Equality 7-2521 is born with a curse: he wants to know…
Equality 7-2521 has been born with a curse that sets him off from everyone else: he's smart, and he has a genuine desire to know things. What he wants most of all is to grow in knowledge: about the world, and about himself. But society has forbidden him to undertake it. For that, and for other reasons, Equality 7-2521 is unhappy in his society, though he's afraid to admit it. His quest is an inner quest for knowledge and self-discovery, which will also turn out to be a quest for freedom from his society.
Equality 7-2521 finds the tunnel and starts to write and to experiment. He also falls in love.
Equality 7-2521's discovery of the tunnel one day allows him to leave his "City of Evil" behind for a few hours each day to conduct experiments and to write. Now that he has an opportunity to be alone, he's able to start pursuing his goal of knowledge about the world, and to start learning about himself. He also falls in love with Liberty 5-3000, which significantly changes the way he sees the world. Internally, he starts to grow increasingly distant from his society, and starts to recognize that everyone in it is ruled by fear. At the same time, he has feelings of guilt for breaking so many of society's laws.
Arrival and Frustration
Equality 7-2521 invents an electric light and gets punished.
Equality 7-2521's quest for knowledge culminates in a marvelous invention, which he believes can greatly help his society and make up for all of his past transgressions. Unfortunately, it's not quite clear how it will be received. And to top things off, Equality 7-2521 is caught breaking the rules on the very night of his success, and whipped and imprisoned.
The Final Ordeals
Equality 7-2521 confronts the Council of Scholars, and leaves his society behind in disgust. He wanders through the forest, alone.
Equality 7-2521 escapes from prison and goes to the Council of Scholars in the hopes of winning them over to his invention only to be completely rejected by them. He finally recognizes he can no longer remain in his society, and leaves. This deprives him of the only world he's ever known, and of the woman with whom he's just fallen in love. But by leaving society behind, he's also found freedom.
Equality 7-2521 is found by Liberty 5-3000, and they find a house together. Equality 7-2521 discovers the first-person singular, egoism, and the meaning of life.
Once Equality 7-2521's left the City, he starts to find all the things he's been looking for. Liberty 5-3000, his beloved, actually finds him in the forest. Then they find a house together, in which Equality 7-2521 discovers enough books and gizmos to keep him learning for a lifetime. In the books he also discovers the word "I," and with it (and a new name) finally acquires a full identity as an individual. He also discovers that he, as an individual, is the meaning of his own life and the highest thing in it. Quest completed.