Equality 7-2521 (Prometheus) The hero of the story. He is a man of unbending independence living in a dark age of a future totalitarian state. The state commands him to be a Street Sweeper, but he is fascinated by science and secretly performs research on his own. He discovers the electric light, and ultimately hopes to lead the establishment of a freer society.
Liberty 5-3000 (Gaea) The young woman whom Equality 7-2521 loves. She is as spiritually unconquered as is the hero, and when he is damned by society, she follows him alone into the Uncharted Forest. She would rather die with the man of her choice than live in a society where individuality is prohibited.
International 4-8818 Friend of Equality 7-2521. Because there is laughter in his eyes — and because, with charcoal, he drew humorous pictures on walls — he was sent by the Council of Vocations to the Home of the Street Sweepers.
Saint of the Pyre A young man whom Equality 7-2521, in his youth, witnessed being burned at the stake. The man had discovered the Unspeakable Word. He seems to pick Equality 7-2521 from the crowd, seeking to communicate some meaning, an action that foreshadows Equality 7-2521’s future.
Fraternity 2-5503 A Street Sweeper. He is “a quiet boy with wise, kind eyes, who cry suddenly, without reason.” His body shakes with sobs that he cannot explain.
Solidarity 9-6347 Another Street Sweeper. He is bright and exhibits no fear in the day, but he screams in his sleep: “Help us! Help us!” in a voice that chills those who hear it. The doctors cannot cure him.
Evil Ones The leaders of an earlier capitalist era, prior to the current collectivist dictatorship. They believed that individuals had the right to their own lives and seek their own happiness and had established a system of political and economic freedom.
Collective 0-0009 The oldest and “wisest” of the World Council of Scholars. He condemns Equality 7-2521 for daring to think for himself. In his power lust and condemnation of independent thought, he represents all the governing Councils. Collective means group and is used in this culture to denote the utter submersion of an individual into the social whole.
Union 5-3992 Another Street Sweeper. He is “a sickly lad,” who suffers from possessing “half a brain.” The unfortunate Union 5-3992, in his ailment, is a symbol of collectivism: Collectivism prefers unthinking obedience to the independent mind.