Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand http://www.sparknotes.com/lit/atlasshrugged/
Suggested Answers to Study Questions
SparkNote by Julio Machado
Ayn Rand was born on February 2, 1905 in St. Petersburg, Russia. She grew up in a culture defined by mysticism and collectivism, and spent most of her life in open defiance of these principles. While still in high school, Rand witnessed the Kerensky Revolution, which she supported, and the Bolshevik Revolution, which she denounced. When the Communists came to power, her father's pharmacy was nationalized, driving the family to near starvation. After high school, Rand enrolled in the University of Petrograd to study philosophy and history. In 1925, Rand obtained a temporary visa to visit relatives in the United States. Rand never intended to return to her homeland. She obtained an extension of her visa and went to Hollywood to pursue a career as a screenwriter. She took a job as an extra on the set of King of Kings, a Cecil B. DeMille production. The next week, she met Frank O'Connor, whom she married in 1929.
For the next several years, she moved from occupation to occupation in Hollywood. In 1932, she sold her first screenplay, Red Pawn, to Universal Studios and had her first stage play, Night of January 16th, produced in Hollywood and later on Broadway. She completed her first novel, We the Living, in 1933, but was rejected by every publisher she approached. Finally, in 1936, Macmillan published the book in the United States. The novel was based on her years under Soviet Communism and was strongly criticized by the predominantly pro-Communist intelligentsia. She began writing The Fountainhead in 1935. As with her previous novel, she could not find a willing publisher. It was finally accepted by Bobbs-Merrill in 1943, and two years later became a bestseller through word-of-mouth. Instantly, Ayn Rand became the champion of individualism.
In 1957, she published Atlas Shrugged, her last and greatest work of fiction. She realized that in order to communicate the full meaning of her philosophy she would have to identify its principles in nonfiction form, and so for the next twenty-five years she devoted her life to the development and promotion of Objectivism, the philosophy of the ego. She died on March 6, 1982, in her New York City apartment, having sold more than twenty million copies of her books. Her life and work launched the Objectivist philosophic movement in America, a group that is still active today.
Dagny Taggart - Brilliant, independent, beautiful heiress of Taggart Transcontinental. Her passion in life is creation and achievement, and particularly the maintenance and development of her railroad. As the United States descends into a stupor of collectivism, and eventually tyranny, Dagny struggles to save Taggart from destruction. With time, she realizes that she has enslaved herself to a looters' government and renounces the world.
Hank Rearden - The greatest of the nation's industrialists, Rearden is a steel baron with an astonishing capacity to produce. For most of the novel, Rearden is trapped in a grueling, mind-bending duality. He refuses to apply the rigid code of his business ideals to his views on human beings. He would not hesitate to reject impure materials or incompetent workers in his own mills but, though the evidence is direct and undeniable, he cannot bring himself to judge an entire society. At first, he cannot see or understand the nature of the evil loose in the world, because of his unbending ability and willingness to accept responsibility for his own life. In any difficult situation, Rearden looks to himself first when trying to overcome difficulties or engineer solutions.
John Galt - Scientific genius, a man of immense moral capacity. His body is slender, strong, completely free of any superfluous features. He possesses an intransigent, unspeakably powerful mind. He is the physical and intellectual representation of man's ideal.
Francisco d'Anconia - Heir of the great d'Anconia fortune, a man of unbridled ability and creativity. Francisco excels without effort at everything he attempts. He is endowed with a prodigious capacity for producing wealth. He and Ragnar Danneskjold are Galt 's best friends, and the first two to join Galt's revolution.
Eddie Willers - A loyal, honest man who passionately loves a man's ability to create. Eddie and Dagny grew up together, and he now works as her assistant at Taggart Transcontinental. His love for the railroad brings him immense suffering as he is forced to watch its steady demise.
James Taggart (Jim) - Dagny 's brother, a deceptive, bitter man whose only real passion is the destruction of anything and everything great. Jim carefully conceals represses the nature of his depravity, but a single encounter with John Galt completely shatters his illusions and condemns him to spiritual death.
Ragnar Danneskjold - An aristocrat and great lover of justice, whose face has the perfect natural lines of amazing beauty. Ragnar's passion is philosophy and the supremacy of the human mind, but he becomes a pirate to demonstrate that brute physical force can never defeat power directed by an incisive and shrewd mind.
Dr. Robert Stadler - Once a brilliant professor and scientist, Stadler gave up his career and his independence when he supported the founding of the State Science Institute. Stadler hates John Galt and the purity Galt represents.
Hugh Akston - A one-time professor of philosophy at the Patrick Henry University. Akston is the last and greatest proponent of reason in a world rapidly decaying into mysticism and skepticism.
Wesley Mouch - A man remarkable in his complete mediocrity. After betraying Hank Rearden , Mouch schemes and stumbles his way to the most powerful position in the nation.
Lillian Rearden - Hank Rearden 's lifeless, beautiful wife. She married Rearden in order to destroy him, but eventually realizes that he is much too strong to be destroyed.
Ellis Wyatt - An oil tycoon, an unforgiving, immensely capable young man. Wyatt's success in Colorado stirs prodigious growth there. When the government burdens Colorado with impossible regulations and demands, Wyatt and his friends vanish one by one.
Dagny Taggart , a beautiful, ambitious woman, knows from the first years of her youth that she will one day run Taggart Transcontinental, the nation's largest and greatest railroad. She falls in love with Francisco d'Anconia , the future heir of the world's most powerful copper concern, D'Anconia Copper. They enjoy a brief, passionate love affair, but one day he reluctantly informs her that he has made a terribly difficult decision. Though he does not yet reveal the full nature of this decision, he warns her that soon she will feel that he has betrayed her. Over the next few years, he becomes a worthless, scandalous playboy.
Years later, the world has descended into a haze of hopelessness and corruption. Malicious, greedy men take power and seek to enslave the greatest of America's industrialists through government regulations. Dagny Taggart is now Vice-President in Charge of Operations for Taggart Transcontinental. She is burdened by the growing influence of these regulations, but her great love for her railroad motivates her to continue her struggle. Perhaps the greatest source of frustration for her is the unexplained disappearance of men who possess dynamic and focused minds. She is forced to fill crucial positions with incompetent, weak-willed men. As her workforce becomes less and less capable, Dagny takes on more and more responsibility. Industrial materials such as machine parts and raw metals become scarce. Dagny knows that there is some kind of destroyer loose on the world--a man capable of convincing the most passionate, adamant men in the world to abandon their work. In the midst of this turmoil, she falls in love with Hank Rearden , founder of Rearden Steel--the only decent steel company left in the country--and inventor of Rearden Metal, a lightweight, super-strong steel alloy. She and Rearden travel around the country in search of industrial machines. In an abandoned factory in Wisconsin, they stumble upon the incomplete model of an amazing invention, an engine capable of gathering static electricity from the air and producing huge amounts of power. Dagny vows to find the man behind this motor.
She knows that such an engine would revolutionize her railroad, so she hires a young scientist named Quentin Daniels to reconstruct it from the model and a few sketches she was able to find. He agrees to do so, amazed by the challenge and gravity of the mission. All around the country, more and more industrialists are disappearing. The government issues severe regulations to control the remaining businessmen, but everywhere men continue to disappear. One day, Dagny receives a letter from Quentin Daniels informing her that he will no longer work on the engine. He does not wish to offer the world such a gift. She flies to his home to try to dissuade him from retiring, but she arrives just in time to see him take off in a stranger's airplane. She follows the stranger into the Rocky Mountains and through an apparently lethal valley. The stranger's plane descends into the valley and suddenly disappears. Dagny, desperate to find Daniels, follows the plane into the rocks. As she approaches the floor, her engine suddenly dies and she crashes into what she thinks is certain death.
She wakes to find the most powerful, dashing man she has ever seen floating above her. His name is John Galt , and he is the destroyer Dagny had envisioned. He informs her that the lethal valley floor she saw was only an illusion. She looks around and finds herself in a green, peaceful oasis. Galt takes her to a town populated by the greatest of the retired industrialists. They are on strike, trying to demonstrate to the world that they are the driving force of civilization. Francisco arrives a few days later and informs her that he was one of the first men to quit. He remained as head of d'Anconia Copper in order to destroy it and bring many corrupt men down with it. Despite her ardent desire to remain among great men, Dagny decides to return to the world.
Rearden disappears after the government, seeking tighter control over the crucial steel industry, stages a violent strike in his mills. Dagny is happy that Rearden has escaped, but she is still tied to the world by her railroad. She discovers that John Galt has worked at Taggart Transcontinental for years, observing her actions. She seeks him out and they make love passionately and violently, with the force of long-suppressed desire. On a cold November night, Galt assumes control of every radio frequency in the country and delivers an astounding, brilliant speech, a declaration of principles and protest. The President believes that if he can get Galt to join the government, he can solve the nation's problems and bring the industrialists back. By having undercover agents follow Dagny, the government discovers Galt's home. They take him prisoner. The President offers him the position of Economic Dictator, but Galt only laughs. He wants only freedom for himself and for the people. Dagny finally accepts that maintaining her railroad helps to perpetuate political and social corruption. She plans to retire and join Galt. The Government officials torture Galt, but he refusees to break. Before they can inflict mortal injury, Dagny, Rearden, Francisco, and others rescue him from a government installation. As Dagny and Galt fly away from New York, the lights of the greatest city in America go out one by one. The world is in ruins, the government has lost control. When they return to the valley, Galt informs Dagny that the road is clear and it is time to return to the world.
Overall Analysis and Themes
Atlas Shrugged is a fictionalized depiction of the causes, results, and ultimate implications of man's slow descent into moral and philosophical self- destruction. It is set in the near future, but its many historical and contemporary references are meant to demonstrate that the dangers of intellectual stagnation are plausible and imminent. In the novel, men of the mind rebel against a society that preaches altruism, a society that teaches struggling victims that sacrifices for the sake of others is proper and moral, a society that indoctrinates its youth with a vicious, destructive skepticism. In this society, need is the most important claim to virtue, and so the most productive, capable men are forced into virtual enslavement by a vicious code of directives intended to eliminate all economic class distinctions.
The characters in the novel are for the most part stylized representations of the two primary forces at work in the world: rationality and irrationality. Those few who do not completely fit within one category or the other are specifically designed to demonstrate the conflict between the two forces within the framework of a single life. Rand's primary contention is that morality stems from the ability to accept and fulfill man's potential as a rational being. Her heroes live their lives completely. Because they are not afraid of reality, they possess a superior capacity for joy and passion.
John Galt , the principal hero and liberator in the novel, is the ultimate human being, a man completely immune to fear and suffering. He represents the ideal, the true and the right in human form. The battle he fights is the most difficult and profound in the history of the human race. His soldiers are the men of the industrial intelligentsia and their weapon is the only truly invincible weapon on earth: the power of reason. One of the primary literary devices employed in the novel is the rhetorical question, especially the famous "Who is John Galt?" This question represents at first a sense of futility and fear in the face of inexplicable decay, but eventually grows into its complete and final meaning: a sense of fear in the face of inevitable and just decay. Galt is a symbol of objective human justice.
Though Rand contends that men like John Galt and Hank Rearden do exist, in truth there is no cult of the rational like the one in this novel. Reason provides a pure methodology for discovery and existence, but its application varies from mind to mind. Rational philosophical premises are not innate principles; they must be discovered in the process of living.
Part I: Chapters 1-2
"Who is John Galt ?" The question emerges from the dark face of a homeless man. Eddie Willers , who had stopped to give the man a dime, is distressed by the words. Something about the question, about the waning light of dusk, the world huddling into itself for the night, is making Willers feel irrationally nervous. When he reaches Fifth Avenue, the sight of the shop windows--of objects made by and for men--reassures him. Eddie's father and grandfather before him had worked for the Taggarts, as Eddie does now. He remembers the days he spent at the Taggart estate, with his best friend. When asked what he wanted to do, Eddie had answered at once, "Whatever is right." For twenty-two years, he has stood by this statement.
Eddie enters the Taggart Building, home of Taggart Transcontinental. As always, he feels a sense of relief and security within its walls; it is a place of competence and power. He walks through its spotless marble halls and enters the office of James Taggart (Jim). Taggart is a balding, pale, petulant man, both stubborn and wasted. At thirty- nine years old, he is president of the nation's largest railroad. Eddie is the bearer of bad news. There has been another wreck on the Rio Norte track. The entire track is in ruins, and something has to be done. James evades the responsibility of making a decision. Every railroad in the country, he says, is having problems. He says it's a national and temporary condition. Eddie urges him to try to save the line, but James tells him that he cannot do anything until the new track arrives. Eddie has just spoken to Orren Boyle, head of Associated Steel, and he knows that they will not have a new track anytime soon. They have been waiting for Boyle to deliver the steel for over a year now. Eddie wants to go with Rearden Steel, but James reminds him that Orren is a good friend of his and deserves a break. Eddie counters that they cannot lose Colorado, because if they do they will lose every major shipper they have to Phoenix-Durango, a rapidly growing young railroad with a brilliant record. They have already lost Wyatt Oil and the support of Ellis Wyatt , a young, extraordinary entrepreneur who has found a way to revive exhausted oil wells. When Taggart Transcontinental could not keep up with his shipments, he had moved to the Phoenix-Durango. Jim tells him that nothing can be done, that Eddie should go talk to someone else. Eddie leaves the office.
Dagny Taggart is sitting aboard a speeding train, listening to the beautiful, exultant notes of a fantastic symphony. She thinks dimly that this is by far the greatest of Richard Halley's symphonies, the final manifestation of a genius only partially suggested in his previous work. Suddenly, she realizes that she has never heard this before--that to her knowledge Halley never composed this. She sits up and finds that the symphony is only a brakeman, a young boy, whistling. She has been dreaming. When she asks him what he is whistling, he tells her that it is Halley's Fifth Concerto. She carefully tells him that Halley only wrote four concertos, and the boy is immediately taken aback. He tells her that he has made a mistake,that it must have been written by someone else. He goes back to his work. Dagny falls asleep again.
Dagny awakes suddenly with an intense feeling that something is wrong. She realizes that her train--the Taggart Comet, the fastest train in the country--has stopped inexplicably. She bolts out of her seat and runs to the engine car. She finds the engineer and asks about the situation. He tells her that they have been sitting for an hour at a red light off the main line. He is pretty sure the light is broken and that the switch which sent them off the main line was malfunctioning as well. He does not think the signal is going to change. She asks what he plans to do, and he replies that he is going to wait for the signal to change. She reminds him that the Comet is the only train in the country that has never been late, but he does not want to take responsibility for issuing any orders. She orders him to proceed cautiously to the next signal and get back on the main track. When he asks her identity, she tells him that she is Dagny Taggart. When she returns to her seat, she thinks that the situation must be corrected. She knows that the superintendent of the Ohio Division is incompetent. He is a friend of her brother, James Taggart , but he must be replaced as soon as possible. She has to find Owen Kellogg, an exceptional young engineer for the New York Taggart Terminal. Though he is a bit too young for a superintendent's position, she has no choice. Men of talent are hard to find these days.
Dagny is sitting on the arm of a big chair facing James Taggart. Eddie Willers is sitting across the room, taking notes. Dagny informs Jim that the Rio Norte Line is nearly useless. She has ordered a new rail from Rearden Steel and it should arrive in two months. Jim complains that she did not consult him or the Board, but his comments are meaningless. He continues to complain. He believes they should give other steel companies--"the little guys"--a chance. Rearden Steel is so big. Such a large order of steel from Taggart would make it even bigger. Dagny informs him that the new rails will not be made of steel, but Rearden Metal. Taggart is shocked, speechless. Rearden Metal is a new alloy produced by Rearden Steel. It is stronger than steel and cheaper to manufacture, but no one wants to be the first to try it. Dagny does not care what the others are doing. She knows that Rearden Metal is the best substance on the market. Jim evades the issue, but finally agrees to put the order through. Dagny leaves his office. Eddie informs her that Owen Kellogg has requested an appointment with her. While she awaits Kellogg, she calls the Music Publishing Company to inquire about Halley's Fifth Concerto. They inform her that Halley has not published anything in eight years and that he has dropped out of public life. When Kellogg enters her office, she is glad to see that her vague memory of his face was accurate. He is, indeed, the perfect man for the superintendent's job. Before she can offer him the job, however, Kellogg informs her that he is quitting. She tries to discover his reason, but he seems to have none. She offers him anything he wants to stay, but he refuses. She realizes that the decision to leave was a difficult one for him. If he so loves his job, she asks, why leave it? He shrugs and smiles, and upon his face blooms a strange smile filled with amusement, heartache, and bitterness. He answers, "Who is John Galt?"
Hank Rearden watches as the first heat for the first order of Rearden Metal is poured. All around him, the mill is alive, aflame. He remembers the last ten years, the arduous process of experimentation and discovery. He remembers his first days in the industry, when iron mills were closing all over the country and he had purchased and revitalized this one. He reaches into his pocket and touches a bracelet, made from the first poured metal, for his wife. At the thought of his wife, he feels a sudden regret that he had the metal made, and then self-reproach for his regret. This is not the time for old doubts, he chides himself. Tonight, he feels he could forgive anything of anyone. He is profoundly happy. He turns away from the mills and starts walking home. As he approaches his house, something fades from his mood. His steps grow smaller and slower. In his living room, he finds his wife talking to his mother, his brother Phillip, and Paul Larkin, an old friend. He apologizes for being late, but finds that he cannot tell them about Rearden Metal. His wife, Lillian Rearden , is a beautiful woman whose only flaw is her eyes, which seem lifeless and empty. Rearden's family scolds him for working too much, for not caring about them at all. Rearden reminds himself that this is their method for expression their love for him, that he should have consideration for them. He pulls out the bracelet and gives it to Lillian, with the proud gesture of a returning crusader. His mother reprimands him for such a selfish present, for thinking that his steel should be like diamonds to his wife. Lillian tries to defend him, declaring that the present is "charming." Rearden feels only an incredible sense of exhaustion. He cannot begin to understand what his family wants from him. He supports them and tries to do everything he can for them, but they seem to want something more, as though they hold some claim over him. They profess love for him, but they despise all the qualities in him that he feels are worthy of love. He is sitting alone before the fireplace when his friend Paul Larkin sits next to him. Larkin, who has had an unlucky life, hangs onto Rearden like an anemic person trying to draw on another's great vitality. Larkin advises Rearden to ease up on his individualism. He reminds Rearden that he should pay attention to his man in Washington. Rearden knows that every day it becomes more important to have protection against the legislature, but he cannot bring himself to think about it with any conviction.
The most important fundamental truths in Atlas Shrugged are revealed and defined in conversation. In this section, primarily through the various interactions between characters, Rand clearly establishes the state of the nation. Decay is rampant, unavoidable. Everything is falling apart from within, like Eddie 's rotten oak tree. The people feel a helpless sense of doom, epitomized in the rhetorical "Who is John Galt?" The question is equivalent to a melancholy shrug, a declaration of defenselessness before a force too terrifying and massive to combat or even comprehend--a pervasive hopelessness and loss of spirit. It seems that men of talent are disappearing off the face of the earth. Those left behind are weak and frightened, unable to take meaningful action for fear of the consequences.
Even more frightening, however, are the weak, talentless people who seem to have an agenda. Lillian Rearden is clearly a more intelligent, and far more sinister, figure than the other members of Rearden 's family. Where the others completely lack the ability to understand him, she seems to have genuine insight into-and a genuine desire to undermine- his ideals and life's work.
But why is it that Rearden again and again justifies the actions of his wife and his family? His every instinct tells him that they abhor him and that there is nothing he can do to satisfy them. He suspects, though the prospect terrifies him, that his very presence is an offense to their existence. They are dependent upon him, but they are petulant, reproachful, as if were leeching from their diligent efforts. And yet, he continues to support them, continues to seek understanding. Why does he feel the need to torture himself like this? Rearden's greatest weakness is his belief that the tie of family implies obligation without limits. Rearden is utterly befuddled, because his familial and professional lives are mutually exclusive; the former is excruciating and the latter profoundly fulfilling with absolutely no cross-over. He believes that this incompatibility derives from a flaw within him. His innocent selfishness leads him to seek all answers within his own nature and to reject the possibility that any human being could be as completely worthless as his relatives seem to be. He seeks to understand his family through the lens of his own values, and this is logically impossible.
Part I: Chapters 3-4
Within the walls of a dank, cellar-like bar--the most expensive in the city--on the sixtieth floor of a skyscraper, four men, James Taggart among them, discuss the state of the nation. Orren Boyle, head of Associated Steel, argues that in a complex industrial society every businessman should share the problems of his peers. Taggart completely agrees. Boyle declares that Rearden Metal must be a swindle, because it is physically impossible for steel to be both stronger and lighter. He does not believe it is fair that Rearden happens to possess a bountiful iron mine that feeds his steel mill. Why should Boyle suffer because he cannot purchase his own iron mines? Why should he lose customers to Rearden simply because he cannot deliver steel on time? After all it is not his fault that he has no iron ore. Rearden should be made to share. One of the four sitting at the table is Paul Larkin. The others inquire into Larkin's convictions. They want to make sure he is willing to "sacrifice somebody" for the sake of fairness. Larkin is nervous, but reasons that he cannot be expected to fight against the entire world, that he would not be to blame for something that someone else would have done anyway. Their conversation shifts to Mexico. There are rumors that Mexico is going to nationalize the San Sebastian Line, Jim Taggart's most recent project. He built it because he felt it was his duty to try to help the underprivileged. Boyle angrily refutes the rumor as slander. He expresses surprise that when he rode on the Line, his train was pulled by a wood-burning locomotive straight out of a museum. Taggart is even more surprised, but pretends to know all about it and responds that the new locomotives should arrive soon. The fourth man at the table is Wesley Mouch , who happens to be Rearden 's "Washington man." The four shake hands amicably and depart.
Since early childhood, Dagny has always known that she would one day run the railroad. She began working for Taggart Transcontinental at the age of sixteen, as a night operator in a small station. James Taggart began in the Department of Public Relations. Over the next few years, Dagny quickly ascended through the organization, assuming positions of power because no one else seemed willing to take them. When her father died, the board elected Jim to be the next president. Dagny did not care. Her only concern was with the Operating Department. Jim's first policy as head of the railroad was the San Sebastian Line in Mexico. Many men were responsible, but the most important among them was Francisco d'Anconia . At twenty-three he had inherited his father's fortune and become the copper king of the world. Now, at thirty-six, he is the richest and "most spectacularly worthless playboy" on earth. When he bought miles of mountains in Mexico, news spread that he had had found copper. He did nothing to sell the stock; the stock sold itself. Many came to him, begging for a part of the venture. He chose certain people among the applicants and allowed them to purchase. D'Anconia's financial talent is generally considered extraordinary, and many of his worst critics are the first to follow him in his ventures. James Taggart, Orren Boyle, and their friends were among the largest stockholders of the San Sebastian Mines project. The People's State of Mexico signed a contract with Taggart, guaranteeing the company's property right for two hundred years. Dagny fought against its construction. The resources were needed to rebuild the Taggart owned Rio Norte Line, where a new industrialist named Ellis Wyatt was preparing to venture into oil. Now, years later, Wyatt conducts his business primarily with another company and the Rio Norte Line is in ruins. Dagny comforts herself with the thought that soon she will rebuild the line, with Rearden Metal.
