A street sweeper, the protagonist of the novella. Equality 7-2521, who later renames himself Prometheus, believes in individualism and rejects the collectivist society around him. He is vain and self-centered, strong, beautiful, and intelligent. He is deeply curious and desires freedom to explore and think, and he is unafraid of the society of mindless drones around him. Equality 7-2521 represents the superiority of a singular intellect to the homogeneity of the masses, who cannot think for themselves and are indistinguishable from one another.
The Golden One
A beautiful peasant with whom Equality 7-2521 falls madly in love. The Golden One demonstrates her subservience to Equality 7-2521 by allowing him to change her name from Liberty 5-3000 to the Golden One, and later, Gaea. The Golden One is proud and vain, strong and bitter. She loves Equality 7-2521 because he is different from most men around her. With him, she grapples with a desire to find the word “I” in order to express her love for him. The Golden One is relatively underdeveloped as a character, functioning mostly as the object of Equality 7-2521’s affection.
The Transgressor of the Unspeakable Word
A martyr for the word “I.” The Transgressor of the Unspeakable Word suffers no pain as he is burned alive because he knows the meaning of individualism. His death foreshadows the suffering and exile of Equality 7-2521, and he represents the way to die properly, in Rand’s view, for the cause of egoism.
Equality 7-2521’s only friend. International 4-8818 views Equality 7-2521 as a prophet. When he and Equality 7-2521 discover the tunnel in which Equality 7-2521 hides to write his journal and make his discoveries, he is torn between loyalty to his friend and his desire not to break the law. International 4-8818 represents the citizen who secretly seeks his own meaning but is unable to realize it because he cannot take the step of breaking with his society.
The leader of the World Council of Scholars. Collective 0-0009 is shapeless and cowardly, like all members of the World Council. He fears and hates Equality 7-2521 for breaking the rules because he believes that only those decisions reached by the council can be of value. Collective 0-0009 represents the thinking force behind the evil collectivism of the city.