But International 4-8818 are different. They are a tall, strong youth and their eyes are like fireflies, for there is laughter in their eyes.
Here, Equality 7-2521 describes International 4-8818’s appearance and hints at his vibrant inner personality. Readers may note that the Transgressor of the Unspeakable Word also shares these features. In Anthem, the protagonists have features that set them apart from the others and make them unique. Each possesses an inner quality that seems to make him sparkle.
So International 4-8818 and we have never spoken of it. But we know. We know, when we look into each other’s eyes.
Equality 7-2521 reveals that he and International 4-8818 are friends, a punishable offense since the state of friendship denotes preference for one person over another, which is against the law. When International 4-8818 and Equality 7-2521 look into each other’s eyes, however, they cannot help but acknowledge their special bond, suggesting that no matter how oppressive, a collectivist society cannot suppress natural bonds.
“It is forbidden,” they answered.
International 4-8818 feels hesitant to go down to the tunnel he and Equality 7-2521 have just discovered. Here, he declares the obvious—entering the tunnel is forbidden, and he doesn’t want to break the law. International 4-8818 shares Equality 7-2521’s curiosity, but his desire to stay safe remains stronger.
They were frightened, but they stood by and watched us go.
Equality 7-2521 explains that International 4-8818 watched him enter the tunnel, even though International 4-8818 felt frightened and uncomfortable. Yet despite his apprehension, International 4-8818 doesn’t try to prevent Equality 7-2521 from going into the tunnel and eventually follows him in. International 4-8818 clearly feels torn between his desire to remain a law-abiding citizen and his loyalty to his friend.
Rather would we die.
International 4-8818 answers after Equality 7-2521 asks International 4-8818 if he would report him to the Council for going into the tunnel and witness him being lashed to death. International 4-8818’s response highlights his intense love and devotion to Equality 7-2521, a love that surpasses his intense fear of the Council.