Jim Taggart enters Dagny's office and confronts her about the San Sebastian's wood-burning locomotives. She informs him simply that the locomotives are needed elsewhere. If he wants to place new locomotives in Mexico, he needs to tell her what route to cut, what train to dismantle, because nothing else is available. He does not want to take responsibility for such an action, but tells her that she is going to have to answer to the Board for this trespass of her powers. After he leaves, Dagny takes the elevator down to the concourse of the Taggart Terminal. She sees the statue of Nathaniel Taggart, founder of the railroad. He had been an adventuresome man, resented by many. He was notorious for his passion and his temper. With little money and even less support, he had built the nation's greatest railroad. On her way out of the concourse, Dagny stops at a newsstand and talks to its owner, whom she has known for years. He tells her that nothing new is being made, and she responds that the situation is only temporary. He shrugs at the state of the world. "Who is John Galt?" he asks. She asks about the origin of the expression, but he has no answers to give her. She tells him that she does not like what people mean when they use it. He agrees.
Eddie Willers enters the cafeteria of the Taggart Terminal. He sits with a grease-stained worker. Eddie has always liked this worker, though he does not know his name. He tries to eat with him whenever possible. He feels comfortable with the worker. While eating, he complains about the decay slowly eating the world and the railroad. They need new locomotives, but they have been waiting for two years for United Locomotive Works to deliver their order. He has hope, however, because Dagny is going to fix the Rio Norte line. The worker inquires about Dagny, about her personal life, and Eddie tells him what he knows. He is surprised by the worker's interest.
Dagny has just returned from New Jersey, where she went to meet with the president of United Locomotive Works. The president had granted her the meeting, but evaded most of her questions. When she enters her office, Eddie is waiting for her. He informs her that McNamara, their best contractor, has just quit. He gave no reasons, only left. No one knows where he has gone. Dagny feels an incredible fatigue and frustration. She leaves the office and takes a walk along the margin of the city. She thinks about Richard Halley. Halley spent his life living in squalor, producing violently colorful music. His work was rejected for its sense of ecstasy and heroism, a sentiment "out of key" with the times. At twenty-four, he composed an opera titled Phaeton, based on the Greek myth of Helios and Phaeton. He changed the myth, however, so that Phaeton did not perish for his audacity and courage. Instead, Halley's Phaeton returned safely home a hero. The opera closed after only one performance, to jeers and booing. Nineteen years later, the opera was performed again, but this time it received the greatest ovation the opera house had ever seen. Dagny Taggart was in the audience. The next day, many critics lauded his courage, declaring that it is right that he should have endured such suffering and injustice in order to enrich the lives of his fellow human beings with the beauty of music. The day after the opening, Richard Halley announced his retirement and disappeared. Back in her apartment, Dagny now listens to his Fourth Concerto. She notices the face of Francisco d'Anconia on the front of a newspaper. She tries to prevent herself from reading it, but reaches forward anyway and opens the paper. The cover story is about the latest scandal surrounding d'Anconia. A socialite declared a few months ago that she would divorce her husband for the sake of her lover, Francisco d'Anconia. D'Anconia has neither denied nor confirmed the story.
James Taggart is speaking before the Board of Directors. He informs them that the unfortunate events of that morning could not be prevented. Mexico has just nationalized that San Sebastian Line. He is happy to report, however, that he had the foresight to remove most of their best locomotives and rolling stock from the line shortly before the announcement. He declares that he has saved the company millions of dollars, but he suggests they demand the resignation of their economic consultant and of their representative in Mexico City. When he returns to his office, Orren Boyle is waiting for him. They discuss Francisco d'Anconia. They're wondering if he is willing to let himself be robbed. Taggart asks his secretary about the appointment he requested with d'Anconia. His secretary informs him that d'Anconia has refused the request. Taggart is furious.
The members of the National Alliance of Railroads approve a proposal known as the "Anti-dog-eat-dog Rule," designed to reduce competition among railroads. According to the proposal, the interests of the whole industry are to be determined by majority vote. Each company must subordinate itself to the majority's decision. Only five members vote against it, but when the decision is announced there is no cheering or apparent satisfaction, as if people had hoped that somehow, something would prevent it. Jim Taggart goes to see Dagny. In a few months, he tells her, the Phoenix-Durango Railroad will cease to exist. She is furious, but Jim only smiles. She feels that his smile is the key to some crucial secret that she must try to decipher. She rushes out of the office.
Dagny goes to see Dan Conway, president of the Phoenix-Durango railroad. He has the stubborn, tough face of a boxer. She tells him that he has to fight, but he seems very tired. He thinks it would be no use to fight. He knows that the world is in a terrible state, and that men have to come together to find a way out. If anyone was going to make such decisions, it should be the majority. Dagny is angry. She did not expect to hear these words from an otherwise committed and persistent a man. She tells him that nothing can justify the immolation of good men simply because they are good. He is helpless before her words. He asks how they can live in such a world. She has no answer to give him. She has felt the same question and the same fear. He tells her that he has been thinking about the effort he poured into his company, the terrible labor of building something from absolutely nothing. He thinks the Alliance is unjust, but perhaps the problem is within him. Hee tells Dagny that perhaps heis just selfish. She tells him to forget those rotten ideas; he should know better. But he is just too tired. He no longer knows what is right. He thinks that perhaps it is time to retire, to return to fishing. She wants him to fight because she does not want to see him lose like this. She had fully intended to compete fiercely with him in Colorado, to try to run him out of business if necessary, but she cannot stand to defeat him in this fashion. She feels like a looter. He tells her to get her Rio Norte Line up and running quickly, because the fate of Ellis Wyatt and his men depends on it, and they are some of the best men left in the country.
Dagny telephones Hank Rearden 's steel mill and makes an appointment to see him. Immediately after she hangs up the phone, a stranger enters her office. He is young and tall, with a quality of absolute self-control, though something about him suggests violence. He has dark, intelligent eyes and wears his expensive clothes carelessly. He introduces himself as Ellis Wyatt. He has come to her because he has heard that she is the only one in Taggart Transcontinental with any brains. He needs the Rio Norte Line to be running at full capacity in nine months. His voice is sharp and angry. If Taggart runs its trains the way it did five years ago, he tells her, he will be destroyed. He issues her an ultimatum. If she does not give him the transportation he needs, he will take her company down with him. She feels a soft pain within her. She wants to tell him that his enemies are her enemies, that she is fighting the same incompetence and senseless corruption that he is fighting, but tells him simply, without excuses, that he will have the transportation he needs in time. He is surprised; he had expected mealy-mouthed excuses and evasion. His voice loses some of its sharpness as he thanks her and leaves.
Dagny goes to see Hank Rearden. She tells him about the Wyatt meeting. She had worked out a demanding schedule to rebuild the Rio Norte Line in twelve months, and now she has to do it in nine. He assures her that he will be able to provide what she needs. They discuss the future of their respective industries. Rearden is surprised and delighted that she deals with him on his own level. This is a woman he can understand. He points out a crane in the distance pouring Rearden Metal. There are so many possibilities for his metal, so many incredible applications, that he will not have enough time in his lifetime to find them all. He tells her that it is they (people like him and Dagny) who move the world, and who will ultimately pull it through.
In a movie, the music and setting serve to clarify and emphasize the significance of that situation. Ayn Rand was an avid film enthusiast, and that influence is clear in this novel. Notice that the setting for the villains is a dark crypt of a bar, and that the villains share a common set of physical and intellectual features. These features are, of course, reflections of the force within them that makes them villains, but they also serve to identify and illuminate that force. In Atlas Shrugged, there are few gray areas. Nearly every character falls completely into one of two categories: the strong, noble, and able versus the weak, immoral, and evasive. Just as a villain is clearly identified in a movie simply by the music he evokes, the relative worth of any character in this novel can be ascertained simply by Rand's descriptions of the clothes he or she wears, the quality of his or her face, or even the restaurant the character chooses to attend.
Dan Conway's decision to accept the Alliance's proposal and Dagny 's decision to continue fighting for her railroad are, ironically, two symptoms of the same inclination. Both characters suffer from an over-estimation of their fellow men, and a fear of being proven wrong. Though they can clearly see that Taggart and his allies are feeding off the talent and energy of better men, neither wants to admit the full extent of the evil being committed. The primary reason for Conway's retirement is not the fear of fighting forces beyond his understanding, but of fighting long enough to learn the truth behind them. Rather than risk a vision of humanity at its absolute worst, Conway is going to leave the world behind. By not thinking too much about the nature of her brother's actions, Dagny has for years avoided having to pronounce judgment upon him and the entire human race. Rather than face the fundamental evil residing in her brother's smile, Dagny is going to fight heedlessly and thoughtlessly to save her railroad.
Part I: Chapters 5-6
When Dagny returns to her office, the first thing she notices is a newspaper clutched in Eddie 's hand. He seems upset. On the front page is an article about Francisco d'Anconia 's copper mines. The Mexican government has discovered, upon nationalizing the mines, that they are completely worthless: D'Anconia purposely acquired and advertised worthless property. Dagny is furious. Eddie reminds her, somewhat sadly, that this is "Frisco d'Anconia" they are talking about. It was Frisco d'Anconia, she answers.
During Dagny's childhood, the most significant event each year was the arrival of Francisco d'Anconia at the beginning of the summer. He always brought with him a sense of excitement and significance. "Hi, Slug!" he would shout upon seeing her. "Hi, Frisco!" she would always respond. Francisco, Dagny, and Eddie wandered all over the surrounding countryside. He taught them to hitch a ride on a Taggart train and visit nearby cities. His ingenuity and capacity for adventure were unparalleled. He was the descendant of a long line of great men, the d'Anconia copper barons. The first of them, Sebastian d'Anconia, was forced to leave Spain and move to America, to leave his fortune and his love behind, when he insulted the lord of the Inquisition. In the mountains of Argentina, he built the first copper mines of the New World. Fifteen years after he left Spain, he sent for his wife. When she arrived in South America, she found a marble palace with the silver d'Anconia coat of arms over the door. For each successor to Sebastian, the most shameful disgrace was to leave the d'Anconia fortune no greater than he had received it. They were great men of unusual skill and nobility, and Francisco was by far the greatest, the most rarefied of them. Francisco could do anything he wished to do, and superlatively. When he turned sixteen, his father sent him to the Patrick Henry University in Cleveland, the only decent school left in the country. Francisco visited Dagny every summer, as always. One day, while playing tennis with him, Dagny decided that she had to win. She fought brutally, ignoring the agony in her muscles and joints. Francisco responded by making her work harder, by sending the ball just out of her reach, sending his shots all over the court, and forcing her to run back and forth. Finally, she won. He walked up to her and threw his racket at her feet, knowing that this was precisely what she wanted him to do. Then he walked off the court and collapsed on the grass. That night, he visited her at Rocksdale. She had been working as night operator there for a few months. They walked home together through the woods. Beside a stream, they made love. It was an act of violence and ownership, nearly unbearable because they had both desired it for so long. For the rest of the summer, they explored their sensuality innocently, joyously, and secretly. They told no one, not because they were ashamed, but because their love was something immaculate and intimate.
While at college, Francisco followed two courses of education, one at the university and the other at a nearby copper foundry. At sixteen, he had entered the foundry as a furnace boy. By the time he was twenty, he owned it. The day he graduated, he sent his father two things, his university diploma and his first title of property. When he returned to his father's office in Buenos Aires, he discovered a photograph of his foundry hanging in a place of honor, facing his father's desk. Francisco had raised the money to purchase it by playing the New York Stock Market. His father was fiercely proud, though he tried not to show it.
Francisco was twenty-three when his father died and he went to Buenos Aires to take control of the d'Anconia estate. He wrote to Dagny often. She was not unhappy in his absence. She was busy carving her own place in the Taggart kingdom. She missed him, but knew that they were building toward a future when they would have everything they wanted, including each other. When Dagny was twenty-four, she received a call from Francisco. He asked her to meet him at his hotel for dinner that night. When she entered his hotel room that evening, she was surprised by the change that had come over him. He had the look of a man standing upright under a massive burden. His face had unmistakable lines of bitterness and pain. Over dinner, he asked her to leave Taggart Continental and let it go to ruins, because that is exactly what would happen when her brother took over. She was angry at the suggestion. It was past midnight when she awakened at his side. He was standing near the window, his face a mask of pain. She was terrified. He noticed her glance and returned to the bed. He buried his face in her chest and held her convulsively. "I can't give it up!" he said, "I can't!" She asked, frightened, what it was he could not give up, but he could not tell her. He asked her not to ask any more questions, because this was the only way she could help him. In the morning, he warned her that he was going to do things that would hurt her--that she would denounce him before long.
Over the next few years, Francisco became the most notorious playboy in the world. He occasionally undertook spectacularly successful business ventures, but only at intervals. For the most part, his employees ran his company. Now years, later, Dagny is walking to his hotel, fully conscious of the pain he has caused her, to confront him. When she enters his room, he smiles at her with the same brilliant smile of his youth. "Hi, Slug!" he calls out. She finds herself answering, "irresistibly, helplessly, happily": "Hi, Frisco!" The lines of bitterness and pain are gone from his face. She remembers the purpose of her visit. She asks him why he deliberately invested in worthless mines. She knows that he had no intention of helping the Mexican government; he was after his stockholders. The only reason he can give her is that it was amusing to him. She asks him if he has heard anything about Halley's Fifth Concerto. He looks shocked and answers that Halley has not written anything since the Fourth. He seems relieved when she tells him that she only asked because she cannot associate their love for Halley's music with Francisco's latest scandalous love affair. Francisco points out that the latest woman to claim she was dating him declared that she had spent New Year's Eve with him in the Andes. In fact, he had been in Texas on New Year's Eve, presiding at the opening of the San Sebastian Line. Dagny is shocked by this revelation. Most of the playboy fame, it seems, is unwarranted. She tells him that of all people, he should be fighting the hardest against the looters of the world. To waste his talent on things like this is irresponsible. He responds that it is against her that he must fight. He intends to funnel a great deal of money to corrupt men, to the most undeserving. He will continue to fight her and her railroad. He does not think Taggart Transcontinental can survive the blow he has dealt it. She is horrified. He tells her that he named the mines after this ancestor because it was the kind of tribute he would have liked. She feels that he has committed blasphemy. She again asks him what he is trying to do, but he tells her that she is not ready to hear it. She has a great deal of courage, but not enough--not yet.
Hank Rearden is preparing himself for hours of torture. It is his wedding anniversary, and his wife is throwing a party in celebration. He dresses methodically, as a man approaching death. At the party, he finds Lillian , who usually wears little jewelry, wearing a diamond necklace, earrings, rings, and brooches. On her wrist is the bracelet of Rearden Metal he gave her. The glittering gems make it look ugly and cheap. She glances at him with a look that seems both secretive and purposeful. He feels the desire to tear the bracelet off her arm, but instead moves quietly to her side. Over the next few hours, several guests distinguish themselves. Dr. Pritchett argues that man is nothing but a collection of chemicals, that he is truly worthless. The universe, he declares is nothing but a contradiction. One must not make the mistake of attempting to understand it. The only valid guide for human action is instinct. Ralph Eubank contends that the literature of the past is ridiculous, with its notions of free will and heroism. True literature, he argues, is about suffering and defeat, because it is impossible to be happy. The only thing one can live for is "brother-love." Bertram Scudder, who has just written an article about Hank Rearden entitled "The Octopus," tells Phillip Rearden that the recently passed Equalization of Opportunity Bill represents a great step forward. Phillip fully approves of the bill, though it will apparently harm his brother. Claude Slagenhop, president of Friends for Global Progress, argues that need is the only consideration, that whatever is good for society is right.
Rearden is standing at a window, looking at his mills in the distance. He turns around and sees Dagny Taggart enter. She walks toward him. She tells him that she is here in honor and celebration of the first sixty miles of Taggart rail in Colorado. He returns to the party, walking amidst his guests. Suddenly, he realizes that Bertram Scudder is among the invited. He confronts Lillian, wondering why she would invite someone who had so viciously criticized him. "The Octopus" did not contain a single fact, only a barrage of unsupported and malicious claims. He is furious, and tells his wife that she will never again invite that man to their home. She does not argue, but after she walks away Rearden again wishes he could understand the purpose behind his wife's actions. Francisco d'Anconia enters the party. Rearden asks Lillian to keep Francisco away from him. Jim Taggart pulls d'Anconia aside to confront him about the San Sebastian Mines. Francisco responds that he only did what the entire world is now preaching. He hired men not because they were competent, but because they needed the work. He did not work for profit, but took a loss. Everyone criticizes industrialists for their domineering nature, so he simply let his underlings control the venture. Jim is helpless and furious. After some time, Francisco approaches Hank Rearden. He has observed that Lillian is doing her best to keep him away from Rearden, and he guesses the reason. Rearden is surprised by the grim honesty of the statement. Francisco tells him that he came to the party simply because he wanted to meet Rearden. Rearden skeptically asks if he came in order to gain his confidence, but Francisco answers that if he acts in honesty, anyone with a rational perspective should be able to see it. Rearden is startled, and his face betrays how much he wants Francisco to be the kind of man he appears to be. Francisco asks why Rearden is willing to carry all these depraved men in his drawing room, why he is willing to work and let them feed off his energy. Rearden responds that it is because they are weak, and he does not notice the burden. Francisco corrects him. They are not helpless; they have a weapon against him, and Rearden must learn what it is.
A woman at the party professes to know the identity of John Galt. According to her, Galt was a millionaire of incredible wealth. He was sailing his yacht in the Atlantic, in the worst of storms when he found the Isle of the Blessed, Atlantis, a glorious place where hero-spirits dwell, a place where only the spirits of heroes can enter. Galt sank his ship, along with his entire crew, because Atlantis was a sight so great that once one had seen it, one could not bear to look at the rest of the world again. Dagny does not believe the story, but Francisco steps in and announces that he does. He finds the woman's story humorous, because she does not know that she is telling the truth.
Dagny notices Lillian 's bracelet and asks her about it. Lillian informs her that it was a very special gift from her husband. It is hideous, she says, but it is supposed to be priceless. She would exchange it for a common diamond bracelet any time, but somehow nobody will offer her one for it, she says with a trace of mockery. It is the first thing ever made of Rearden Metal. Dagny takes her own diamond bracelet and extends it toward Lillian. If Lillian is not the coward Dagny thinks she is, Dagny says, she will exchange the bracelet. Rearden is watching, his face looking tortured. Lillian thanks Dagny and takes the bracelet. Rearden approaches his wife, clasps the diamond bracelet on her wrist, and kisses her hand. Later, he approaches Dagny. He wants to slap her face. He tells her coldly that her action was not necessary.
After the party, Rearden finds himself wondering why he married Lillian. He remembers that it was her austerity that had first attracted him. She carried herself like someone who thought they should be placed on a pedestal. This made him desire her fiercely, made him want to drag her down into his bed. Now, he does not understand her. For the next party, he informs her, she should not invite people whom she thinks he would like. He does not care to meet them in social situations.
Francisco d'Anconia 's renunciation of his incredible promise is one of the first indications of the force behind many of the novel's incomprehensible events. Halley's phantom concerto, the resignation of nearly every talented man in Taggart Transcontinental, the disappearance of most of the great industrialists: these are completely inexplicable occurrences, and they are tied together somehow. Strangely, the answer seems to lie in a question: Who is John Galt? Rand embodies the mystery of these events is in his person--and his purpose.
In this section we find a partial—and, according to Francisco, truthful--answer to the question. The fantastic nature of the answer indicates that its truth is symbolic, not literal. Galt discovered (or perhaps created) a world of heroes, of men who carry the essence of life within them. He has left the real world behind because he has seen a far greater place. Atlantis is the depiction of a potential world, of an ideal enshrined. Notice that in this novel, the only proper place for heroism is fantasy. Nearly every guest at the party speaks the same hateful anti-human words. The common belief is that there is no room for greatness in the modern world. Galt's paradise cannot possibly exist among such men.
When Dagny exchanges bracelets with Lillian , she clearly demonstrates that she--not Lillian--is capable of responding to the most important facet of Hank Rearden . Rearden's response is somehow predictable. Though Lillian belittles his gift to her and seems to despise the part of him that brings him the most profound sense of joy, Rearden stands by his wife. As previously mentioned, it is in his nature to seek all answers within himself. He fervently wishes to understand her, and believes that his inability to do so is a symptom of some flaw within him. In truth, Rearden is in desperate need of being understood. He glimpses this during his conversation with Francisco at the party, when Francisco offers him "gratitude." It is not gratitude, he realizes, but something like it, that he seeks and cannot find. Though he does not know it, he seeks the kind of recognition that can only be granted by an equal, the acknowledgment clear of guilt and fear of the force within him that allows him to create.
Part I: Chapters 7-8
The reconstruction of the Rio Norte Line is plagued with problems, but Dagny and Rearden manage to keep the project on schedule. When the Amalgamated Switch and Signal Company telephones Dagny and tells her that he cannot make the switches out of Rearden Metal because it would cost too much to increase the capacity of his furnaces and because his men are not properly trained, Dagny doubles the price of her order. Rearden sends two metallurgists to Amalgamated and pays the salaries of their technicians while his men train them. When the only company in the country willing to make spikes out of Rearden Metal goes bankrupt, Dagny flies to Chicago that night. She gets three lawyers, a judge, and a state legislator out of bed, bribes two of them and threatens the others, and obtains an emergency permit to reopen the plant under her supervision.
The only flaw in the entire new line is an old, decayed bridge in Colorado. Dagny wants to build a new one of Rearden Metal and asks her engineer to design one. His design would cost an exorbitant amount of money, so she instead asks him to figure out a way to keep the bridge steady for another five years. He seems relieved. One day, Ellis Wyatt approaches her on the track. Though she has not seen him before, he has visited the site often, taking control of small operations when her own men seemed incapable. He thanks her for the work she is doing on the line. His words are like a salute, an acknowledgment. He now knows what kind of woman she is. That afternoon, she sees Hank Rearden at the construction site. She feels an immense relief in his presence. He has been watching the progress of the line and thinks her plan to repair the bridge is inappropriate. To build an entirely new bridge out of Rearden Metal would only cost slightly more, and it would last for centuries. She tells him that her engineer predicted two million dollars--the figure shocks him. He says he can do it for eight hundred thousand. They discuss his design, and after some time the two return to his car. It is a beautiful car, built by Hammond of Colorado. Everything truly great is being done in Colorado these days. Rearden is visiting the state because he is thinking about purchasing a copper mine. Rearden Metal requires a great deal of copper, and there do not seem to be any decent copper companies left. She asks if she can fly back to New York with him, since she has to be there that night, but he hesitates and informs her that he has to go to Minnesota. That evening, she goes to the nearest airfield. The attendant informs her that there will be no planes to New York for two days. If she had gotten there sooner, he tells her, she might have flown back with Mr. Rearden, who has just taken off for New York. The information surprises her. She does not know where to begin trying to understand his reasons for lying to her.
