed when he comes to the library and finds shelves of books. He ascertains that they are written in their language and decides that the next day he will begin to read them.
When they look at all of the house's rooms, Equality 7-2521 says to the Golden One that the house is theirs. It belongs to them alone; they will not leave or allow it to be taken from them. He says that they will not share it with others in the sense that they do not share their love or their joy or their hunger. The Golden One agrees.
That night Equality 7-2521 does not sleep. He senses that the earth awaits his command, that in some way he and the Golden One are to give it "its goal, its highest meaning." He does not know what word he is to speak or what deed he is to perform. He knows only that the final fulfillment of the earth's promise must come from him and those like him, but he lacks the knowledge necessary to bring these great deeds to pass. What is the secret, he wonders, that his heart has grasped but his mind is yet to comprehend?
Their discovery of a home surviving from the Unmentionable Times is significant because it links them in physical action, as well as in spirit, to the attainments of the lost era. Equality 7-2521 had intended to build a home, which would be a great accomplishment. But a home that he would build would not express the kinship existing between him and the freethinkers of the past who had reached such lofty achievements. By finding and occupying a home from the forgotten era, Equality 7-2521 and the Golden One not only derive practical benefits from the lost advances but also immerse themselves in the world they seek to re-create. The great thinker who re-invents electric light links himself inextricably with the independent thinkers of the past who originally created it.
Equality 7-2521 realizes that the books in the home can provide the knowledge possessed by those of the Unmentionable Times, secrets lost for centuries. His decision to study the books is a continuation of his crusade to gain both scientific understanding of nature and a moral and philosophical understanding of humankind. His research into the "power of the sky" and his harnessing of electricity to create light are obvious examples of his scientific discoveries. But his philosophizing is of even greater importance. He is one of the few in his society, like the executed Saint of the Pyre, who searches for the Unspeakable Word and for the precious knowledge represented by this word.
Equality 7-2521's noblest quality (which will result in his greatest achievement) is his unflinching quest to rediscover the individualistic nature of man and the political liberty that such a nature requires. Against every type of social opposition, he persists in this endeavor until, in this chapter, with the books at his disposal of those who understood these sacred truths, he stands on the threshold of the wisdom he seeks. He is as great a philosopher as he is a scientist. The books of the individualistic, capitalist past will give him the knowledge denied to those in his collectivist present.