Back in New York, Dagny enters a small diner and orders a cup of coffee. The man sitting next to her, who looks like he was once an evangelist or a professor of art, complains that there is no human spirit, that men are only concerned with satisfying their bodies' needs. A young, bitter man nearby agrees and shrugs off the importance of morality. "Who is John Galt?" he says with a sneer. At this, a small, shriveled tramp declares that he knows. John Galt was a great explorer who sought the fountain of youth. He crossed oceans and deserts, and went deep down into the earth. He finally found it at the top of an immense mountain. It took him ten years to climb the mountain. It broke his body and he lost everything, but he found it. He found the fountain of youth, which he wanted to bring down to men, but he never came back. Dagny asks why not. Because he found that it could not be brought down, the tramp answers.
Dr. Potter, who holds some vague position with the State Science Institute, comes to see Rearden. Dr. Potter tells Rearden that society is simply not ready for Rearden's metal. In addition, in a struggling economy, a company such as Rearden's might endanger the health of his competitors by producing too much. He wants Rearden to wait a few years for full-scale production of his metal. When Rearden refuses, Potter offers to buy all rights to his metal. He is in a position to spend large sums of money. Rearden, of course, refuses. Potter tells him that there are certain bills pending in the legislature that make businessmen particularly vulnerable. The threat is clear.
When Dagny returns to her office in New York, Eddie Willers is waiting for her. The fear in his eyes tells her that once again something terrible has happened. The State Science Institute has issued a formal statement about Rearden Metal. The wording of the statement is vague butmalicious. Taggart stock has crashed; Ben Nealy, the Taggart contractor, has quit; the Brotherhood of Road and Track Workers has forbidden its members to work with the metal; and Jim has left town. Eddie is shocked by the statement because the head of the State Science Institute is Robert Stadler , one of the men he and Dagny once worshipped. He wants to know what it is in people that allows them to do things like this. Dagny can only tell him to not be afraid.
At the State Science Institute in New Hampshire, Dagny finds that Stadler is completely disillusioned. He agrees that the metal is a great discovery, but the Institute cannot support it. Their own metallurgical department has been working for years, has spent over twenty million dollars, and managed to discover nothing at all of use. What would the public say if they found that someone completely independent of the Institute had discovered such a thing as Rearden Metal? Dr. Stadler was a brilliant astrophysicist whose discoveries had revolutionized the nature of his field. At thirty-two, he became head of the Department of Physics of the Patrick Henry University. Years later, it was Dr. Stadler who suggested the creation of the Institute, to free science from the "dollar-chasers." He tells Dagny that he, too, once believed in the supremacy of reason, in the power of a rational man, but he has seen too much. He has been disappointed too many times. He tells her that his greatest disappointment came when he still taught at the institute. There were three brilliant pupils, students like none he had ever encountered. Stadler had fought over them with Dr. Hugh Akston , head of the Department of Philosophy. Their contest was a friendly one, because both men understood each other. Of the three, one is Francisco d'Anconia , a playboy. Another is Ragnar Danneskjold , notorious pirate. The third disappeared altogether after condemning Stadler for the Institute.
Jim Taggart is desperate. He wants to save the railroad, but he has no idea what to do. Dagny tells him that she will finish the line on her own. She will resign from Taggart and begin her own company. She will get her own financing. In a year, when it becomes clear that the rails can easily withstand the traffic, she will return to Taggart and bring her line with her. She will name her company the John Galt Line.
Dagny goes to Francisco d'Anconia for help. She has raised seven million dollars and needs eight more. She begs him openly, offering nothing for the money he could give her. He tells her that he cannot help her. She tells him that it does not matter. She will build the line, and it will be called the John Galt Line. He is shocked at this.
Dagny finds the investors she needs in Colorado, among Wyatt 's friends: Hammond, of Hammond cars, Kenneth Dannager of Dannager Coal, Wyatt himself, and many others. Rearden adds himself to the list for one million dollars. He is willing to risk at least as much as anyone else on this venture. After the announcement by the State Science Institute, the Colorado men are going ahead with huge purchases of Rearden Metal. Rearden's mother comes to his mill to talk to him. She wants him to give his brother Phillip a job, because to have one would surely boost Phillip's self-esteem. When he refuses, she tells him that there is no virtue in giving a job to someone who deserves it. True virtue, she argues, is the giving of the undeserved. He tells her that she does not know what she is saying--that he does not despise her enough to believe that she means it. She is astonished by this response, but there is something below her astonishment, a strange cunning that seems to mock his innocence.
One day, while Rearden is meeting with a desperate customer, his secretary bursts into his office. She is young, incredibly efficient, and has never before allowed anything to affect the professional atmosphere of the office, but she seems dazed now. The Legislature has just passed the Equalization of Opportunity Bill. Late that night, he finds her sitting at her desk, crying silently. He tells her to not worry, because he will survive. She is crying for the fate that awaits him, but she draws comfort from his strength. After she leaves, he is overcome with emotion. He finds his courage weakening. Suddenly, he realizes that there is a better way to build Dagny's bridge. He sets to work on the design. An hour later, he calls her to describe his plan. His strength comforts Dagny as well.
Over lunch, Eddie tells his worker friend about the new John Galt Line. The worker is amused by Dagny's choice of name. Sitting alone in her office, Dagny remembers telling Eddie years ago that she always imagined meeting a certain man, the man behind her railroad. It was not her father, but someone whose very existence was the meaning of her world, and she would be the meaning of his. She feels that this man in her capacity for an emotion she has never experienced but could give her life to find. Suddenly, she sees the outline of a man standing at her door. He turns abruptly and leaves.
Rearden has been forced to sell part of his company to Paul Larkin. The Equalization of Opportunity Act essentially says that no one may own more than a single company. Rearden, who has slowly purchased most of the steps in his production process, now finds that he has to sell his ore mines to someone who does not deserve them. He sells his coal mines to Ken Dannager, but that sale is much less painful. With the money from these sales, Rearden offers Taggart a moratorium on their debt to Rearden Steel. He informs Eddie that he does not need payment until six months after the John Galt Line becomes active. He knows that Taggart is having financial problems, and he wants them to survive long enough to be his long-term customers. His motives are purely rational self- interest.
As the date of the Line's opening approaches, public criticism grows steadily louder. The governing board of the Union of Locomotive Engineers warns Dagny that they will go on strike if she forces anyone to run the first train. She tells them that she has no intention of forcing anyone. She will ask for volunteers, through Eddie. The next day, Eddie calls her up to his office, a strange note in his voice. When she gets there, she finds the room packed. Every engineer in the Taggart System has volunteered. They draw lots, and Pat Logan is chosen to drive the first train.
A week before the first run, Dagny holds a press conference in her office. She speaks only facts, giving the reporter the most significant technical details about the track and going on to say that she expects to make a huge profit. One reporter, who is particularly honest, asks her to clarify, because her words will surely be strongly criticized. Dagny responds by saying that she expects to make a "pile of money" with the John Galt Line and further, that she will have earned it. Hank Rearden, who is standing beside her, tells them that he, too, expects to "skin the public" to the tune of a huge profit. The honest reporter asks about the benefits of Rearden Mal. Considering the many advantages, the public will actually be getting something great, will it not? Rearden agrees somewhat sarcastically. It seems ridiculous to him that this should be considered only as a justification for the profit. The reporters are surprised. They had expected to have to twist words to get this kind of incriminating effect.
On July 22, Dagny and Rearden ride together in the engine of the first locomotive to ride the John Galt Line. Dagny feels her hatred for the world melt away in complete happiness. The reporters, at first cynical and unhappy, gradually catch the mood of the moment. Men who despised their jobs suddenly find that they are enjoying themselves. At four o'clock exactly the train departs the Cheyenne, Wyoming station. All along the way, they are greeted by crowds of onlookers. At every milepost stands a solitary figure, armed and ready to protect the train. Dagny does not understand at first, but suddenly she realizes that they are the families of Taggart employees, volunteering to defend the train with their lives. At every station it passes, the train is showered with flowers and shouts of encouragement. Suddenly, people have something to celebrate. The train crosses over the Rearden Metal bridge and enters Wyatt Junction. Ellis Wyatt and his men are waiting. His face has an expression of the purity, joy, and benevolence of a child. That night, in Ellis Wyatt's home, Hank Rearden enters Dagny's room. They make love violently and passionately, a final statement of mutual triumph.
In this section we find the second description of John Galt, and by its context we can guess that it, too, is symbolically truthful. The significance is clear in the imagery: a fountain of youth, atop a glorious pinnacle, so that one must struggle fiercely to reach it. Notice that all of the heroic characters-- Dagny , Rearden , Francisco -- are remarkable for their youthful appearance and vitality. The fountain of youth is their integrity, their refusal to accept anything but the pure and the absolute. Of course, such a pinnacle cannot be brought down for the common good. If it were made easier to attain, the fountain would lose its potency. The secret behind its powers is precisely in the demanding nature of its location.
In his conversation with his mother, Hank Rearden names the "weapon" Francisco described in the last section. His family can hold him to them because he does not condemn them. He knows that their views disagree with his; that they are feeding off of his immense vitality without giving him anything in return; that they resent and even despise him. And yet, he is incapable of forgetting them or admitting that they are despicable people. Because he worships the potential within each man, Rearden is reluctant to pass judgment on mankind in general.
The first run on the John Galt Line is a fantastic validation of Dagny's principles. The joy she finds on entering Wyatt Junction is so Profound and intoxicatingly complete that it could only have arisen from an intense need. Dagny had nearly forgotten that such moments were possible. For now, her efforts are justified. Ultimately, however, she will have to return to a world of looters and criminals. How long will she be able to maintain the John Galt Line, a profound symbol of independent triumph, against a nation bent on exploiting and plundering its greatestindividuals?
Part I: Chapters 9-10
In the morning, Dagny wakes to find Rearden beside her. He seems young and at peace. He steps out of bed and gets dressed. Standing over her, he tells her that he needs her as he has never needed anyone and that his need is base and overpowering. He wants no pretense of love or loyalty or respect-- nothing to hide behind. His corrupt desire has led him to break his oath of marriage, and now he has no decency left. He wants only her body, in the most shameful way he can imagine. When he is finished, Dagny laughs. She tells him that she is much more an animal than he is. She, too, has only desire, but she accepts it and rejoices in it. She does not want his mind, his will, or his soul, as long as he comes to her for the lowest of his needs. He thinks their act was shameful; she feels only pride. When she finishes, Rearden breaks down with a moan and falls into her arms.
James Taggart is walking through the streets. That night, he had attended a meeting of the Board of Directors. They needed to make sure the agreement with Dagny was foolproof, that she had to hand the new line back to them as soon as possible. Now, Jim does not want to face her. He enters a dime store to purchase paper tissues. The salesgirl recognizes him as the great Jim Taggart. She has recently read an article about him. According to the article, he had been the guiding spirit behind the John Galt Line. When everyone else had tried to stop him, Jim had merely forged ahead, because he knew that the bridge and line would hold. He lies that it is indeed true. She tells him he's had a touch time; he should enjoy himself now. When a screeching bell announces closing time, he asks her to walk with him. Her name is Cherryl Brooks. She left her family in Buffalo a few months ago because they were "stinking poor" and not doing anything about. She knew that if she stayed there much longer she would never be able to leave. She came to New York because the men who built this city did not whine or complain; they only acted and created. She is a hero-worshipper. Jim invites her to his apartment to have a drink. He talks about the industry, about how it was irresponsible to build the Line. Cherryl is a bit surprised because he was supposedly the one who fought to build it, but she will accept anything from him. Jim believes that Rearden is selfish, after profit only. Cherryl asks why that should be a flaw. She believes Jim is only being modest, since everyone knows he did a great job on the Line. Jim continues to destroy her conception of heroism. He tells her that nearly everyone now agrees that happiness is impossible, that talent is not a gift but a character flaw. She grows frightened. He tells her that the Rearden Metal bridge is nothing compared to the size of the earth. At this she seems relieved. She believes he is saying that no achievement is enough for him, that he must always keep building and working. After he takes her home, he feels that he has taken his revenge on everyone in the world for the John Galt Line.
The Equalization of Opportunity Bill has led most of America's industrialists to move to Colorado. Many planned to build a branch in Colorado, to profit from the incredible industrial boom sweeping over the state, but the Bill made this impossible. Instead, men all over the country are packing up their factories and moving to Colorado. Mr. Mowen, president of Amalgamated Switch and Signal, is indignant. The Quinn Ball Bearing plant across the street from his own factory is moving away. He talks to one of the workers unloading the factory and complains about the "slap-happy" manner in which everyone is moving to Colorado. He has several friends who went out of business because they could not compete with Wyatt Oil and Rearden Steel. He thinks something should be done to allow competition. The worker simply continues to work, answering politely every once in while. When Mowen asks his name, the worker responds that he is Owen Kellogg. (Kellogg is the man who resigned from Taggart Transcontinental despite Dagny's entreaty.) Mowen assures him that things are being done to increase competition. A new man has just been appointed head of the Bureau of Economic Planning and National Resources. Mowen does not know much about him, but the name, Wesley Mouch , has been in every major newspaper.
Over the next few weeks, Dagny and Rearden seek each other whenever possible, always secretly. After a banquet held in his honor, Rearden comes to Dagny's apartment. He confesses that he had gone to the banquet hoping to enjoy himself, that he had wanted to make peace with the world. He felt that the triumph of his metal should have changed everything, even people, but the people at the party had disappointed him. It was not the right place to seek anything, Dagny points out. She tells him that she wants to build a transcontinental line of Rearden Metal within three years. He thinks it should be no problem. In three years, Rearden expects to have mills all over the country. She points out that they would be illegal, but he does not think the Equalization of Opportunity Bill will last that long. He has just purchased several new furnaces, increasing the capacity of his mill to keep up with the explosive demand following their test run. All the real work is done. Now, he can sit back and enjoy the rewards. He asks Dagny to go on vacation with him for a few weeks. She assents. Both know the risk they will be taking.
For days, Dagny and Rearden drive around the country. They check into small, seedy roadside hotels along their route, always under assumed names. Driving through Illinois, Dagny tells Rearden that she is worried about the John Galt Line. If she cannot find someone to produce decent diesel engines, all the effort she has poured into the Line will have been a waste. She knows that Ted Nielsen is her only hope, but he is having trouble finding machine tools with which to begin production. He has nothing but promises and excuses from his suppliers. She wants to go see a motor plant in Wisconsin, the Twentieth Century Motor Company manufacturing plant. Taggart provided transportation a few years ago for this factory, perhaps the best plant in the country, though it has since gone out of business. When they reach Wisconsin, they find that the clean, paved road has been smashed and carted away. For the next few miles, they drive over rough, littered terrain. After some effort, they reach what was once an industrial town. Its residents seem to be living in a squalid, difficult past; they are aged, dirty, without hope. In the distance, they see the huge factory of the Twentieth Century Motor Company. Rearden and Dagny find no help in town. They decide to try and find their own way to the factory.
When they reach the factory, Dagny and Rearden find the place completely gutted. Every major machine was taken long ago for some other purpose. Dagny suggests they split up and look around anyway, just in case. In a room that was clearly once a laboratory, Dagny finds the model of a strange engine. It looks like nothing she has ever seen before. She examines it for some time, trying to decipher the interaction of its intricate parts. Suddenly, she becomes very excited. She looks around desperately, picking up and discarding every piece of paper in sight. She finds a sheaf of pages clipped together: a manuscript that was once a description of the motor. She screams for Rearden. He runs in, thinking that she has been hurt, but when she shows him the sheaf, he, too, realizes its significance. It is a model for an engine capable of collecting static electricity from the air, a virtually infinite supply of power. The idea had been given up years ago as impossible, but someone has clearly done it. Someone, somewhere, has completely redefined the nature of motive power. Dagny vows to find the man capable of such a creation. Rearden wonders why someone would leave an invention like this to rot in an empty factory. They spend the rest of the day searching all over the plant for clues, but find nothing. They load the engine onto their car and drive away.
Rearden and Dagny find a nearby office of records and discover the name of a one-time owner in Rome, Wisconsin. They seek him out, but he has no answers to give them. He purchased the factory in a bankruptcy sale for a major bank. Before it had gone out of business, the factory had been operated by Eugene Lawson, the "banker with a heart." He does not know, however, where Lawson or any of the other owners are. Frustrated by the lack of information, Dagny calls Eddie Willers in New York. Eddie begs her to return to New York: he is not sure, but he thinks the Legislature is trying to "kill Colorado."
When Dagny returns to Manhattan, she finds that the city is alive with blurred, uncertain dangers. The Union of Locomotive Engineers is demanding that the maximum speed of all trains on the John Galt Line be reduced to sixty miles an hour. The Union of Railway Conductors and Brakemen is demanding that the length of all freight trains on the Line be reduced to sixty cars. The states of Wyoming, New Mexico, Utah, and Arizona are demanding that the number of trains run in Colorado not exceed the number running in each of these neighboring states. A group headed by Orren Boyle is demanding the passage of a law limiting the production of Rearden Metal to an amount equal to the output of any other steel mill of equal capacity. A group headed by Mr. Mowen is demanding the passage of a law giving every customer who wants it an equal supply of Rearden Metal. Dagny feels helplessness overcoming her. Her brother does not see what the problem is. Everyone deserves a fair share, he argues.
Rearden returns to his office and finds that Paul Larkin did not deliver that month's supply of ore. He calls Larkin to his office. Larkin is indignant. It was not his fault, he argues; he had to think of the national situation. Rearden's ore went to Orren Boyle. After this, Rearden begins to scour the nation for new ore mines. He signs shady contracts, hoping that the men he deals with are honest. When he returns to his home in New York, his wife comes to see him in his bedroom. She has never before come to him like this. She accuses him of not acknowledging her existence, of breaking their marriage contract by not caring at all about her happiness. Her accusations are like vicious stabs, crippling Rearden. She approaches him and puts her arms around him, but he throws her aside furiously. He is broken by a feeling of disloyalty--but not to her.
Dagny goes to see Eugene Lawson in Washington, and he sends her to Lee Hunsacker. He sends her to talk to Lee Hunsacker, the president of the corporation that ran the factory. Hunsacker tells her that he purchased the factory from the heirs of Jed Starnes. He had asked Midas Mulligan for a loan, but Mulligan had refused him. Midas Mulligan, Dagny remembers with a start, was once the richest man in the country. It was said that everything he touched turned to gold. Seven years ago, he had vanished without a trace. When Mulligan refused Hunsacker, Hunsacker filed suit against him. The judge in charge, Judge Narragansett, criticized Hunsacker viciously and found for Mulligan, but Hunsacker appealed to a higher court and won. Mulligan had three months to pay, but before the period was up, he disappeared. Narragansett disappeared a few months later. Hunsacker went to Eugene Lawson, and Lawson had given him the money to buy the factory. He had the factory repainted and installed a new cafeteria and a playroom. When Nielsen Motors opened in Colorado, Hunsacker's plant could not compete.
Dagny flies to Louisiana to find the Starnes heirs. Gerald Starnes is a bitter, dirty, unkempt waste. He tells her that there is no good in the universe, that he had once tried to do good but now knows that it is a useless quest. He suggests she talk to his sister. Ivy Starnes tells Dagny about the plan she had implemented in the Twentieth Century Motor Company factory. The workers of the factory gathered twice a year. Each worker would present his claim for what he believed were his needs, and his peers would vote on it. Those whose needs were the greatest received the most money. Those who had not produced as much as the vote said they could were fined and had to pay the fines by working overtime without pay. Dagny tells herself to remember the words of this woman: it is not often that one has the chance to see pure evil. Starnes remembers the name of the chief engineer, a William Hastings, who was the second man to quit. She does not remember who the first man to quit was, but she knows that Hastings left for Brandon, Wyoming.
Dagny finds the wife of William Hastings in Wyoming. Her husband, she tells Dagny, died five years ago. After he quit Twentieth Century Motors, he seemed to struggle with an inner problem for over a year. Then, suddenly, he quit his new job and told her he would not work again. He looked completely at peace. After this, he left for one month each summer to some unknown place. She once found him eating dinner with an elderly man and a very young, tall man. He walked to her and pointed to the young man. That, he said, is the boy he had told her about, the "great maker of motors." Last spring, she had seen the elderly man working behind a counter in a roadside diner on Route 66.
Dagny finds the diner and the man. She is surprised by his competence and offers him a job on a Taggart dining car, but he refuses. He has no interest in furthering his career as a cook. She asks about the young engineer, and he does remember. He identifies himself as Hugh Akston . She is shocked by this revelation. Akston was the last great advocate of reason, the greatest philosopher in the world at one time. She wants to know why he would work at a diner for a living when he had once been so much more. Because he is a philosopher, he answers. He tells her to forget her quest for the engineer. He cannot give her the information she needs, and nothing she says will change his mind. She asks about the three students Stadler mentioned to her, asks him if Akston is proud of the way they turned out. He looks off with the look of a father watching his sons fighting in a war. He is more proud than he had ever hoped, he answers.
When she returns to New York, Dagny finds that every law the "looters" were seeking has been passed under the Fair Share Act. The railroads have been ordered to reduce the maximum speed of all trains to sixty miles per hour, to reduce the maximum length of all trains to sixty cars, to run the same number of trains in every state of a zone composed of five neighboring states, the country being divided into zones. The steel mills of the country are ordered to limit the maximum production of any metal alloy to an amount equal to the production of other metal alloys by other mills and to supply a fair share of any metal alloy to all consumers who might desire to obtain it. A special tax has been imposed on the state of Colorado. Dagny is desperate and terrified. She has no idea what to do. She tries to contact Ellis Wyatt , to prevent him from doing what she knows he is going to do, but she cannot reach him. When she gets to Colorado, she sees the glow of the immense sheet of flame that is now Wyatt Oil. Ellis Wyatt has vanished, leaving nothing behind but a wooden board imprinted with the words: "I am leaving it as I found it. Take over. It's yours."
Nothing in this plot is without a purpose. Ivy Starnes tells Dagny that William Hastings was the second man to quit. The detail seems too irrelevant. Clearly, there is something significant in the actions of the first man. Notice also the constant references to the third student. One became a playboy; another became a pirate; and the third is curiously unknown and unidentified. We will later find that those who know him consistently avoid speaking his name precisely because it is such an important one.
Owen Kellogg, William Hastings, and Hugh Akston represent a specific kind of man in this novel. They all loved their work passionately, suffered greatly, and retired to meaningless labor. Each felt that he was facing a terrible decision, but once the decision was made, each felt only peace and strength. Francisco d'Anconia did the same in a sense, though he remained very active after his "retirement." The unexplained aspects of the novel are slowly beginning to coalesce--around these men and a force so powerful that it could tear them from their lifelong passion. When Akston tells Dagny that he retired because he is a philosopher, he is giving a name and a shape to this force. His philosophy is the philosophy of reason, and therefore only reason could have pulled him away from the world. To live in the world as Dagny lives, as Rearden lives--under the yoke of weak, malicious men--presented to Akston and the others some fundamental logical contradiction. Though its full nature has not yet been revealed, this is the force at work among the nation's great industrialists: reason.
The Fair Share Act represents the most vicious act of looting to date in the novel. It is essentially an execution order for every man in Colorado. Running at half capacity and nearly half speed, Dagny's train cannot possibly keep up with the needs of Wyatt and his friends. In addition, many among them purchased Taggart bonds at great expense when Dagny needed funds as an investment in their own future. Now, those bonds are completely worthless. As if this were not enough, the new tax imposed on the entire state sounds the final knell. Colorado cannot survive under such conditions
Part II: Chapters 1-2
Dr. Robert Stadler is pacing in his office, furious and bewildered. He has just read a book entitled Why Do You Think You Think?, by Dr. Floyd Ferris. Its essential theme: reason and logic are old-fashioned concepts, inadequate to a universe that science has proven to be random and irrational. The book is full of glaring contradictions, but it bears the endorsement of the State Science Institute. Ferris enters Stadler's office half an hour late. Stadler expresses surprise that Ferris has been spending so much time in Washington and asks why the Institute is undertaking so many government assignments. Ferris explains that a great many men of science are needed for the Wyatt Reclamation Project. Now that most of the fires have been extinguished, someone has to get the oil fields back to full capacity. He says the project is going very well. They have even received a larger appropriation from Wesley Mouch himself. Stadler asks him about Project X. He heard some young scientists talking about it in the manner of amateur detectives. Ferris tells him that Project X is very important and very secret. He is sure that Stadler does not wish to be bothered with the details. Stadler agrees readily. He remembers why he called Ferris to his office in the first place. He asks Ferris why published such a piece of filth, how he could so lewdly profane the reputation of the Institute. Ferris tells him that the book is intended for the unreasoning public and will do wonders for the Institute's popularity. Stadler cannot hold his stand against such evasions. After Ferris leaves, Stadler receives a call from Dagny Taggart , asking him for an interview. He is very eager to see her, to temporarily leave behind the corruption of his world, and promises to pass by her office that very afternoon.
Dagny crosses yet another train from the rapidlyy diminishing Colorado lines. Train Number 93 once serviced Hammondsville; Hammond has disappeared, so the train is no longer of any use. Andrew Stockton, producer of coal-burning stoves, is gone as well. With Wyatt Oil gone and most of the nation's power plants converting to coal, Stockton was in a position to make an immense fortune. Without warning, he announced his retirement and vanished. Ken Dannager, of Dannager Coal, is one of the few men left. The only Taggart train running on oil is the Taggart Comet, their transcontinental flagship, but all others are running on coal. They are pulling less and less every day, but Jim has acquired a stream of subsidies from Washington that keep Taggart profits at an all-time high. Seeking refuge from the senselessness, Dagny has intensified her quest for the mind behind the static engine. She has interviewed several men, highly recommended by her brother, but they were all worthless. She needs to find a decent engineer, and so she has called Stadler. When he enters her office, he is clearly very glad to see her. She hands him the remnant of the manuscript. He looks over it for some time. It's tremendous, he exclaims when he is finished. In order to create this engine, a product of pure technology, the inventor must have first solved a great abstract energy problem. Stadler is angry that the inventor did not publish his findings. Dagny asks him if there is a physicist he knows who is capable of reconstructing the engine. He tells her that he knows of no one he would recommend. Nonetheless, he very much wants to see the engine itself. She takes him to its vault deep in the heart of the Taggart Terminal. He is astounded by the engine's beauty. He tells her that the mark of a second-rater is his inability to appreciate another man's achievement. A second-rater would only be content in a world filled with his inferiors, while a man of achievement would wither and die in such a world. Men of true talent seek and appreciate true talent. He tells her that there is a man who could help her. He knows he is her kind of man because he refused to work for Stadler and the Institute. She is beginning to feel admiration for Stadler when he comments, bitterly, sarcastically, that the man had no desire to work for the good of society. The touch of admiration is gone--Stadler sees it draining from Dagny's face. As they emerge from the vault, Stadler hears a worker utter the now infamous question, "Who is John Galt?" He is shocked. He knew a John Galt once, but he must be dead now. The man had such a mind that, had he lived, the entire world would be talking about him by now. Dagny points out that the whole world is talking about him. Stadler is struck by the thought in sudden realization, but refuses to answer any more questions.
Hank Rearden receives an order for ten thousand tons of Rearden Metal for something called Project X. He tells the superintendent of his mills to ignore the order. Over the last few months, the vague directives have coalesced into irrational, permanent number. Rearden can only deliver five hundred tons of Rearden Metal to any one customer, and his production capacity is limited to an arbitrary number, set by Washington. Five hundred tons of Rearden Metal is not enough for three miles of Taggart line, or the bracings for a single Dannager coal mine. Men with influence manage to acquire much more than their "fair share," and Rearden Metal is appearing all over the market--as coffee pots, garden tools, and bathroom faucets. Washington assigned a Deputy Director of Distribution to help Rearden distribute his metal fairly. The boy, nicknamed "the Wet Nurse" by the mill workers, enters Rearden's office angrily. He tells Rearden that his refusal was unwise. A week later, a man from the Institute comes to see Rearden. He tries to convince Rearden to be acquiesce, but Rearden refuses. He tells the representative to bring in trucks and steal as much metal as the Institute needs, but he will not help Washington pretend that he is a willing seller. The man seems frightened. He issues some vague threats and leaves. Afterwards, Rearden feels that he has taken the right path toward something very important.
Over the next few weeks, Rearden buys Dagny several extravagant gifts. He tells her that he has never before enjoyed purchasing things. Now, his purchases have a very special, and very rewarding purpose. One night, sitting together in her apartment, they discuss the nature of the looters. Rearden tells her that the looters understand something he does not, and he must solve the puzzle quickly. The man from the State Science Institute seemed terrified when Rearden refused to help him pretend. He realizes that the looters need his sanction--that Dr. Stadler needed Dagny's sanction when he went to see her. He knows that if they are to survive, they must never give the looters this.
Nearly every man in Colorado is gone. Ted Nielsen, of Nielsen Motors, tells Dagny that he is afraid of the force at work. He knows that his comrades would never leave unless they had an undeniable reason, but he cannot imagine what it could be. Dagny feels that she must fight this force, whatever it is. She has an interview with Quentin Daniels, the man Stadler recommended. Daniels has been conducting research in the abandoned laboratory of a closed university. When he sees the sketches, he tells her he will take the job at any price. She tells him to set his own price, and he asks for an incredibly low monthly salary. If he can reconstruct the motor, however, he will take a huge percentage of its profit. Dagny laughs at the confidence of his offer and agrees.
Rearden has just had a furtive meeting with Ken Dannager for four thousand tons of Rearden Metal. He resents having to meet his partners like criminals, but he has no other choice. He is surprised that he has to hide the only satisfying business deal he has made all year, and he has to hide his nights with Dagny, the "only hours that keep him alive." He feels there is some connection between the two secrets that he must discover. Suddenly, Lillian bursts into the room. She has come to see him in New York because he now spends so much time there. She asks him to come with her to Jim Taggart 's wedding party. He thinks it would be monstrous and painful to face Dagny in public as his wife's trophy, but he does not want to ask Lillian to spare him. He reluctantly agrees.
Over the last few months, Jim and Cherryl have been seeing more and more of each other. He confessed to her his incredible unhappiness and insecurity, and though she understood little of what he was saying, she understood that something had hurt him. He took her once to an important party, where she was the center of insolent attention. Nonetheless, she stood bravely before the cynical, unpleasant people of high society. Afterwards, Jim asked her to marry him. Shedding tears of pure joy, she accepted. She was called "Cinderella Girl" and Jim was called the "Democratic Businessman." He seemed to revel in the title.
At the party, Boyle warns Jim that he is losing his grip on Wesley Mouch . Mouch's power may soon be directed for someone else's benefit. When Cherryl sees Dagny, she criticizes her angrily for hurting Jim all these years. Dagny has no answer to give her except cold disinterest. Rearden feels like he is trudging though a difficult and unbearable ordeal. No one seems to be talking about anything. Every conversation he enters seems to have no subject and no definitive statements. He feels like a foreigner who can understand some words but not the overall sentences. A drunken man walks by and asked angrily if Rearden has learned his lesson. Rearden has no idea why the man said what he said, but everyone around him seems to know, and they all look shocked and pleased. Lillian approaches Jim and asks him how he liked her wedding present. He looks around for it, but she suggests he give up the search. She has given him the best gift he could have, Hank Rearden's presence. The others now might think that Rearden is afraid of Jim, and such an opinion could be very valuable for Jim's reputation. After this, she approaches Dagny and sparks a conversation. Rearden notices them together and walks toward them. She notices that Dagny is wearing the Rearden Metal bracelet. She tells Dagny that she wants it back, but Dagny refuses. Lillian wonders why Dagny would do such a thing. Others at the party might misconstrue the situation. Dagny wants her to speak more clearly, but Lillian continues to suggest only that others might draw false conclusions from Dagny's insistence on keeping the bracelet. Dagny asks if this is Lillian's way of suggesting that she and Rearden are having an affair, and Lillian's reaction is swift and dramatic. She denies the suggestion. She says that an affair is the possibility farthest from her mind. Rearden, standing nearby, demands that she apologize to Dagny. Both women are shocked. After some hesitation, Lillian offers an apology. Rearden once stood by his wife. Now he stands by Dagny.
Later at the party, James Taggart is speaking to a group of friends. He tells them that they will build a society dedicated to higher ideals. They will replace the aristocracy of money by "--the aristocracy of pull," says a voice behind him. It is Francisco d'Anconia , and every man in the group is shocked to see him. D'Anconia asks Jim to present him to Cherryl. When he meets her, he bows his head solemnly and offers his best wishes, giving the moment a kind of grandeur the event otherwise lacks. Afterward, he tells Jim he would have never missed the wedding of his largest stockholder. Jim is shocked, because he owns the stock through several dummy corporations. D'Anconia tells him that he knows every investor on his board. Many of the "old-fashioned" businessmen dropped out after San Sebastian, but a great many of the new aristocracy are left. He finds Dagny and asks her if she wants to know now who John Galt is. He told her once that Galt would come to claim her Line, and now he has. He leaves her, not waiting to see the look of bewilderment and anger in her eyes. When Francisco declares that the world is getting exactly what it deserves, Bertram Scudder announces, thinking himself outside Francisco's hearing range, that money is the root of all evil, and d'Anconia is its typical product. Francisco turns to him and delivers an astounding dissertation on the true role of money. Money, he says, is precisely the antithesis of evil, the shape of man's resistance to evil. He further says that the proudest distinction of Americans, which includes all other distinctions, is that they created the phrase "to make money." After his speech, he walks directly to Rearden. He tells Rearden that there are no evil thoughts except the refusal to think, and that this is precisely the mistake that Rearden is making by living as he does. He wants to show Rearden the alternative. Tomorrow morning, he says, the holders of d'Anconia stock will discover that through a series of purely incompetent mishaps, nearly every mine of consequence in South America has been mined incorrectly. They will all collapse. The d'Anconia ore mines and d'Anconia foundries have all been run with the same purposeful absentmindedness. D'Anconia stock will collapse. Rearden bursts out laughing. He senses that in his reaction to d'Anconia's announcement he is submitting to a hidden and growing desire within him. During that one instant, he feels an immense freedom. Afterwards, he reacts angrily. He tells d'Anconia that he will not cheer such senseless destruction. They hear two men talking near them. One is an honest, though insignificant businessman. The other is a shark from Washington. The Washington man tells the businessman that he has not yet decided whether or not to allow him to make profit this year. Rearden glances at Francisco and sees a face pure with the single-minded purpose of justice. D'Anconia turns to Rearden and says in a loose tone of irresponsibility that he is sorry Rearden could not give him the loan. This will surely put him in a sore spot. Suddenly, the shark seems broken and small. He asks d'Anconia about the stock, and d'Anconia tells him to sell as much as possible before tomorrow morning. The word spreads violently through the party. In a few minutes' time, every man has left the room in a panicked rush. Across the spread of wreckage, Dagny looks at Francisco, and Francisco and Rearden look at each other.
In her conversation with Jim , Lillian unveils another layer of her personality. When he asks her why she wishes to present Rearden to a group of such men, she responds that she wants only Jim's appreciation, though her purpose is much more complex. She knows that her marriage to Rearden is like a shackle on his unspeakable strength, and this is exactly what she wants. Why, then, does she continue to restrain him? The answer, and the full depth of Lillian's misery, is revealed later in the novel.
According to Boyle and Scudder, most men at Jim Taggart's party fall into one of two categories: those who have come as a favor to Jim and those who have come in fear of his hostility. The first group consists mostly of Washington men, the second mostly of businessmen. The sum of the two groups is an estimation of Taggart's power. The mechanism is enormous and intricate, based solely on each man's connection to the ultimate power in a decaying nation: physical force. Though everyone is conscious of this fact, no one is willing to admit it. The bare, ugly truth of modern power is hidden behind a mask of words and euphemisms. Francisco reveals the fragility of this illusion when he asks if any of them have ever considered that to destroy their entire complex structure of society, it would only take someone naming the exact nature of what they are doing. This line is a subtle, brilliant piece of foreshadowing. In Part III, someone will provide the words to shatter the illusion of the "Aristocracy of Pull."
Part II: Chapters 3-4
After the party, in Hank 's New York hotel room, Lillian tells Rearden she is going to take a train home. Rearden escorts her to the station. After Lillian steps out of the cab, he gives the driver Dagny 's address. He finds her awake. During their conversation, he asks her forgiveness for his marriage. He tells her that he was not being honest with himself at Wyatt 's house, after their first night together. She has always known this.
When Rearden returns to his hotel room the next morning, he finds Lillian waiting for him. She has been waiting for him for some time. She asks him if he has some kind of justification, but he offers none. She tells him that from then on, he will not be able to pretend he is better than everyone else. She tells him that she wants him to think of her whenever he builds another furnace or pours another ton of steel. She wants him to remember that he is not the moral hero he pretends to be. Rearden stands before her bitterness solemnly and patiently, weak with absolute revulsion. Afterwards, he feels like he has achieved the most difficult victory of his life: that Lillian walked out of the hotel room alive.
Dr. Floyd Ferris enters Rearden's office with an expression of malicious confidence. He wants to discuss the delivery of the first five thousand tons of Rearden Metal, due soon to the State Science Institute. Rearden reminds him that he told the Institute's previous representative that he would not fill the order. Ferris tells him that he should reconsider, because the Institute knows about his illegal meeting with Dannager. If Rearden does not deliver as requested, he will be arrested and put on trial for violating the Fair Share Act. Rearden senses something significant in Ferris's manner, as if he represent an elusive but very important piece of a puzzle. He points out that Ferris seems pleased by the fact that Rearden broke a law. Rearden suddenly realizes what he has been groping for. Ferris continues to speak, unaware. The only power a government really has, he says, is its ability to punish criminals. If one wishes to expand these powers, one must simply expand the definition of criminality. By passing the kind of laws that no one can safely observe, the government has created a nation of law- breakers, a nation under complete control. This is the truth Rearden for which has been looking. He tells Ferris that there is a flaw in his system, a flaw that he will discover when he puts Rearden on trial for selling four thousand tons of Rearden Metal to Ken Dannager. He rings for his secretary and tells her that Dr. Ferris has become confused and lost his way. She enters the office and escorts the doctor out. Afterwards, she returns to Rearden's office laughing in exultation.
Eddie Willers is eating lunch with his worker friend. He is worried about Dagny. She has heard about the charges against Rearden and Dannager. She knows that Rearden is strong enough to stand against them, but she is afraid for Dannager. She thinks he is ready to break. She has noticed a pattern to disappearance of the industrialists. Each man retires just as he is needed most, just as the entire nation seems to depend on him. Dannager's coal is now needed more badly than anything else in the world, and she is afraid the destroyer will be able to take advantage of this stress. She is going to see Dannager tomorrow afternoon. The worker demonstrates an abnormal curiosity in Dagny and her plans.
When Dagny reaches Dannager's office, his secretary informs her that Mr. Dannager still speaking with his last caller. She seems afraid, because her boss has a passion for punctuality. He has never before delayed an appointment for any reason. Dagny is extremely worried. She sits outside his door, waiting impatiently. The secretary offers as a bewildered explanation that the caller did not have an appointment, and that he has been in there for over two hours now. After fifty minutes, Dannager finally rings her in. As she enters, she sees the private exit door close behind someone. She finds that Dananger's face is completely serene and content. She feels relief at first, thinking that she has reached him in time, but soon discovers otherwise. Dannager is going to quit. He assures her that even if she had reached him before his last caller, she would not have been able to prevent his retirement. He has only one request to make of her. His only real regret is that he is leaving Rearden behind at such a dangerous time. He wants her to tell Rearden that he is the only man Dannager has ever loved. He had not realized until today that his admiration and respect for Rearden were a form of love, but now that he knows it, he wants Dagny to tell Rearden.
Standing at the window of his office, Rearden feels an immense loneliness. Dagny has just given him Dannager's final message. He thinks about the freedom Dannager is experiencing, and for a moment he wishes the destroyer would find him and give him an irresistible reason to leave his mills and the world behind. Something in him rebels against the weakness. He thinks that he would murder the man who approached him before he could speak the reasons that would take him away from his mills. He pulls on his overcoat and walks through the office, on his way out. Before he can reach the door, he sees Francisco d'Anconia sitting casually on a desk. Francisco has been waiting for him. He begins to question Rearden about his principles. Why, he asks, does Rearden live by one set of principles at his mills and by another when he deals with men? He asks about Rearden Metal. By all accounts, Rearden should have reaped the benefits of his incredible effort, should have received admiration and respect from his fellow men, but instead he has been punished. Living in society should make one's life easier, but this society has made Rearden's existence harder. He asks Rearden how he can feel proud of an invention that has so far drained the powers of strong, decent men and filled the pockets of small, thieving bureaucrats. By pouring his best effort into his metal and allowing unworthy men to take it from him, Rearden has sanctioned the actions of his enemies. Rearden has accepted an undeserved guilt, and that is a great sin. Francisco asks: if Rearden saw Atlas, holding the weight of the world, and the harder he worked to hold it up the heavier it became, what would he do? Rearden asks what Francisco would tell him to do. "To shrug," Francisco answers. Rearden understands. He sees his entire life and all the pain he has suffered. He seems ready to follow Francisco.
Suddenly, both men hear the scream of an alarm siren. Rearden feels that he leaped for the door the instant he heard the siren, but realizes that he must have been a second late, because Francisco reaches it first and dashes down the hallway. When Rearden reaches the mill, he finds that a furnace has broken. White-hot liquid iron is gushing from a hole low on its side. He sees Francisco standing before the furnace, and stops dead still at the sight. Francisco is performing an art he thought no one else in the world could do anymore. He is slinging packs of baked mud into the hole. Rearden had learned to do this working in his youth at outdated mills, where after a furnace was tapped, it was his job to seal the hole by hand. The role was considered far too dangerous for human beings, and so now everywhere in the country, machines perform the task. Francisco is doing it with the skill of an expert. Rearden runs to his side and joins the battle. They are the only two men fighting the spreading inferno. Rearden sees Francisco lose his balance and tip forward. The distance between them has grown considerably, and Rearden has just enough time to think that he cannot make the leap before he finds himself at Francisco's side, holding his shoulder. He has saved Francisco's life. Slowly, the two stem the flow until the gap is completely sealed. They return to Rearden's office, where Rearden treats Francisco like a son, cleaning and bandaging his wounds. He asks if Francisco wishes to continue their earlier conversation. Francisco tells him that he cannot finish tonight, that he knows now exactly why Rearden remains with his mills.
Sitting at Thanksgiving dinner with his family, Rearden feels an immense distance separating him from them. His mother wonders why he is willing to stand trial. Men of distinction do not go to jail, she argues. He needs to adjust to the spirit of the times and compromise. If he could only do that, he would spare his family a great deal of hardship. Lillian attacks him, declaring that he is not above reproach, as she perfectly knows, and so he should not attempt to be martyr. Rearden turns to her attentively. He feels that he is close to understanding the flaw in her accusations. She continues to accuse him, but her attempts to hurt him are futile. Suddenly, he realizes that she is trying to force upon him the suffering of dishonor, but in order to do so is relying on his sense of honor. She wants him to admit his own immorality, but such an admission could only come from his moral rectitude. He wonders if she understands the nature of what she is doing. His brother Phillip gives a short speech about the immorality of all businessmen. Rearden warns him that if he ever repeats such filth in this house, he will find himself on the street. Phillip is stunned. He points out that Rearden has never objected to his political views before. Rearden suddenly says the things he has always thought, but never allowed himself to reveal. He tells Phillip that he is an object of charity who has long ago lost his right to anything. Whatever affection Rearden might have once felt for him is gone. His family is shocked, but offers no accusations. Rearden stands and leaves. On his way to New York, he finds himself thinking about the Wet Nurse, the young boy assigned to him from Washington. The Wet Nurse had known about Rearden's deal with Dannager, but had not reported him to Washington. On a holiday, Rearden had found him at the office, working. A change was coming over him.
Rearden goes to see Dagny at her office. She has recently ordered sixty thousand tons of steel from him, because she needed to fix the main transcontinental line very badly and did not have the time or influence to obtain a special permit for Rearden Metal. He informs her that for the price she paid for the steel, she will be getting eighty thousand tons of Rearden Metal. He wants the change to be a secret, known only by those who could not report them. He is doing this, he tells her, because he desperately needs to enjoy his work.
The crowd at the trial is not against Rearden. They know within themselves that businessmen are not to blame for the national emergency. They look to Rearden with curiosity and a sense of defiance against a system that had tried to condition them to hate him. The three presiding judges ask Rearden to present his defense, but Rearden tells them that he will not honor the court by making a statement. The judges are confused. According to the rules, Rearden has to defend himself. He stands accused of illegally selling his metal. He declares that he does not recognize the court's right to control the sale of his metal. He will not help to pretend that these proceedings are in any way legal or moral. He explains that he lives for the sake of creation and profit, and that he refuses to apologize for his success. If the public good requires victims, he says, then damn the public good; he will not have a part in it. Suddenly, the crowd bursts into applause behind him. Rearden wheels around, shocked. The judges tell Rearden that his defiance is really unnecessary, that they are trying to cooperate with him. After all, he is an important man. They know that the guilt rests mostly with Ken Dannager, who exerted pressure on Rearden for his own greedy motives. Rearden denies this, explaining that the deal was completely mutual and voluntary. The judges are frightened and apologetic. They impose a $5000 fine on him, but suspend the sentence. The crowd bursts once again into applause. After the trial, many spectators approach Rearden, asking for help. They know that businessmen are not to blame, that something terrible is at work. They are afraid. Rearden wonders how these good people could live in such misery.
A few days after the trial, Rearden goes to see d'Anconia. He finds Francisco on the floor of his office, working on a design of what looks like a smelter. As soon as Rearden enters, Francisco throws the drawings aside. Francisco talks about human sexual desire and its expression. A man's lover is the embodiment of his moral code. If he despises himself, he will pursue smutty, immoral women. If he truly knows his own worth, he will seek out the greatest. He will seek a goddess. Rearden feels remorse for his own poor judgment. Francisco continues, unaware of Rearden's thoughts. He points out that sex is much like making money. Both are acts of self-worship or self-loathing, depending on the subject. Though he has purposely fueled the scandals surrounding his own love life, Francisco has never touched any of the women he was supposedly dating. He gave them exactly what they wanted: the admiration and envy of other women. He tells Rearden that he has only loved one woman in his life, and he hopes he has not lost her yet. Rearden tells him that he, too, has a secret. He is going to sell his metal to whomever he wants, whenever he wants. He has ordered the copper needed for the new metal from a man he now knows he can trust, from d'Anconia himself. Francisco leaps to his feet, dismayed. He shouts desperately that he had warned Rearden not to deal with d'Anconia copper. He runs to the phone, but stops himself. He turns to Rearden and swears, for the time when Rearden will damn him and doubt every word he has spoken, that he is Rearden's friend. Three days later, Rearden remembers, through a shock of loss and hatred, Francisco's agonized but solemn face. Three ships of d'Anconia copper, bound for New York, have been attacked and sunk by Ragnar Danneskjold .
Atlas Shrugged has been criticized repeatedly for the flatness of some of its characters. An Ayn Rand enthusiast would argue that the characters are not flat, but rather whole. In Rand's philosophy, Rearden and Dagny represent the completion of mankind, the ideal embodied. In order to convey the potential nobility of man and the nature of his greatest enemy, Rand created archetypes for each. She simplified the world into its component forces to demonstrate the conflict between the best and the worst in man. She believes these qualities are absolute and mutually exclusive, and so her characters must be absolute as well.
The image of a noble, struggling titan suffering horribly under the weight of a self-righteous world is the fundamental symbol of this novel. One of the major themes in Atlas Shrugged is the idea that for millennia, the greatest and brightest among us have been unjustly asked to sacrifice themselves for their fellow men. These men (and in Rand's novels, the heroes are always men) owed nothing to the world, but they were made to believe that their strength and ability were crimes against the weak and incompetent, that their desire to seek joy and satisfaction was a sin against the miserable and desperate. As Rearden discovers, this claim was dependent upon the compassion and nobility of the exploited men. The only rebellion possible against such a system is renunciation, and this is why the most brilliant industrialists of the world are willingly abandoning their passions in Atlas Shrugged.
Rearden's stand during the Thanksgiving meal is an important step in his quest to shed the weight of an undeserving world. His family reacts with fear and panic. They know that their hold on him is precarious and dependent on his abstract sense of familial duty. They know that they offer him nothing but criticism and pain, and that he can cast them from his home. Like the rest of the world, they have fed from his incredible productive capacity without acknowledgment or gratitude, clinging to their need as the sole claim to his strength. Rearden was nearly ready to abandon the world and its problems, but the accident reminded him of his love for the mills. Francisco knows that it is precisely this love that will one day convince Rearden.
Part II: Chapters 5-6
The order for Taggart rail is the first failure in the history of Rearden Steel. Without the copper, there is nothing Rearden can do. Winter has come early for most of the country. People say that it is the hardest winter on record, and so no one can be blamed for the hardship of the months to come. Huge snowstorms sweep through unheated, unlit towns, killing hundreds. No one seems to remember that there was a time when man was master of the elements. The last of the small businessmen across the country are forced to close down their companies. The supplies they need to survive are either late or rerouted to more needy candidates. Bertram Scudder publicly declares that the plight of the nation is a blessing because it will strengthen the spirit of the people. When the Mississippi bridge of the Atlantic Southern collapses under the weight of a passenger train, several railroads lay down rail on the great Taggart Bridge, at Bedford, Illinois. It is the last major link holding the country together. Nathaniel Taggart built it many years ago, after a grueling battle with a reluctant government.
At a meeting of the Board of Directors, several Taggart Transcontinental executives carefully, subtly suggest that the Rio Norte Line be closed down. The line is running at a loss, and the company needs the Rearden Metal rails to reinforce the main transcontinental line. They want Dagny to give them her approval, but she refuses to participate. Reluctantly, after much double- talking, they vote to close the Line. Mr. Weatherby, a representative from Washington, reminds Jim that they need to obtain permission before he can close a branch line. If he wants to get the permits he needs, he will have to offer Wesley Mouch something valuable, perhaps a raise in wages for his union employees. Mouch needs the support. Taggart reluctantly agrees. As she leaves the meeting, Dagny feels a profound agony. She tells herself to be strong. On her way out through the lobby, she finds Francisco d'Anconia waiting for her. He has come to her because he guessed the purpose of the meeting and knew that she would need support. Outside, he points to the city. It was built, he reminds her, by men of purpose and courage. There is still hope for the world, because such men always have and always will exist. He asks her how long she is willing to continue working for people who do not deserve her. She tells him that, whatever the cost, she cannot abandon the railroad.
Dagny and Rearden take one of the last trains to Colorado on the John Galt Line, to buy whatever machinery they might find in the closed factories. She notices that all the luxury stores are closed, and then realizes with surprise the things she considers "luxury." Dry cleaning, electrical appliances, gas stations, drug stores--these were once available even to the poorest. The only stores still open are grocery stores and saloons. After purchasing some machines at the Nielsen Motor Company, she and Rearden return to the rail station and step aboard her private car. As the train, the last ever to run on the John Galt Line, departs the station, Dagny's pain is made easier to bear by the presence of Rearden.
Jim Taggart calls Lillian Rearden and asks her to meet him in New York. Over dinner at a luxurious, private restaurant, he asks about her husband. Wesley Mouch is trying to put into operation a new financial program, and he does not want too much opposition. He has asked Jim for his help because he knows that Rearden occasionally attends Jim's parties. Lillian laughs at the request and promises that she will try to keep Rearden in line. That night, she calls Rearden's secretary to ask his whereabouts. She informs Lillian that he will be returning the next day on the Comet. Lillian finds out that Rearden's name is not on the registered passenger list. She concludes that he is riding under an assumed name, and that this can only mean that he is traveling with his mistress.
The next day, Lillian goes to the New York Terminal to wait for Rearden. When the train arrives and he steps onto the platform, she notices that he is alone. Suddenly, she sees Dagny Taggart standing beside her private car and she realizes the immensity of her error. When Rearden approaches her, she asks if Dagny is his mistress. He confirms her suspicions calmly, without guilt or fear. Lillian is furious. On their way home, she demands that he give up his affair. He tells her that he would never leave Dagny, even if Lillian's life depended on it; she means that much to him. Lillian can divorce him if she so chooses, but the affair will continue. He tells her that his love for Dagny is the cleanest and most serious feeling of his life. He feels a profound sense of freedom at the declaration. Lillian's anger dissipates into a haze of scheming.
Wesley Mouch, Jim Taggart, Orren Boyle, Dr. Floyd Ferris, Mr. Weatherby, and Fred Kinnan, head of the Amalgamated Labor of America, are sitting together at an office, discussing the feasibility of Mouch's new proposal. Mouch is wondering whether or not they can get away with it. Mr. Thompson, Head of the State, interjects with a reassuring comment. If Mouch declares that the new law is a noble plan motivated by the public welfare, he should have no rear problems. Mr. Thompson is a nondescript man of indeterminate age. The other men mostly ignore him. Wesley reads them the rough draft of Directive Number 10-289. All workers will henceforth be attached to their jobs and cannot leave under penalty of prison. The sentence will be determined by the Unification Board, to be appointed by the Bureau of Economic Planning. All industrial, commercial, manufacturing, and business establishments must henceforth remain in operation. All patents and copyrights shall be turned over to the Unification Board as patriotic gifts by means of Gift Certificates to be signed voluntarily by the owners of such patents and copyrights. No new devices, inventions, or products shall be produced. Every establishment engaged in production must produce the same amount of goods per year as it produced during the Basic Year, which is the year ending on the date of the directive. Every person shall spend the same amount of money per year as he or she spent during the Basic Year. All wages and prices shall be frozen at their present figures. All cases not decided directly from the rules of the directive shall be decided by the Unification Board, whose decisions will be final. After the Directive is read, the men listening feel sick for a moment. Immediately, however, they try to justify themselves. Fred Kinnan wants the Unification Board to consist solely of his lackeys. The men under him know that he is a scoundrel, but at least they can understand and depend on his greed. With the other soulless bureaucrats, his men would not stand a chance. He wants complete control of the Board. Mouch agrees. The only research department not being closed is the State Science Institute. Dr. Ferris points out that Hank Rearden will fight them violently for his patent, but Jim assures Mouch that he can control Rearden, if Mouch will allow him to raise his freight rates before the Directive freezes all prices.
Dagny Taggart wakes up at the break of morning from a brief slumber and finds herself in her office. She fell asleep here a few hours ago, working late into the night. Taggart Transcontinental is falling apart, but she is struggling to keep it together. Francisco d'Anconia calls her. He asks if she has read that morning's paper. She tells him she has not, and he suggests that she find one as soon as possible. When she reads the full text of the Directive, she stands up and walks to Jim's office. She throws the newspaper in his face and resigns. Then she tells Eddie that she is going to live in her father's hunting cabin in the Berkshire Forest. She calls Rearden and tells him she has quit and is going to live in the lodge for a while. He tells her that he must stay behind and she must not return to the city until he calls her. He knows that he will have to fight them now, and he needs the knowledge that she is safely out of their reach.
The Wet Nurse enters Rearden's office and tells him that the government has no right to do what they are going to do. He seems confused between the principles he has been taught in college and the ferocious anger he is feeling now. Dozens of industrialists have disappeared all over the country. Dr. Floyd Ferris comes to see Rearden. He has the air of a man who is completely confident of victory. He hands Rearden the Gift Certificate. Rearden Metal is to be known henceforth as Miracle Metal. Rearden asks Ferris to show him whatever it is he intends to use for blackmail. Ferris opens his briefcase and places on Rearden's desk several Photostats of hotel and auto court registers bearing the names of Mr. and Mrs. Smith in Rearden's handwriting. Ferris informs him that he has a great deal of additional evidence, including several eyewitnesses. He says that it was Rearden's wife who gave them the tip, though Rearden already knows this. Ferris knows that the scandal will not hurt Rearden at all, but it will do tremendous damage to Dagny's career. Rearden points out that this blackmail would not work if he and Dagny were the depraved people Ferris will make them out to be. Ferris agrees that this is true. Rearden points out that the blackmail would not work if their relationship were the immoral, twisted affair Ferris will proclaim it is. Again, Ferris agrees. Rearden remembers the first time he saw Dagny, standing near a train, issuing orders. She was absolutely beautiful. Rearden had felt a desire within him such as none he had ever known. He realizes now that if he had not rejected this desire, if he had not damned his love for her as a sin, this blackmail would not have been possible. He casually leans forward and signs the Gift Certificate, giving up all claims to his most beloved creation.
The Taggart Bridge over the Mississippi represents for Dagny the heart and spirit of her railroad. Nathaniel Taggart built it despite incredible opposition. He faced what looked to be an insurmountable enemy, a soulless, mindless legion of bureaucrats and officials. Just as failure seemed inevitable, Nat Taggart grew in strength and vision and triumphed over his every opponent. For Dagny, the bridge is the one part of the railroad that must never be allowed to decay. As long as it stands, the soul of Taggart is alive and well. This, of course, foreshadows the symbolism in the bridge's eventual collapse.
Rearden is slowly beginning to impose his professional moral code on his personal life. When dealing with nature, Rearden accepts nothing but the absolute. Within the gates of his mills, he does not compromise for any reason. He hires only the most competent men and pours his effort into his personal satisfaction. At home, however, he has allowed his family to manipulate and misdirect him. He has listened quietly to his brother's bitter criticism and Lillian 's vicious appeals for attention. He suspended the rigidity of his sacred moral code because he felt that it would be wrong to condemn his family without first attempting to understand them. Now, he is beginning to assert himself. He is beginning to eliminate the contradiction that has drained his energy and willpower for years. He now realizes that he will never be able to see the world as they see it because his own honorable nature will always prevent him.
Directive Number 10-289 is the final plunge into open tyranny. It represents a declaration of war against genius and production. The act is riddled with contradictions, but reason no longer applies. Its purpose is to freeze the nation in its current state of misery, with no provisions whatsoever for improvement. Notice the wording: Inventors are compelled to "voluntarily" sign over the products of their genius. The Directive is the brainchild of every socially minded activist in the history of the nation. It is the final expression of every anti-wealth slogan ever printed across the top of a newspaper.
Part II: Chapters 7-8
Eddie Willers meets his worker friend at the Taggart cafeteria. He complains about the terrible effect of the Directive on the railroad. The only competent men left are abandoning their posts at the slightest provocation. Willers has been forced to hire roving, shiftless workers to replace them. On the record, however, the new workers take the name of the old ones. A friend of Jim's, Clifton Locey, has been hired to replace Dagny . His sole purpose each day is to avoid making decisions. Under his leadership, Taggart Transcontinental will not last long. Willers has heard a rumor that Ragnar Danneskjold is destroying every factory in the country that tries to produce Rearden Metal. He hopes the story is true. He needs the reassurance that someone, somewhere is fighting the system. He is worried about Dagny, he tells the worker, because the cabin in the Berkshires is so secluded, being only twenty miles from a miserable little town like Woodstock. The worker tells him that he will not be coming back the next week because he is going on his yearly vacation. Willers expresses envy that anyone can take a month off every year for twelve years.
After work, Hank Rearden is walking to Philadelphia, nearly two hours away by foot. After his decision to give up Rearden Metal, he had called his lawyer and asked him to obtain a divorce at any cost. Now, on the dark, lonely road, he realizes that he does not care that he has lost his metal. His love for his work had been based on the belief that to trade with his fellow men was an act of honor. Suddenly, a man dressed in dark clothes steps onto the road and confronts him. He identifies himself as the friend of the friendless and hands Rearden a wrapped package. It is a bar of solid gold. The stranger knows that Rearden does not need the money, but he does need what it represents: justice, and the knowledge that there are men who care for it. The stranger's name is Ragnar Danneskjold. Rearden drops the gold on the ground and criticizes Danneskjold. He does not like to deal with criminals. Danneskjold points out that in a society where every law is backed by the threat of violence, he is giving the natural response. He is imposing on the government exactly what it has imposed on its people, but without pretenses or lies. He has dedicated his life to justice. Rearden notices that Danneskjold's face has the beauty of physical perfection, like a statue. Danneskjold describes the most dangerous fairy tale in human history, the story of Robin Hood, the embodiment of the idea that it is just to steal from the rich and give to the poor. At the pirate's words, Rearden feels the vigor and joy of his many triumphs return to him. Danneskjold tells him that for the last twelve years, he has been collecting Rearden's income taxes, along with those of many industrialists, in a special bank account, and that this bar is only a small part of it. When the world's greatest men have triumphed, Danneskjold wants the world to be rebuilt as quickly as possible. His efforts will ensure that when the time comes to reconstruct civilization, most of the money will be in the right hands. Because he feels within him a growing desire to laugh at the world and leave everything behind, Rearden fiercely resists Danneskjold's words. Suddenly, a patrol car pulls up beside the two. The officer in the driver's seat asks Rearden if he has seen a blond man pass this way. Rearden tells him that he has seen no one. When the officer asks about Danneskjold, Rearden identifies him as his new bodyguard. After Danneskjold leaves, Rearden picks up the bar of gold and walks on toward Philadelphia.
Kip Chalmers, a self-important man from Washington, is riding on the Taggart Comet to California. He is running for governor there, and he is late for a rally. He is furious, because the train is running behind schedule. As he complains to the other inhabitants of his private car, the train lurches to a stop. The diesel engine has run off the track near the Taggart Tunnel at Winston, Colorado. It is damaged beyond repair. The closest train is being pulled by a coal-burning engine, an engine that cannot safely go into the airless tunnel. Dave Mitchum, the Colorado Region superintendent, has no idea what to do. His foreman tells him that they must wait for the next diesel train to arrive in the morning. The delay will cost the Comet nearly twelve hours, but it is the only safe solution. Chalmers calls Mitchum, asking for answers. When Mitchum tells him that the train will not be moving till morning, Chalmers is beyond himself with rage. He calls Jim Taggart and demands action. Jim Taggart calls Clifton Locey, Taggart's new Vice-President of Operation, and angrily orders him to solve the problem. Locey does not want to take responsibility for a decision. He sends a wire to Mitchum, instructing him to find an engine and send the Comet safely through the tunnel without delay. The word "safely," combined with the words "without delay," make the order impossible to interpret. No matter what Mitchum decides, he will be blamed for the decision. He is terrified and indignant, but he tries to pass on the responsibility. He types up an order instructing the trainmaster to summon a crew at once and an order instructing the foreman to send the best engine available. The road foreman knows what Mitchum is doing, but he does not wish to endanger the well-being of his children by objecting to an order. He finds an old coal-burning locomotive and orders it to be made ready for a run to Winston. Mitchum tells his dispatcher, Bill Brent, that he is going to look for a diesel in Fairmount. If he does not return in half an hour, Brent should sign the order sending the Comet through the tunnel. Brent refuses to obey and resigns on the spot. Mitchum punches him in the face, knocking him down. After Brent leaves, Mitchum gives a young boy, the night dispatcher, the same order. The boy obeys numbly, remembering the blood on the face of Bill Brent, his idol. A drunk engineer at Winston agrees to take the Comet through the tunnel after the assigned engineer refuses to obey the order and quits. As the Comet passes through the tunnel, the fumes from its coal-burning engine collect in the cars. The last thing any of the passengers ever see is the proud flame of Wyatt's Torch.
Dagny has been living in her grandfather's cabin for a month now. Each day, she concentrates on the routine of maintaining the grounds. When she needs food, she drives to Woodstock and purchases groceries in a decaying store. The memory of Taggart Transcontinental and the agony of separation burn in her mind, though she tries to push them aside. One morning, Francisco d'Anconia drives up to her cabin. They greet each other as they did in their childhood. She is surprised to see him, for she had not told anyone but Eddie where she was staying. He walks up to her and kisses her passionately and desperately, and she knows that he is making the greatest statement of love a man can make. Suddenly, she remembers the years behind them and pushes him away. He knows that there are many things for which she must forgive him, but he does not care. He tells her that he can now tell her everything. Had he known that she was ready to quit, he would have watched her more closely, so that she might be spared the pain she has felt this month. He tells her that he quit twelve years ago, on the night he spent in her hotel room. He did not disappear as the others did, because d'Anconia Copper would not have fallen apart without him. It was an old institution with scores of clients, and it could have lasted centuries of poor management. He had to remain as its president in order to destroy it. She is furious that he could do such dishonor to something he loved so much, but he tells her that it was for the sake of his love that he did what he did. He went through hell these twelve years, but the worst of it was his knowledge that she condemned him. He has been waiting anxiously, bearing the immense weight of unimaginable pain. He begins to talk about the greedy, incompetent men who run her railroad. They fed off her energy. She held the railroad together while they controlled her. And she willingly placed herself in their power, because she so loved her work. She forged her own chains; she gave them the means to enslave her. Dagny is beginning to see the truth in his words. He rises, triumphant, to complete his speech, but Dagny's radio suddenly interrupts him. A panicked announcer reads the details of the greatest disaster in railroad history. As the Comet pushed into the heart of the mountain, the tunnel's faulty ventilation system could not handle its fumes. The engineer had thrown the throttle wide open, but the locomotive was inadequate to the task of pulling such a long train. A desperate passenger pulled the emergency stop, and the sudden jolt destroyed the engine. In the morning, when an Army Special diesel went into the tunnel, its engineer did not see the halted Comet, now a tomb. The army train crashed into the back of the Comet, and its secret cargo exploded, causing the tunnel to collapse for three miles on both sides. When Dagny hears the news, she runs out of the cabin and toward her car. Francisco tries to stop her, begging her to stay in the name of everything sacred to her, but she cannot listen.
Jim Taggart has just completed his letter of resignation. He does not yet wish to resign, but he wrote the letter "just in case." He knows that he will be blamed for the Colorado crash. All the men he had tried to frame have disappeared. He asks Eddie Willers about Dagny, but Eddie will not tell him where she is. Just as Eddie finishes his refusal, Dagny walks into the office. She immediately begins to issue orders, none of which are legal under the Directive. She knows, however, that no one will try to stop her. The Unification Board is completely dependent on her right now. She calls up Rearden. He tells her that he signed the Gift Certificate, but she tells him that she does not blame him, because she, too, has given in. They are both being held by their greatest loves.
Eddie Willers ' worker friend at Taggart Transcontinental is clearly an important figure, though he is shrouded in mystery. His words never appear in the novel; the reader can infer his end of the conversation by Eddie's responses. Notice that he is keenly interested in Dagny 's personal life, though he has never cited a cause for this interest. As previously mentioned, Ayn Rand is a strict functionalist. She would never include a character in her novel unless he was crucially necessary to its development or theme. Rand uses the worker's conversations with Eddie to divulge a few, amusing clues to his identity. The wife of William Hastings once told Dagny that for one month every year her husband disappeared to some unknown place. We are told that the worker is soon leaving for a one- month vacation, a vacation he has taken every year for the last twelve years. From this, we can deduce that Eddie's friend is among the first retired men of genius. His namelessness is yet another clue. Rand places a great deal of emphasis on her characters' names, and so we can assume that the worker's anonymity serves to hide a significant name.
As the worker's identity emerges, another mystery slowly unravels itself. The nature and role of the destroyer are growing clearer with each section. He is one man, and he was in Ken Dannager's office before Dagny. Francisco d'Anconia , by his own words, gave his life to the destroyer. Whatever the worker's identity, he is at least a close ally of the destroyer. Eddie told no one but the worker about the location of Dagny's cabin, and yet Francisco found it without effort. When Dagny asks how he found her, he evades the question.
The destroyer is real, and the force of his message is powerful enough to turn men against their greatest passion. Notice the incongruous roles taken by the novel's most prominent crusaders. Francisco d'Anconia, the magnificent producer of wealth and success, has become a creature of destruction and failure. Ragnar Danneskjold, a man of stunning, delicate physical features and a self-proclaimed enemy of violence and injustice, has become a pirate and an outlaw. They are fighting against the world in the most demanding manner possible.
Part II: Chapters 9-10
Dagny returns to her apartment. She takes a shower, letting the water wash away the filth of the office. She thinks about the man for whom she has always searched, the man she expected to find at the end of the rails and beyond the horizon. She is working for this man now, though she feels that she will never meet him. Her doorbell rings. It is Francisco d'Anconia . He has come to finish what he began at the cabin. She has slipped beyond his reach, however. She tells him that she is not serving the looters, that she is working to save the last shred of her world. She asks if there really is a destroyer loose in the world, and he tells her that there is. She asks who it is, and he responds only: "You." He tells her that there is a second Renaissance approaching, but that he will wait for her. Suddenly, Rearden enters the apartment. He sees Francisco and he is furious. He tells Dagny that he does not want her to deal with this sort of man. Such a man can only want one thing from her: to make her one of his pathetic conquests. He turns to Francisco, suddenly remembering an oath Francisco once made to him by the only woman he ever loved. He asks if Dagny is that woman. When Francisco tells him that she is, Rearden slaps him across the face. Francisco's hands fly backwards and fiercely grip the edge of a table. His fingers dig into the wood. Dagny wonders whether his fingers or the table will break first, and she knows that Rearden's life hangs in the balance. She notices that Francisco seems to be facing someone completely beyond the situation, and his eyes seem to be declaring to that person that he will accept even this, that he will endure anything. She sees the tight line of his throat and a froth of pink in the corner of his mouth, and she knows that she is witnessing Francisco d'Anconia's greatest triumph. He lets go of the table and looks at Rearden. His face holds only the exhaustion of his effort, and Rearden realizes how much this man loves him. Francisco agrees that, to the extent of his knowledge, Rearden is correct in denouncing him. He leaves the apartment. Dagny faces Rearden and tells her that Francisco was the first and only other man to whom she has ever made love. He stands before the truth, the effort of suppressed violence clear in his eyes. He approaches her and kisses her passionately, forcefully. He throws her down on the couch and makes love to her, asserting his ownership. Afterwards, while the two lie quietly on the couch, the doorbell rings. It is the assistant manager of the apartment house, and he has a letter for Dagny. The letter is from Quentin Daniels. Daniels has decided to abandon his research, because he does not wish to give the world such a gift as the static engine. Dagny leaps to her phone and calls him. Just as she thinks he has vanished, she hears his voice at the other end of the line. He tells her that he is going to remain at the Institute, but he will not work on the engine. She asks for the opportunity to see him in person and try to convince him. He agrees and gives her his word that he will remain where he is. She calls Eddie and tells him to hold tonight's Comet for her. She asks him to come to her apartment. She will explain everything while she packs. She is to see Daniels, and then she is going to Colorado to look into the accident. She asks Rearden to take his plane and meet her in Colorado in one week. He agrees.
Eddie sits at Dagny's dressing table, taking notes, as she packs and gives him directions. He tells her that the transcontinental line should be rebuilt soon. It has been rerouted around Colorado, adding two days to each trip, but at least there will not be any further service interruptions. She sees the look on his face as he describes the trouble he has had finding good men. She reassures him and tells him not to worry. Eddie notices a man's dressing gown on the back of her closet door. He sees the initials "HR" on its breast pocket and he is struck by the double realization that Dagny is sleeping with Rearden, and that he should have known it a long time ago. The revelation nearly breaks him, but he pulls himself together and Dagny does not realize what has happened. Afterwards, he goes to eat dinner at the Taggart Cafeteria. He finds his friend and joins him at a table. He tells the worker that he has always liked his face, because it looks like the face of a man who has never known pain or fear or guilt. He talks about Dagny's decision to leave for Utah to find Quentin Daniels, and tells the worker that Daniels has been trying to learn the secret of the motor Dagny found. He admits that his shock at tonight's revelation was directly due to a hidden love for Dagny. He knows that a year ago, he would not have cared so much, but now it seems like the world is falling apart. He knows he should not care that she is sleeping with Hank Rearden. When the worker hears this, he leaves abruptly, leaving Eddie in mid-sentence.
Sitting on the Comet on her way to Utah, Dagny realizes that for the first time in her life, she feels apprehension at the sight of nature. She finds herself praying that the train not stop or falter. She decides to eat in the diner and steps out of her private car. Just as she opens her door, she hears an angry voice ordering someone off the train. She discovers that a tramp has stowed away aboard her vestibule and the conductor is holding a door open, waiting for the tramp to jump out. Dagny knows that at this speed, and considering the tramp's condition, the fall will surely kill him. She notices the quiet, proud manner in which the tramp gathers his belongings for the jump. She intervenes, allowing the tramp to eat with her as her guest. Over dinner, he tells her that he is a migrant laborer, a fugitive from the new laws. He complains about the state of the country. Every factory is closing down, almost as if all the motors are stopping. He speaks this last statement carefully, with the terror of a sudden realization. He is about to ask, "Who is John Galt?" but stops himself. He tells Dagny that he thinks he and about six thousand others started the expression. He worked at the Twentieth Motor Car Company for twenty years. When the Starnes heirs took over they implemented their system of need. All workers voted for it. They were afraid of speaking out against such a noble idea. Every six months, all the workers would come together and vote on each person's needs. If the workers decided that anyone was not producing to the utmost of his ability, that man was made to work overtime, without additional wages. After time, the men of the factory began to lose their sense of decency. Each man did his best to hide his ability. The worst were the ones who knew how to manipulate the system, the ones who knew how to beg. The honest men, the ones who would never ask for alms, were forced to work grueling hours at dismal pay. The system punished those who most sincerely observed it; in two years every man in the factory lost every shred of honor. The men schemed to reduce need. They broke up marriages, discouraged procreation, even murdered dependent relatives. After a while, they dropped the system of meetings and Ivy Starnes was placed in charge of determining salaries. The one thing she demanded was obsequiousness and spinelessness. She did not tolerate independent men, and she took special pleasure in handing them the lowest salary possible. The factory's products grew steadily worse, until they lost every client. John Galt , he tells her, was the first man to quit the factory. On the day of the very first meeting, when the system was implemented, he stood before all six thousand workers and promised to "stop the motor of the world." He was a young engineer, tall and slim, and he stood with the pride of a man who knows he is right. Afterwards, when generators all over the country started to fail, the workers of the Twentieth Century Motor Company remembered the young engineer and whispered about his quest. Others took up the fear and hopelessness associated with his name.
That night, Dagny is startled awake by the sudden realization that the train has stopped. On her way to the engine, she finds Owen Kellogg looking outside inquiringly. She is relieved and happy to see him. When the two reach the front of the train, they realize that the entire crew has simply disappeared. This has happened to dozens of other trains all over the country, but never to the Comet. They set out on foot to the nearest callbox. On the way, Kellogg questions her motives for returning to work. Why, he asks, does she continue to bear the weight of an entire worthless nation? She tells him that she does not want to abandon the world to the looters. He informs her that he is on his way to a month-long vacation with friends. In the distance, they see a blazing beacon. When they reach a working callbox, Dagny calls the nearest station and, after considerable trouble and frustration, convinces the superintendent there to send a crew to the stranded Comet. When she asks about the beacon, he tells her that it is a part of an emergency landing field. She and Kellogg immediately set out for the beacon. She purchases a plane from the confused attendant there and leaves Kellogg, instructing him that if anything happens to her he should call Eddie Willers and ask him to give Jeff Allen, the tramp, a job. She takes off and heads for Utah. After several hours of flight, she lands in an airfield in Afton. She asks the attendant there to get her a car. She needs to get to the Institute of Technology to see Quentin Daniels. He points to a plane that has just departed and tells her that Daniels has just left with a strange man. With a cry of desperation, she jumps back into her plane and follows Daniels. The stranger's plane heads deep into the mountains and begins to descend over a rocky valley. Dagny does not see any safe landing area in the valley, but flies in after him. Suddenly, the plane disappears. She looks for wreckage, but sees only the twisted shapes of dangerous rocks. She continues to descend further, circling over the valley. She notices that the floor of the valley does not seem to be moving toward her, as if she were descending into a bottomless hole. Suddenly, a flash of violent, cold light envelops her plane. Through her daze, Dagny realizes that the engine has stopped. Her plane spirals into the valley, and suddenly she sees below her not rocks, but grass and hills. She is flung from side to side. As the earth rushes up to meet her, she hears herself screaming, in a burst of despair and defiance: "Oh hell! Who is John Galt?"
As long as Dagny feels that she is working in the service of man's ideal, she can never leave the railroad. Each of the men who retired faced a period of intense doubt and pain, but afterwards felt only peace. They would not react in this way if they felt, as Dagny feels, that to leave the world is to abandon its last hope. Each of these men realized that the best way to serve the beauty and ability they loved is to take it away from the looters. Dagny and Rearden are working under the mistaken, but understandable, assumption that they are setting their own terms when dealing with the world.
Their failure to adequately deal with society is eloquently demonstrated in Eddie Willers ' despair. He knows that the world does not deserve Dagny or her railroad. Though he passionately loves Taggart Transcontinental, he knows that Dagny's only hope is to leave it behind. He trusts and confides in his worker friend, because he feels that, unlike Dagny, the worker is completely immune to the ugliness around him. His face, Eddie notices, is completely free of suffering. It is the face of certainty and happiness, a face unsuitable to this earth, but somehow allowed to exist within it. Eddie's admiration for his friend is a manifestation of his profound disappointment in the world and his mournful faith in man's potential. Eddie longs for the kind of society that is the proper and final setting for men like the worker.
In this section, Jeff Allen discloses a more concrete description of John Galt . Of course, his name is not merely a coincidence. In Rand's novels and in Rand's world, there are no coincidences. He is the destroyer, the man to whom Francisco and Danneskjold gave their lives. To ask his identity, to cry out "Who is John Galt?", is to seek the nature of evil and its place on earth. John Galt was the first man to name it, and the first to rebel against its inconceivable power. He knew, twelve years ago, that the slaves of the world were its most powerful men, that men like Dannager and Wyatt held within them the motive power of civilization. John Galt wields the only invincible force in the world: reason. He does not force men to relinquish their passion. He makes them realize that to continue working is to sully and degrade their passion. Dagny is his greatest enemy, though she knows that she does not have the power to defeat him. She desperately wants to surrender to him, but the last shreds of confusion within her prevent it.
Part III: Chapters 1-2
Dagny opens her eyes and looks into the face of a man. She feels that this is the sight she has so desperately sought to see. It is a face that bears no mark of pain or fear or guilt--the face of a god. He is looking down on her, and the faint smile on his lips suggests that he, too, is seeing something he has always expected. She is relieved, exultant, as if she shares some secret, joyous knowledge with this man. Suddenly, the full reality of the situation returns to Dagny. She realizes that she is talking to a complete stranger. His name, he tells her, is John Galt . He was in the plane she followed into the valley. She has injured her ankle. He takes her in his arms and carries her away from the wreckage. He tells her that the rocky valley she saw is just an illusion, a projection of the mountains into space using heat waves and refractor rays. It has been carefully designed to keep strangers out of the valley. They come upon a small house on a ledge, and through its open window Dagny can hear Halley's Fifth Concerto. Galt tells her that the house is Halley's house, and Halley himself is playing the piece. As they pass by an open ledge, she sees a cluster of houses on the valley floor. She sees, rising over the town on a thin pillar of granite, three-foot-tall dollar sign made of solid gold. Galt tells her that Francisco d'Anconia placed it there as a joke. The valley has adopted the sign as its emblem. A group of people approaches Galt and Dagny. Hugh Akston is among them. He expresses his surprise that, despite his pessimistic predictions, she did indeed find the creator of the motor and is now resting in his arms. She gasps at the sudden connection. Galt is smiling down at her face. A short, muscular man introduces himself as Midas Mulligan. He is the owner of the valley. When she asks what Akston's role is, he informs her that he is one of Galt's two fathers, the one who did not betray him. Suddenly, she makes the final connection. Galt is Akston and Stadler 's third pupil.
Galt carries her into his home and sets her down in the guest bedroom. A doctor appears at her door, a famous surgeon who retired several years ago. He bandages her wounds expertly, quickly. After the doctor leaves, Galt cooks breakfast for Dagny. He tells her that the valley's power system is run by means of his motor. She is eager to see it, but he tells her that she cannot see the generator itself. He will take her to the station, if she wishes. He calls Midas Mulligan and asks to rent his car for the day. When Mulligan's car arrives, Quentin Daniels is in the driver's seat. He apologizes to Dagny for not waiting. He simply forgot that he had given his word, though he cannot now imagine how he could have forgotten. Galt found him in the Utah lab, working on a particularly difficult aspect of the problem. Daniels was completely stuck. Galt walked up to the board and erased everything. He wrote a single equation down, and Daniels suddenly realized the way to solve the problem. They talked physics all the way to Colorado. Galt drives her into the town. On the way, she meets several retired industrialists, all of whom have built small, rewarding businesses in the valley. They pass by a lake and a young woman waves to Galt with a hopeless but serene glance of worship. Dagny feels a stab of jealousy. Galt informs her that the woman is a writer, though right now she is the valley's best fishwife. She sees a network of oil pipes and knows that this is unlike any oil machinery she has ever seen. She is seeing oil being drawn out of shale, a process once thought impossibly expensive. Wyatt himself is overseeing its operation. One of his employees is the young brakeman Dagny met years ago, the one who had been whistling Halley's Fifth Concerto. He is Halley's best pupil now, and Wyatt's best "grease-monkey." She meets Andrew Stockton, who runs the valley's foundry. He expresses regret that Rearden has not yet entered the valley. Rearden would put him out of business, Stockton tells Dagny, and he would triple everyone's production. Ken Dannager is Stockton's foreman. Dagny sees an ethereal, profoundly beautiful woman standing behind a counter at a cafeteria. She recognizes the woman as Kay Ludlow, a once famous movie star who vanished five years ago. She thinks of the movies being made these days and realizes that a cafeteria is a far cleaner place for Ludlow. She sees a Mulligan Bank and a Mulligan Mint. Everything in the valley must be purchased in gold and silver coins minted by Midas Mulligan. Paper money is completely worthless here. At the very end of the path leading into town, she sees a small house, the humblest in the valley. Its timber walls are streaked by the punishment of rain and wind. She sees, above its door, the ancient silver coat-of-arms of Sebastian d'Anconia. Galt tells her that Francisco was the first man he took away from her.
After a few minutes, they reach the powerhouse. Over its smooth steel door, cut into the granite, Dagny sees an inscription:
I swear by my life and my love of it that I will never live for the sake of another man, nor ask another man to live for mine.
John Galt stands before the door and slowly reads the oath. Dagny looks at his face and realizes that it is the most solemn moment she has ever been allowed to witness. She knows what kind of man stood against six thousand others twelve years ago and why they are now afraid of him. At the last word, the powerhouse door unlocks and opens. It is attached to a sound lock, and the words over the door are its key. She is not allowed to enter, however. He takes her home to rest. She is expected at Mulligan's home that night.
At dinner, Dagny finds a few familiar faces, and two unfamiliar ones: Judge Narragansett, who found against Lee Hunsacker many years ago, and Richard Halley, who looks at Dagny as if they have known each other for many years. Most of the men sitting around her have continued their research and study within the valley, but they are not willing to share their discoveries with the rest of the world. When Dagny asks, frustrated, why they would hide like this Galt tells her that they are on strike. The only kind of men who have never gone on strike in human history, he tells her, are the men who bear the world on their shoulders. All other laborers have at one point or another presented demands to the world. This, he tells her, is the mind on strike. The men of the mind have been supporting human progress for millennia, without acknowledgment. They have been persecuted for their ideas, enslaved for their energy, and martyred for their strength. The world has existed on the idea that one man must exist for the sake of others. It is a vicious creed, a creed that punishes those who most carefully observe it. He began the strike to show the world just how much it needs the men so often described as evil and selfish. Each of the men describes the reasons for his retirement. Hugh Akston found that the realm of philosophy was falling into the hands of men who preached that there is no such thing as the mind. He quit because he will not sanction the destruction of thought as the product of thinking. Midas Mulligan quit when an appeals court ordered him to give money to a man whose only claim to it was his complete inability to earn it. Judge Narragansett quit over the same case, because he found that the law now commanded him to rule according to need, not justice. Richard Halley quit because, after his final triumph, he was told that his suffering was proper, that his struggle was a moral duty to his fellow men, and that his music was his payment to the world for his right to produce it. John Galt quit when he realized what had to be done to set the world on its proper course. Mulligan was the one who established the valley, first as a private retreat and later as a self-supporting refuge for his friends. When Colorado was destroyed by the looters, most of its leading minds converted their wealth to machines and gold and moved to the valley. Most of its residents call it Galt's Gulch. Anything that cannot be produce within its boundaries, Mulligan purchases through a special agent, a man who does not let Mulligan's money fall into the hands of the looters. Dagny looks at the faces of these men and knows that this is exactly the place she has always sought.
In Galt's guestroom, she notices hundreds of inscriptions on the walls. Upon closer examination, she finds that they are the signatures of the men living in the valley. Galt tells her that every one of these men spent their first night in the valley in Galt's home.
The next morning, Dagny is sitting alone in Galt's living room when a young blond man runs in through the front door. His immense physical beauty startles her. When she describes her situation, he is amused. He asks what Francisco said when he found her in the valley, but she informs him that Francisco has not yet arrived. The stranger is surprised and a little worried by the news. When Galt returns, he introduces the stranger to Dagny. His name is Ragnar Danneskjold . She is amazed that such a man leads such a violent life. She offers to cook dinner for the three of them. Danneskjold tells Galt that Rearden saved his life. Galt warns not to speak about this in front of Dagny, who still has not decided whether or not she wishes to stay in the valley. Danneskjold tells Dagny about the account waiting for her at Mulligan Bank. He did not count the money she made through Taggart Transcontinental stock, because some of it was tainted by the looters. He has collected and saved the taxes she paid on her Vice- President's salary for the last twelve years. He stands and takes his leave, announcing that he has to see his wife. He was married to Kay Ludlow in the valley a few years ago by Judge Narragansett. Galt tells Dagny that a small part of her account will be turned over to him to pay for room and board. She tells him that she does not want any part of that money used unless she is willing to remain in the valley. For the next month, she will work as Galt's cook and housemaid to earn her stay. Galt agrees.
Owen Kellogg arrives on Dagny's third day in the valley. He is surprised and elated to see her, though his distress at first holds him back. Everyone in the outside world thinks she is dead, he informs her. He called Rearden and told him about her disappearance. Rearden only paused and thanked him, but Kellogg hopes he never again has to hear that kind of pause. The next day, after breakfast, Francisco d'Anconia arrives at Galt's home. He is shocked when he sees Dagny. He drops to his knees, ecstatic. He has been looking for her for days, but she is safe now and she knows everything. He tells her he knows that she loves him and will always love him, even if she belongs to another man.
Dagny and Galt visit Francisco at his home. It is a crudely simple house, built with the skill and impatience typical of its maker. He tells Dagny about the copper mind he runs in Galt's Gulch. It provides all the copper for the valley. The profits from the mine are stored at the Mulligan Bank, and in a few months they will be the last remains of the d'Anconia fortune. It is all he will need, he tells her. Dagny marvels at Francisco's confidence and joyous youth. He stands before her as he stood more than twelve years ago, with the simple steel grace of a demigod. Looking at Galt, Dagny feels a dread growing within her. She knows that Galt loves her, and that he loves Francisco. She is afraid that he will sacrifice his own happiness for the sake of his friend's. She knows that this is the most terrible thing he could do, that it would destroy him, destroy her, and destroy Francisco.
Francisco takes Dagny and Galt down to his copper mine, d'Anconia Copper No. 1, Galt's Gulch. She is amazed by the machinery she finds there, machinery designed to compensate for the lack of manpower in the valley. She points out that he is losing huge amounts of time and money by carting the ore back on mule. She begins to describe excitedly the small railroad she would like to build. The two men watch her intently and eagerly, though she does not notice. Suddenly she realizes that for the three miles of rail she would lay down here she would have to give up thousands of miles in the outside world. Galt tells her that is she decides to stay she will have to hear about every failure and every railroad catastrophe. No one stays in the valley under any pretense or emotional shield. Dagny knows that no man in the outside world have told her this--that most men would have resorted to a kind white lie. She looks at Galt gratefully, with a sense of enormous pride for the strength and power she sees in his face. Francisco asks Dagny to stay in his house for the next week. Dagny looks at the two men anxiously. She wants to remain with Galt, but she does not know if Galt will try to hold on to her. She asks him to decide for her. Galt looks at her meaningfully and tells Francisco that he wants her to stay at his own house. Dagny is immensely relieved. Galt knows that her reaction to Francisco's question was a test, and he knows that by not descending to altruism he has passed. He reminds Dagny that no one stays in the valley under any pretense or emotional shield. She should have had more respect for him and for Francisco than to fear what she had feared. After they return from the copper mine, the group splits up. Standing in Lawrence Hammond's grocery store, Dagny hears the sound of a plane. No one is supposed to arrive in the valley after the first of the month. She runs to the airfield and finds the telescope there. When she looks at the plane, she realizes that it belongs to Hank Rearden. He circles for a while, unable to see through the refractor screen. She runs after the plane, screaming his name, though knowing that he cannot see or hear her. After some time, he ascends and leaves the valley.
Galt tells the others that he is considering returning to the world for another year. He has not yet decided, but he will let them know soon. They are shocked and a bit afraid. Galt's life is such a terribly important one, and the world is very quickly descending into violence and lawlessness. In a matter of months, all civilization will collapse. They do not want Galt in the midst of the catastrophe. When she hears their description of the world's decay, Dagny announces that she, too, is going back. She is not willing to let her railroad suffer such an ignoble fate. Galt, Francisco, and Dagny dine together that night. Francisco brings out a bottle of aged wine, a glass, and two silver goblets--goblets that once belonged to Sebastian d'Anconia and his love. Galt announces that he, too, has decided. He is going back to the world. When Francisco hears this, he pulls back. He looks as if he is contemplating the entirety of their lives. He steps forward and places the two silver goblets before Dagny and Galt and the glass at his own place. They have earned it--and not by chance, he says. Afterwards, Galt reminds Dagny that Atlantis exists, and that she can enter it as soon as she learns that she does not need to convince or conquer the world.
The next morning, Galt flies her out of Galt's Gulch. She wears a blindfold, because she cannot be allowed to know the exact location of the valley. On the way, he tells her that he will always be near her, though she will never see him. When she does want him, and everything he represents, he will be the easiest man in the world to find.
In this novel, every character or statement is merely what it seems to be. There is no underlying framework of symbols and themes. The novel is as clear as a mountain. Its theme is in its characters and the decisions they make. Its symbolism exists in its straightforward imagery. Galt's anteroom, for example, carries the signature of every man in the valley. Galt helped each of them on his first night, providing comfort and reassurance in a time of need. Galt in this novel is the ideal, the height of man, the validation of justice and the affirmation of hope. The men turned to him because they had to, because in order to enter the valley they had to resign the world in his name, and consequently in the name of the best within them. Galt was not a crutch, but an inspiration. They turned to him because he was the embodiment--not the source--of their ideals. Occasionally, even the men of the mind forget the distinction. When Galt declares that he is returning to the world for another year, Mulligan is suddenly flooded by a sense of panic. He knows, however, that the valley and the people it harbors are completely self-sufficient, because this is the most important qualification for entrance.
Perhaps the one character who is far more than she seems, the one exception to the above declaration, is the young writer Dagny sees from Galt's car. She has "dark, disheveled hair" and large eyes. She believes that when one deals with words, one deals with the mind. Clearly, Ayn Rand has placed herself in Atlas Shrugged. The writer in Galt's Gulch is profoundly--and hopelessly--in love with Galt. She knows that she can never have him, but she offers him her love nonetheless as tribute.
Part III: Chapters 3-4
Dr. Stadler has been flown across the country, mostly against his will, to attend some kind of event. He was not told the specifics of the event or the reason that his presence was needed there. He is taken to a recently built showground in Iowa. The grandstands fill with the nation's "elite"--hundreds of shifty-eyed, cowardly intellectuals and bureaucrats--and dozens of member of the press. Below the audience, Stadler can see an awkward contraption resembling a portable switchboard. A few hundred feet away, he spots a squat, domed building. Projecting from the base of the dome are several funnel-shaped outlets. Stadler feels a sense of panic overtaking him. He knows that something terrible is about to happen. He wants to tell the audience that he had nothing to do with this project, nothing to do with this show being staged. Several reporters find him and ask him about Project X. Stadler is stunned by their question, but manages to say that anything supported by State Science Institute must be for the betterment of mankind. Everyone in the audience is given a pair of field glasses. Dr. Ferris stands before a podium and speaks about sound rays and their uses. Project X, he tells them, could not have been possible without the funding granted by Mr. Thompson, Head of the State, and so the machine sitting before them will henceforth be known as the Thompson Harmonizer. The demonstration begins. A young, effeminate scientist pulls several levers. Through his glasses, Stadler sees a farmhouse in the distance and several goats chained to the earth. Instantly, the goats, the farmhouse, and every object in view are torn to pieces by some immense, invisible force, like something out of a child's most terrifying nightmare. The crowd is stunned and horrified, but unable to react. Everyone seems to be waiting for some revelation, some sign to help him judge or accept. Wesley Mouch steps to the podium and declares that the Thompson Harmonizer is a wonderful instrument of peace. In a time such as this, the nation cannot afford to worry about enemies, internal or external. The Harmonizer will ensure peace and security. Several of the country's leading minds follow Mouch, each expressing his unwavering and reverent enthusiasm for this invention. Ferris hands Stadler a speech to read. He reminds Stadler that if public opinion were to turn against the Institute a time of social crisis, its most important scientists would surely be thrown out on the streets. If the State were to declare that Robert Stadler was a traitor and an enemy of the people, who would stand to defend him? Reason and logic no longer have power over human beings. Stadler steps up to the podium, knowing that he is about to destroy himself. A young reporter, with intelligent, unfrightened eyes, begs him to expose the fraud of the Harmonizer, to tell the country the truth. Stadler loudly tells him to keep quiet. Eyes focused on the microphone and the paper before him, he reads, word for word, the prepared statement.
Before taking off for New York, Dagny finds a young reporter and tells him to send word home that she is alive. When she arrives in New York, she calls Rearden 's office. Gwen Ives informs her that Rearden is in Colorado looking for her, but that he should return to his hotel in Los Gatos soon. Dagny calls the hotel and reaches Rearden. He is startled and Profoundly relieved. She tells him that her plane crashed in the Rockies and she stayed with some people for the last month. She can tell him nothing more. He tells her he will return to New York as soon as possible. When Dagny finds Eddie , he is speaking with Cuffy Meigs, the new Director of Unification. He looks at her like a man glimpsing a vision. Dagny does not understand Meigs' position. Eddie explains that Washington issued the Railroad Unification Plan three weeks ago. Meigs is essentially in charge of all Taggart traffic, and their trains are being used as favors for influential friends. In her office, a few minutes later, Jim Taggart explains the rest of the Plan. Under this new directive, all railroads in the country have been united into a single team. All of their revenue is turned over to the Railroad Pool Board, which distributes the money to each of the railroads according to the mileage of track that it owns and maintains. For their transcontinental traffic, Taggart is using a section of the Atlantic Southern track without charge. Taggart has the largest mileage of any railroad in the country, and therefore is in line for the largest cut of the profits. Dagny points out that two-thirds of their transcontinental line is now being maintained by a competitor, while Taggart is being paid for owning miles of useless track that carries no traffic. Eddie informs her that every railroad in the country is starting to cut back on trains. The winner, he says, will be the railroad that manages to run no trains at all. The president of the Atlantic Southern railroad has committed suicide. She accepts the horror quietly, without objection. She knows that reason can do nothing in this situation. Jim tells her that she is to be a guest on Bertram Scudder's radio show tonight. She must tell the nation that she has not retired, because in times like these the people need reassurance. She refuses and kicks him out of her office. Two hours later, Dagny's secretary informs her that Lillian Rearden is requesting an interview immediately. Dagny is stunned, unable to imagine what purpose could bring Lillian here. Lillian tells Dagny that her radio broadcast will be the social equivalent of Rearden's decision to sign the Gift Certificate. Washington is constantly using his concession as propaganda, and now they need something more. Rearden never told Dagny his reasons for signing the Certificate, but Lillian now tells her the full truth. To avoid scandal, Dagny, too, must give in to the demands of the State.
At Bertram Scudder's studio, Dagny finds that her microphone is made of Rearden Metal. Scudder introduces her as a businesswoman of immense skill and integrity. She speaks into the microphone, calmly and naturally. She declares that she is, indeed, going to stand by Hank Rearden. It has been said by the government that Rearden offered his voluntary endorsement of their policy by signing over his metal in the name of public good. She asks the nation to judge his opinion by the motive for his actions. She describes his motive in detail. For two years, she declares, she and Rearden were lovers. She was his mistress; she felt a profound physical desire for him; she experienced in his arms the most violent form of sensual pleasure imaginable. She is proud that he chose her to be his lover. She did not know until today that Rearden signed the Gift Certificate because if had refused, the government would have exposed his relationship with Dagny. He signed the Certificate, she declares, because he was blackmailed by government officials. Before she can finish her speech, Scudder knocks the microphone over. Panic erupts in the booth. Dagny stands up and leaves the station. She returns to her apartment and finds Rearden waiting for her. She wants to confess something to him, but he stops her. He tells her that he loves her, that he has always loved her. He tells her that he knows now that true human desire is a statement of the mind and of the soul. He knows that their relationship was the most important, and the most sacred event in his life. For the first time in his life, he is completely free and happy. He is saying this, he tells her, because he knows that she has found the man she truly loves. He has always known that he was not her final choice, and now he sees that she has discovered her ideal, and that this man is the only man she's ever really loved. Dagny is stunned. She asks how he could possibly know this. He points to the radio and reminds her that in her speech she used nothing but the past tense. She tells him that she will always love him, though it is true that she now belongs to another. She tells him that her love's name is John Galt . He is astonished. She tells him that Galt is the man who invented the motor. He asks tentatively if she was following Daniels when she crashed, and if the industrialists are all alive in Colorado. She smiles and tells him that the place does, indeed, exist. For now, she and Rearden must fight for their version of the world, because they are its last remnants.
Jim Taggart has just returned home from an entire day of private gatherings in honor of various Argentinian officials. Argentina has just been declared a People's State. D'Anconia Copper will be nationalized in less than a month. He thinks he should be happy, but the day has brought him only misery. He now stands to make a fortune, but the money means nothing to him. He feels that he is slipping down some dark alley. He tells his wife Cherryl that he closed a huge deal today, hoping to see the admiration and curiosity she had offered him in their first months. She only looks at him attentively and asks what sort of deal it was. He tells her that he will make a fortune, that he will soon be one of the richest men in the world. When he tells her that on September 2, Chile will nationalize D'Anconia Copper, she is oddly stern. She tells him that what Dagny did on the radio was a great thing, and she wants to know why the government has never attempted to answer her broadcast. He resents her question and talks about his recent victory over the Tinky Holloway faction. Cherryl grows frightened. She asks if these are the sorts of victories he has been winning for all these years. He answers that none of it is his fault, that he did not make the world. He is shocked to see her face twist into an incredible smile of bitter contempt. She tells him that those are the words her father used to damn the world for his inability to find employment. She and Jim have been married for a year now, and she is slowly beginning to learn just what kind of man he is. At first she was bewildered and anxious to learn the strange world of politics to which he belonged. Whenever she tried to point out that one of his friends was a fraud, he would only tell her that she did not understand, that in time she would learn. He came home every once in a while elated and terrified, because he had helped in the creation of another cruel piece of legislation. Whenever she tried to ask him why the legislation was needed, or why he so fiercely hated the industrialists, he would tell her that in time she would learn. After a few months, she did learn, and the truth is now beginning to overwhelm her. She suspects some terrible evil in Jim. He is a sham, but not for the sake of money or admiration. He is playing some terrible game, but gaining nothing at all from it, as if the game itself were the means and the end. One day she invites Eddie Willers to lunch to discover the nature of her husband's position in the railroad. He explains everything to her, explains that Dagny is the heart and motive power of Taggart Transcontinental. When Jim comes home that night, she confronts him about their first meeting. She wants to know why he lied to her then. He responds angrily, with a torrent of verbal abuse. When she asks why he married her, he tells her that it was because he loved her. She knows, however, that the word has no meaning for him. She realizes that what he needs and wants from her is unearned love, undeserved admiration. She stares at him in complete terror. She walks back to her room, dresses, and leaves the house.
After a month in New York, Dagny sits in her office in Taggart Transcontinental and wonders where Galt has established his observation post. Her doorbell rings. When she opens the door, it takes her a few moments to realize that she is looking at Cherryl Taggart. They have not really seen each other over the past year. Cherryl asks Dagny to listen to what she has to say, though she knows that Dagny owes her nothing at all. Dagny agrees. At her wedding, Cherryl had attacked Dagny because she thought that she was defending greatness against evil. She thought that her husband was the light of Taggart Transcontinental and Dagny only a bitter leech. She now knows that Dagny was the creator of the John Galt Line, that Dagny had the courage to defy the nation, that Dagny represents the greatness for which she mistakenly looked in Jim. Dagny accepts her apology and offers to help Cherryl. She is not offering alms; she is offering aid to one who did not deserve to suffer. She talks about the evil of giving the undeserved, about the importance of justice. Cherryl is astounded. Jim has always told her that these principles were old- fashioned and small, though Cherryl never felt she was either of these things. She feels validated and inspired. She is hesitant, however. She is afraid to acknowledge that there can be so much evil in the world. Dagny tells her that there is no need to be afraid as long as she resolves to trust her own judgment in every situation. Cherryl stands, tentatively reassured, and moves to leave. Something instant and irresistible prompts Dagny to ask her to stay, but Cherryl promises to return.
Jim Taggart is sitting in his apartment, cursing the universe and his wife for refusing to grant him the celebration he desires. Lillian Rearden knocks on his door and enters. She looks frightened and slightly unkempt. She begs him to try and use his influence in Washington to prevent her divorce. Rearden's attorney has bribed the judge, the clerks, the bailiffs, their backers, their backers' backers, a few legislators, and several administrators. She has spent some of her own money to hire and lawyer, but her lawyer can only tell her that he is powerless. Rearden intends to cut her off without settlement or alimony, and she cannot stand the thought of the poverty that would ensue for her. Jim would like to help her because he hates Rearden so passionately, but the only kinds of favors being traded in Washington these days are life and death favors, and no one cares enough to save Lillian's marriage. She is devastated because she knows that she has failed. They sit, careless in their mutual contempt and understanding, and discuss Rearden. He tells her that he wishes he could hear Rearden scream in pain just once. He reaches forward to wipe some spilled liquor from her chest and his hand closes over her breast. He takes her to his bedroom, fully conscious of the sickness and the malice with which they are performing this mockery of love. Her body is limp and unresponsive in his arms, but he does not care. "Mrs. Rearden," he says.
When Cherryl comes home, she notices a woman's purse on the floor of Jim's study. She hears the muffled sounds of a conversation coming from Jim's bedroom. She rushes to her bedroom and locks herself in, panicked by a sense of pity and embarrassment. Her knees fold and she falls to the ground. She feels no anger or jealousy, only a profound horror. After some time, she hears the sound of the front door closing. She finds Jim and tells him that she knows about his infidelity. He screams at her, asking what she wants to do about it. Again, she asks why he married her. He tells her viciously that he married her because she was worthless, because he wanted her to accept his love as alms. She realizes that he is lying to her and to himself. She points out that he married her because she was struggling to rise above the gutter, because she was not willing to accept the mantle of worthlessness. He admits that this is true. Cherryl screams in pure physical terror at the sudden glimpse of a man who kills for the sake of killing. He strikes her across the face and she runs out of the apartment and into the streets. She struggles with a sudden feeling of helplessness and futility. A powerful voice tells her to leave the world behind, to close her eyes forever from its horrors. She runs to the coast, where a social worker spots her in an alley among wharfs and warehouses. The worker, a woman with a gray face and dead eyes, notices her expensive suit and bruised face and scolds her for coming to such disgrace. She tells Cherryl that if she stopped living for her own enjoyment, she would not be wandering like a tramp through the night. Cherryl runs violently toward the river, like a creature fleeing for its life, and leaps into the darkness.
Dagny 's love for John Galt was inevitable. The novel is riddled with consistent, powerful foreshadowing. She first saw him in her youth, when she imagined a man whose consciousness was the pure spirit of her railroad, the embodiment of the force that created it. She felt the same desire, in more focused form, when she discovered the motor. Its creator represented to her the creative power and integrity disappearing from the earth. When she met Galt, she found that he was these things and more. In their first instants of personal communication, she knew she had always been waiting for this man. She remembered, however, that before he had a face John Galt was the spirit of Taggart Transcontinental. She feels that to abandon her railroad would be to betray this man and everything he represents. She knows also that returning to the world means taking up arms against him. Her battle, then, will be her tribute to him. If she cannot give herself completely, she cannot give herself at all.
In many ways, Jim Taggart is the complete antithesis of John Galt. Where Galt understands and immediately accepts the purpose of his every action, Taggart desperately avoids responsibility for any and all decisions. Where Galt looks into himself with the same unblinking courage with which he perceives the world, Taggart is terrified of his own nature and refuses to closely examine it for fear of what he might find. Where Galt seeks only to create and live, Taggart tries to destroy the joy of creation and life in others. This last characteristic sets Taggart apart from most of the other villains in the novel. The other villains seek unjustifiable power, unearned wealth, and undeserved prestige, but they do so out of a petty, helpless vanity. In truth, Jim Taggart wants nothing for himself. The horror of his life, and the thing that drives Cherryl to her death, is that he desires to destroy for the sake of destruction. He cannot match or admire the achievements of his superiors, and so he tries to destroy them. Jim carries within him the essence of pure evil, though he does not have the courage to distinguish it. Galt carries the essence of pure life, and cannot help but understand it.
Part III: Chapters 5-6
On the morning of September 2, a copper wire breaks between two telephone poles by the track of the Pacific branch of Taggart Transcontinental. At the Division Headquarters for the Pacific branch, there is no copper left. The entire stock was sold and carried away in the middle of the night by men who were not businessmen, but who had connections in Sacramento and Washington. Dagny orders the Montana Line to ship half of its stock of copper to California. Under the Unification Plan, crucial materials are diverted from the best companies and delivered to businessmen with Washington influence. The last of the nation's competent industrial concerns are beginning to vanish. Every decision is made by Cuffy Meigs, head of the Board. He is rapidly becoming the most powerful man in the nation, a man whose whim can destroy or save any business. Jim spends a great deal of time in Dagny's office, seeking reassurance or purpose. She gives him nothing. On the afternoon of September 2, he turns on the radio in Dagny's office and asks her to listen to a broadcast. An announcer's panicked voice fills the room. Jim is surprised; this is not what he had expected. The announcer reveals that on that morning, the Legislature of Chile was preparing to nationalize Chilean properties of D'Anconia Copper, thus opening the way for the People's State of Argentina to nationalize d'Anconia property all over the world. In the exact moment when the chairman's gavel struck the opening of the session, an immense blast shook the hall. In the distance, the legislators could see the flaming wreckage of the ore docks of D'Anconia Copper. In that same instant, every d'Anconia property in the world was blown up and swept away. The most efficient, most competent of the d'Anconia employees, the men upon whom the People's State of Chile was counting to run the nationalized company, have all disappeared without a trace. No one knows where Francisco d'Anconia is at the moment. Dagny whispers a silent prayer of gratitude to Francisco. She feels young and strong. She notices that Jim is desperately talking into a phone to one of his associates. He has placed a great deal of his personal fortune into the company that was to run the new nationalized copper concern. All of it is now gone. The rest of the day, Dagny notices a look of solemnity and desperation in every face she encounters. The people of New York understand exactly what has just happened, and there is a touch of laughter in the air, the laughter of dying victims who know they have been avenged.
Dagny sees the same look of triumph in Rearden 's eyes when she meets him for dinner that evening. He informs her that Rearden Steel is now working at full capacity. Washington has lifted all of his production quotas for a while, though he does not know how long the reprieve will last. He went to Minnesota last week, and he saw that the farmers there are desperate for tools and transportation. Most of the nation's farming states are in ruins. Minnesota, he tells her, is the nation's last source of food. The farmers he met have somehow managed to plant one of the largest wheat crops in memory, but they will need materials to harvest it. Rearden has been selling as much Metal as he could divert from his mills to a harvester company in Minnesota, all on credit. He is giving them loans, not alms. Suddenly, the entire room notices a change outside. The folding flaps of an immense automatic calendar hanging on a building high above the city are turning. Written across the enormous page, in lines of a quick, intransigent handwriting:
Brother, you asked for it!
Francisco Domingo Carlos Andres Sebastian d'Anconia
Rearden leaps to his feet and laughs openly, triumphantly, surrendering to the only man he has ever loved.
Phillip walks into Rearden's office and asks for a job. He tells Rearden that he is tired of taking alms. Rearden points out that he would be completely useless at the mills. Phillip declares that Rearden should give him the job out of brotherly loyalty. Rearden asks about the sudden, misguided ambition. Phillip evades the question and Rearden asks him to leave. Later that day, Rearden attended the court proceedings officially granting him a divorce. Lillian was not present, though her lawyer made several meaningless gestures. Watching Phillip, watching the men of "law" in the courtroom, Rearden clearly sees the weakness of the enemies he has been fighting all these years. When he returns to his mills, the Wet Nurse comes to see him. He wants Rearden to give him a real job, anything available. He wants to do something productive. Rearden is surprised by the boy's candor and determination. He tells the boy that he cannot give him a job, because the boy's Washington buddies would prevent it. The Wet Nurse understands. He also knows that if he were to leave his current position, he would be replaced by a Washington lackey who would not turn a blind eye to Rearden's side deals.
Dagny's telephone rings constantly with pleas for copper supplies. She diverts stock from all over the country to areas of worst need, but there is not enough to go around. The government declares that, due to the terrible emergency, all copper mines in the country are being nationalized. Dagny receives a call from a young man in her Minnesota Division. He tells her that an immense disaster is about to break over the nation. The farmers of Minnesota will be unable to ship their grain because they have not receives the freight cars Taggart promised. Out of fifteen thousand needed, only about eight thousand have actually arrived. When Dagny investigates into the problem, she finds that the worker is right. After exhaustive, frustrating questioning, she finds that the cars were diverted from Minnesota by Cuffy Meigs. Dagny drives all over New York and calls hundreds of stations in the Minnesota area, ordering every available car to service the farmers. She discovers that the cars were sent to a Louisiana soybean project. In Minnesota, farmers are setting fire to their own farms and demolishing their grain elevators. The wheat harvest rots in the street and every farming concern in the state goes bankrupt. Officials soon discover that the soybeans were reaped prematurely and are unfit for consumption.
On the night of October 15, a copper wire breaks in New York City, in an underground control tower of the Taggart Terminal. The break causes a short circuit in the traffic system, and every signal in the city freezes. A string of trains gathers at the edge of the city, waiting to be allowed entrance. Upon reaching the terminal, Dagny finds that the men there are unwilling to take action. They evade her questions. She calls the operating vice-president of the Atlantic Southern and asks him to send his signal engineer. She will pay anything he asks. She finds the tower director of the terminal gives him a few directions. He understands exactly what she is asking him to do and sets to work. She tells him not to think right now about the implications of her orders. She calls together all the unskilled laborers in the underground system and tells them that the tower director is working on a system for relaying signals by hand, as they were relayed a hundred years ago. She feels a burning humiliation at the thought of trains being directed by human lampposts. Suddenly, she sees the golden hair and brilliant eyes of John Galt in the crowd of laborers. She stares at him in a sudden moment of clarity and hope. After her speech to the workers, she turns and hurries into the tunnels, knowing that he will follow her. After some time, she hears him approaching. He takes her into his arms and kisses her violently, leaving bruises along the line of her neck. He tears off her evening dress and they make love in the heart of the tunnel. Afterwards, he tells her that he has been watching her for ten years from these very tunnels, from the circulatory system of her beloved railroad. When he realized that she was seeing Hank Rearden, he stood outside an industrialists' conference in New York, waiting for a glimpse. When he saw Rearden, he suddenly saw a different world. He saw the world as it should be, populated by men of boundless energy and unenslaved thought. For an instant, he envied Rearden, but only for an instant. He realized the price Rearden was paying for his work and the bewildered torture he was enduring. He tells Dagny that he loves her more than he loves life itself, and that he is willing to accept the consequences of the intimacy they have just shared. The men who would seek to destroy him may soon find him, through Dagny, but he is willing to pay the price.
On October 20, the steel workers' union of Rearden Steel demands a raise in wages. Rearden can only establish that the demand came from a group of new workers, workers placed in his mills by the Unification Board. On October 23, the Unification Board rejects the union's petition, citing no specific reason. On October 25, the newspapers of the country report the demand and the refusal, denouncing Rearden for his unjust treatment of his workers. The papers do not mention who actually has the power to reject or accept union demands. On the morning of October 31, Rearden receives a notice informing him that all his property, including his bank accounts, have been attached to satisfy a delinquent judgment concerning a deficiency in his income tax of three years ago. He knows that there was no such deficiency. The next day, he receives a phone call from a bureaucrat apologizing profusely for what was only a mistake. He tells Rearden that it will take just a few days to clear away the attachment and return his property to him. The next afternoon, he receives a phone call from someone named Tinky Holloway asking him to attend a small, informal meeting at the Wayne-Falkland Hotel to straighten everything out. Rearden agrees to attend, curious. Holloway tells him to be at the hotel at 7 p.m. on November 4. After he hangs up the phone, Holloway turns to Claude Slagenhop, president of Friends of Global Progress, and tells him that Rearden seems more intractable than ever. This is precisely what Phillip Rearden told him, but now he knows for sure. At Holloway's request, Phillip had asked Rearden for a job, but Rearden had refused him.
On the morning of November 4, the sound of a persistent telephone call awakens Rearden out of deep sleep. It is his mother, asking to meet him that afternoon. He agrees, a bit confused. He drives to his house, which he has not seen in months. His mother wants to talk about her allowance check, which was due on the first of the month. Because of the attachment, the check did not arrive. She wants him to do something about it. He informs her that there is nothing he can do; he has no money to give her. She is terrified by his unexpected stolidity. He has never stood against her like this before. Phillip and Lillian join the plea. They tell him that they are throwing themselves at his mercy. Their efforts are fruitless. The same sense of justice that once held him to them is now working against them. His mother tells him that if he abandons them, if he vanishes like the other industrialists, they are lost. He suddenly realizes that this is their greatest fear, that he will realize his independence and leave them without alms. He thinks about Francisco and the look on his face as he accepted Rearden's insults. He wants to ask Francisco for forgiveness, because he now knows that he was wrong. Phillip begs him not to leave, and points out that he cannot leave without money. At this, Rearden realizes the purpose of the attachment order. The men in Washington were trying to force him to stay. Lillian screams at him furiously, and he suddenly realizes why she married him. She had wanted to break him, to drain his energy and power. She had chosen him for his best qualities--his strength, intelligence, and ambition--but her goal from the very beginning had been destruction. She tells him bitterly that she has been unfaithful, that she slept with Jim Taggart . He looks at her coldly, as he would look at a perfect stranger confessing the same secret.
That evening, Hank Rearden goes to the suite that once belonged to Francisco d'Anconia to meet the representatives from Washington. Jim Taggart, Dr. Floyd Ferris, Wesley Mouch , Tinky Holloway, and Gene Lawson are among those present. He tells them to get to the point. He knows that they have prepared some knew horrible piece of legislation to further cripple the steel industry. He wants them to drop the pretense and give him the details. The new Steel Unification Plan will work much as the Railroad Unification Plan does. At the end of each year, all steel companies in the country will deposit their gross earnings in the Steel Unification Pool. The money will then be distributed according to need, which will be determined by the number of open-hearth furnaces each company owns and maintains. Rearden points out that Orren Boyle owns three times as many furnaces as he does and produces four-fifths as much as he does. He tells them that under these conditions, his mills would go under. They are taking away his ability to produce and asking him to produce anyway. They are chaining his wrists and asking him to work twice as hard. Jim Taggart cries shrilly that Rearden will find a way to make it happen. Rearden suddenly grasps the nature of their game, and the entire puzzle of his life falls before him, solved. He sees the progression of years behind him, years of extortion and impossible demands. Their entire system was based on the knowledge that he would always continue working, at any cost, because he loved his work and he was good at it. He had willingly participated in his own slow torture. He stands up and leaves the suite. They call after him, begging him to stay just a little longer.
Rearden drives to his mills. A mile from the front gate, he hears the sound of a gunshot, followed by three other gunshots in quick succession. He sees a mass of men standing at the gate, trying to enter the mill by force. He turns his car sharply and heads for a side gate. As he turns into a tight curve, he sees the unmistakable shape of a human body and steps heavily on the brake. He finds the Wet Nurse, bleeding profusely from a wound in his side. He warns Rearden that the scumbags in Washington are trying to seize his mills. They organized this mob to frighten the nation and create an excuse for the Steel Unification Plan. The Wet Nurse was trying to stop it. He was only told of the attack minutes before it started. He was called to a special conference with a man from Washington and asked to sign dozens of passes for the goons, to get them inside. He refused and told the Washington man to go to hell. He ran out of the office and to his car, but he was shot and dumped into a pit, a hundred feet below. Rearden looks down and sees the trail of blood and trampled grass indicating his rise and shudders at the thought of the agony this kid has gone through in the last few hours. He speaks the kid's real name—Tony--and asks him to fight to stay alive. He leans forward and kisses Tony on the forehead, an intense, fatherly gesture. He picks up his body and carries it to his car. On the way to the side gate, Tony dies quietly. When Rearden reaches the gate, he takes the boy's body inside and leaves him in the hospital building, amidst a large group of injured, bloody men. He walks out again toward the front gate. He notices that the spirit of the siege is ebbing, as if its spine has been broken. On the roof of a structure above the gate, he notices a slim man holding two guns and firing occasionally into the crowd with swift, expert motions. Suddenly, two large men attack Rearden from the side. Before he has time to turn away, he is clubbed in the head. He falls to the ground in a daze. The last thing he remembers is the clutch of a protective arm around him and the sound of two gunshots right above his ear.
When Rearden wakes up, he is being examined by a doctor. The doctor suggests that he rest for a while, to which Rearden firmly answers that he will. His superintendent enters and tells him that the battle is over and the mills are safe. Everything might have been lost except for the skill of a single man, a new furnace foreman named Frank Adams, who armed Rearden's men and led the defense. He was the man standing on the roof of the gate, and he was the man who saved Rearden from the thugs. Rearden asks that the man be sent in. In a few minutes, Francisco d'Anconia appears at his door. Rearden is surprised to see him, but quickly understands. Francisco tells him that he has been working at Rearden Steel for the last two months. Rearden asks Francisco for forgiveness, and Francisco readily grants it. Rearden tells him that he is now ready to hear the end of the speech Francisco began all those months ago.
When John Galt mockingly offers to repair the signal system, Dagny instantly and sharply refuses. She tells him that she does not want to see him laboring to feed the looters' system. She knows that she is working under the same yoke, but she thinks that there is some important break approaching and she will soon triumph. Unfortunately, Dagny is underestimating the blind, greedy stubbornness of the men currently in power. These men, who claim to love mankind and abhor human suffering, are willing to let the nation starve to preserve their status and influence. They have no right to their wealth and no claim to their power, but this is precisely the reason that they so fiercely hold on. Clearly, there is a break approaching. Every day, the nation is struck by another crisis, and each is worse than the last. The entire world is failing, but the men of the Unification Board and the myriad wicked Plans are not yet willing to relinquish their positions. They know that in Dagny's world, in Rearden 's world, they would have no chance whatsoever at privilege.
Tony is the only man in this novel who redeems himself from the depths of foulness. When he first arrived at Rearden's mills, he was full of bitter slogans and catch-phrases from his college years. He was cynical and cowardly, because for years he had been taught that this was the only way for a man to live. He represents the men who comprise the vast majority of the world, men who struggle and drown under the liquid weight of a ruthless indoctrination. Free of outside influence, with only the daily truths of a steel mill to guide him, Tony realizes that integrity requires the ability to perceive only absolutes and that joy requires the courage to accept and control them.
His death marks and seals the triumph of Rearden's long struggle for liberation. The rapid-fire succession of discoveries in this section is no accident. Rearden has been close to these revelations for months now, though something in him was holding him back. The first and crucial break was the Gift Certificate. Because of his own philosophical mistake, he was forced to decide between the woman he loved and the ownership of the Metal he had so fiercely worked to discover. After this, he was free to discover the full depth of his mistake. The meetings with his family and the Washington men reinforced and clarified his perception of the world. He was able to see, with absolute clarity, the absurd weakness of their hold over him. Tony's heroism and tragic death allowed Rearden to understand that, despite its flawed pettiness, the looters' system destroys millions of decent souls each day. With this final piece of knowledge, Rearden ascends to the role of crusader and he chooses to fight with the only weapon available to him: resignation.
Part III: Chapters 7-8
Jim Taggart goes to Dagny 's apartment, panicked, and tells her that Hank Rearden has vanished. She bursts out laughing. He begs her to get Rearden back, but there is nothing she can do. A week later, she receives a letter, consisting of just two sentences: "I have met him. I don't blame you." Though the newspapers are silent, dozens of violent acts erupt all over the nation. The only acknowledgment is a series of announcements, for an entire a week in advance, of a speech by Mr. Thompson on the world crisis. Huge public loudspeakers are built in the squares of New York in preparation. On the day of the speech, Jim informs Dagny that Mr. Thompson wishes to see her shortly before his broadcast. She hesitantly agrees to see him. At the studio, she finds that there is no conference, that she was asked to come so that she might be photographed with the Washington men. She refuses to cooperate, but before anyone can raise a protest, the chief engineer of the station rushes into the room, his face a mask of controlled terror. He informs Mr. Thompson that there is something wrong with the broadcasting equipment. Every station in the country went off the air a few minutes ago. There is some kind of immensely powerful radio signal, a signal like none ever seen, jamming any and all other broadcasts. At precisely 8 p.m., the voice of John Galt floods the room.
Galt delivers a long, detailed speech about the state of the nation, its causes, and the only possible solution. He identifies himself as John Galt, the first man to defy the hypocrisy of a looters' world. He describes the nature of the men currently in charge, men who live as parasites. Their emblem is the non-absolute, the irrational. For centuries upon centuries, they have sacrificed and drained countless great men, and their only weapon was the innocence and integrity of their victims. Such crimes, he declares, can never happen again. The men of the mind, the men whose souls are the motive power of the world, finally understand their importance. Galt has found them and liberated them, and the result is the crisis now swallowing the earth. He describes the principles under which every man must live: reason, purpose, and self-esteem. These principles, he declares, imply and require all of man's virtues: rationality, independence, integrity, honesty, justice, productiveness, and pride. He calls for a general strike, asking that anyone with any shred of reason left abandon the world to the looters. The only proper function of a government is to protect the rights of its citizens. When a government oversteps this boundary, when a government initiates violence against its own people, it has become nothing more than a sanctioned criminal assembly. To continue living under such circumstances is to validate the principles that uphold that government. For any heroes still trapped by their own integrity, he declares that the only path to victory is renunciation. They will win when they are ready to pronounce the oath that he pronounced when he first began his battle: "I swear--by my life and my love of it--that I will never live for the sake of another man, nor ask another man to live for mine."
After the speech, Mr. Thompson and the other Washington men are terrified. They try to convince themselves that no one will listen to Galt, that his ideas are too anti-social to be widely accepted. They are desperate for anyone to tell them what to do. Dr. Stadler suggests coldly that they should kill him. They should follow Dagny's moves closely, because she surely knows where he is. Mr. Thompson angrily rejects Stadler's first suggestion, but he agrees to have Dagny followed. He thinks that Galt is a man of action, precisely what the nation needs, and he can get the retired industrialists back. They should try to negotiate with him.
After the broadcast, Eddie and Dagny walk together to Taggart Transcontinental. He tells her that he knows John Galt, that for years he has talked to him at the Taggart cafeteria. He wonders if he was helping to save or to destroy the railroad. Dagny asks him to keep his knowledge of Galt's employment secret, because the government is desperate to find him. For twelve years, Galt's name has appeared simply, openly in the Taggart personnel record. She tells Eddie that she will not quit, because the end is so close now. When the nation collapses, she wants to make sure her railroad does not collapse with it.
Chick Morrison and his Morale Conditioning forces find that the broadcast has left people silent. The entire nation is pulsing with a mostly muted new kind of energy. Occasionally, abruptly, the energy erupts in a small pocket of violence against the government and its "humanitarian" policies and officials. All over the country, the last businessmen and skilled laborers are disappearing, leaving entire towns to ruin. A steady flow of government broadcasts, calling for John Galt, fills the airwaves. Rearden Steel has been shut down, after a series of incompetent government officials attempted to run it in Rearden's place. Mr. Thompson asks Dagny if she knows where to find Galt. The situation is now desperate. He can no longer control Cuffy Meigs and Dr. Ferris, and if they were to find Galt first, they might kill him. She is overwhelmed by a sudden sense of terror, but manages to tell Thompson that she does not know where Galt is.
After her conversation with Mr. Thompson, Dagny goes to Galt's apartment building. She is nervous, terrified that he might already be dead. When she reaches his apartment, she sees him standing casually in the doorway. She runs into his arms, enormously relieved. He tells her that they have about half an hour of freedom together. She was followed by government agents, and in a short time they will storm into this apartment. At first she rejects the possibility, but soon she realizes that he is right. He tells her that if she values his life she must pretend to be against him. If they realize the nature of Galt and Dagny's relationship, they will use her to torture him. He tells her that if he hears his captors utter a single threat to her safety, he will kill himself. Otherwise, he would have to give in, and he cannot allow himself to do that. When several agents appear a few minutes later, she pretends that she had sought and discovered Galt because he is the enemy of her railroad.
Galt is held in the royal suit on the sixtieth floor of the Wayne-Falkland Hotel. The entire building is closely guarded by hundreds of uniformed and plainclothes guards. Galt informs Mr. Thompson that, because he is a prisoner under the threat of death, he will agree to do anything asked of him, to the letter. He will do whatever Thompson tells him to do, but he will not initiate any actions of his own. He will not think for the government. Several men make unsuccessful attempts to convince him. Some appeal to his pity, some to his greed, others to his fear. Galt is unbreakable. Thompson offers to make him Economic Dictator of the nation, at which point Galt bursts into laughter. For the next six days, papers all over the country declare that Galt has decided to help the government, and that he is currently conferring with the nation's leaders. No one on the street believes the articles, and most do not believe that Galt has been found at all. Chick Morrison tells Thompson that something more must be done to reassure the people. He suggests a televised rally of some kind. Ferris points out that in his current state of intractability Galt might be dangerous at such an event, but that there are very effective methods available for ensuring cooperation. Thompson is hesitant to follow his advice. He once again goes to Dagny. She has been playing the role of Galt's enemy for days now, and she has become quite skilled. Afraid that the government would kill Galt if they knew just how tough he is, she tells Thompson that Galt will eventually break. That evening, she finds a letter from Francisco waiting in her apartment. He asks her to sit tight and watch Galt's progress. If it seems that Galt is in danger, she should call Francisco. A few days later, Eddie informs Dagny that a faction in California has seized San Francisco and is holding every Taggart train hostage. He will fly to California on an army plane to try and save their transcontinental line. He asks Dagny if she know how he feels about her, and she tells him that she knows it, that she has always known it. They shake hands solemnly and he departs. At John Galt's request, Dr. Stadler goes to see him at the Wayne-Falkland. He finds Galt sitting quietly on the windowsill. Before John can say anything, Stadler is overwhelmed with terror and guilt. He declares that his downfall was not his fault, that he never had a chance against the world. Galt says nothing. Stadler grows steadily angrier, asserting that he cannot be guilty, that for centuries men have acted just as he now does and they cannot all be wrong. He begins to scream, loudly proclaiming that he is not afraid of Galt, that Galt is a miserable failure, that he is going to be killed, that he cannot be allowed to win. Suddenly, he realizes what he has said. Galt stands before him like a judge. Stadler has stated everything Galt intended to say.
Three days later, Chick Morrison enters Galt's suite and orders him to get dressed. When he is ready, a large, muscular man holds a gun to his back and escorts him downstairs. He holds the gun close to Galt's back, so that it is invisible to any observers. In a few minutes, Galt is brought into a large ballroom. Several hundred people watch as he sits at the center of a long table with dozens of national leaders. The thug holding him prisoner is introduced as Galt's secretary. Sitting in the audience, Dagny notices that every man in the ballroom is struggling desperately to believe the situation, to believe that the plight of the nation is over. Several important figures make speeches about the John Galt Plan for Peace, Prosperity, and Profit. Mr. Thompson introduces John Galt as the next speaker. The camera moves to Galt, and he stands up quickly, suddenly, exposing for an instant the barrel of his captor's gun. He steps up to the microphone and says calmly, with full emphasis, "Get the hell out of my way!"
The John Galt speech, like Roark 's speech in The Fountainhead , forms the philosophical heart of this novel. Most of the ideas presented in the speech have appeared before, in bits and pieces of conversation, but in this section they are fused and clarified into a single, unbroken statement. Galt's speech is an ultimatum for the men in power and a call to arms for their victims.
Dagny is able to pretend that she is Galt's enemy because she knows that she is only pretending. It is not easy to lie and pretend contempt for the object of her most profound admiration, but she knows that she is not betraying him or herself. This, of course, as Rand intends, is a startling contrast to the fraud carried on by the people around her. They have no hope of emerging from a daze of lies and self-deception; they have no purpose and no method of salvation. They are illusions, within and without, terrified by occasional glimpses into their own natures. Their self-esteem, their pride, their strength, all are dependent on a delicate web of non-absolutes. To these people, John Galt is terrifying and lethal. Notice the effect he has on Robert Stadler . In the next section, Galt will destroy Jim Taggart as well. In the world of Ayn Rand's philosophy, to a creature of illusion and obscurity, nothing is more deadly than pure, righteous light.
The morale rally held for the John Galt Plan is a desperate attempt to win Galt's support. For the reader, such an attempt appears ridiculous, pathetic. Galt is not after power or admiration, only justice, and is thus impervious to any enticement. For the Aristocrats of Pull, however, there is no conceivable reason why the rally should fail. They cannot imagine a man so completely immune to compulsion and corruption that he would refuse to accept the power they offer him, and refuse at the price of his very life. They do not understand that by displaying him before the nation they are revealing to a spiritually starved people the nature of nourishment and health.
Part III: Chapters 9-10
Dr. Stadler hears John Galt 's unexpected declaration on the radio in his car. Immediately afterwards, a sharp click cuts off the broadcast. The radio station has gone dead. He drives on, his mind filled with an unclear purpose. He feels he must take control and rule the nation, but he does not know how or why. Below the panicked determination is a terrified, vicious desire to show Galt that the only way to live on earth is to give up one's soul. He drives to the barracks of Project X and tries to bully his way past the guards. The men he encounters are ignorant, muscular mercenaries. He realizes that a group of men calling themselves the Friends of the People have taken control of Project X. He is directed to the office of the group's leader, who turns out to be Cuffy Meigs. Stadler informs Meigs that he is here to take control. He steps to the weapon's switchboard and begins to run his hands over the controls. Meigs throws him aside and yanks on a lever. An excruciating sound tears the room to pieces. The entire building collapses, and everything within a radius of a hundred miles is disintegrated.
After Galt's disastrous broadcast, Chick Morrison resigns. The other Washington men are unnerved and desperate. Dr. Ferris convinces them to adopt his proposed method. Dagny hears their decision and realizes that they no longer care if Galt gives in or holds out forever. They know that nothing can save them. They no longer want to live; they only want him to die. She runs out of the hotel and finds an open bar. No one notices her entrance or her incongruous attire. Several patrons are still staring anxiously into an empty television screen. She finds a telephone and calls Francisco . She tells him that Galt will soon be tortured. He tells her to go home and change, pack a few belongings, and meet him in forty minutes in front of the Taggart Terminal. After she packs a few items of clothing, she hurries to her office. She takes the picture of Nathaniel Taggart down from the wall and places it in her suitcase, along with a map of Taggart Transcontinental. Just as she is about to leave, a panicked engineer rushes into her office and tells her that the Taggart Bridge has been destroyed. She leaps to her desk and picks up the phone, but then slowly, excruciatingly, with unbearable effort, puts it back down. She informs the engineer that she does not know what to do and leaves. On the way out of the Terminal, she pulls her lipstick out of her purse and draws, on the base of the Nathaniel Taggart statue, the sign of the dollar. She spots Francisco and approaches him slowly. She stands before him and solemnly pronounces Galt's oath. He smiles in salute.
Project F is housed in a small, squat structure neatly tucked into the side of a hill. The guards and engineers posted to the unit were carefully chosen for their complete, unquestioning obedience. In a cellar room, within the hill, Dr. Ferris, Wesley Mouch , and Jim Taggart sit in modest armchairs across from an irregularly shaped machine. Long coils of wire extend from the machine, across the floor, to end at several points on the naked body of John Galt, strapped to a mattress. Dr. Ferris tells him that he must become dictator, must tell everyone how to save the nation. He will not be allowed to leave this room until he divulges a complete outline of the exact measures he intends to take as economic dictator. When Galt does not answer, Ferris orders the machine's operator to begin the torture. Galt's limbs, chest, and body are successively stimulated, but Galt does not make a sound. Ferris orders a random sequence of shocks. Galt's body shakes in violent agony, but he keeps his mouth shut. The sounds of his heart and breathing become dangerously erratic, but Galt's face remains composed. Ferris, Mouch, and Taggart feel that their own hearts are beginning to collapse. Their orders become shrill, and desperate, but Galt does not answer. Suddenly, the generator of the Ferris Persuader fails. The engineer in charge has no idea how to fix it. Galt informs the engineer that two wires in the vibrator are fused, and that to fix the generator he needs to pry open the cover and force them apart. The engineer, a profoundly stolid, unthinking man, suddenly cattches a glimpse of what he is doing. He runs out of the room, terrified. Galt laughs. Taggart leaps to the machine and attempts desperately to fix it himself, declaring that Galt must be broken at all costs. He wants to hear Galt scream, he frantically tells the others, but abruptly he lets out a long, piercing scream of his own. He is suddenly seeing his entire life and the motive behind his every action. He realizes that he hates Galt because he is great and strong, that he wants only to torture and destroy that greatness. Galt looks into Taggart's eyes and tells him that the things Taggart is now seeing are precisely the evil described in the radio broadcast. Jim's every pretense collapses, and he falls backwards in a feeble daze. Galt watches as Ferris and Mouch nervously take the body out of the room.
Dagny walks straight into Project F and confronts the first guard she encounters. She tells him that she is here by order of Mr. Thompson, and she must be allowed to enter. The guard is confused, unsure of what to do. Dagny warns him that if he does not let her enter, she will shoot him. He still hesitates, and she fires her gun directly at his heart. His body hits the ground with a heavy thud, but otherwise no sound is made--her gun is equipped with a silencer. Francisco d'Anconia, Hank Rearden , and Ragnar Danneskjold step to her side. They have just taken care of four other guards. They encounter two other guards, one of whom reaches for his gone. Francisco is far too quick, however. He shoots and hits the guard in the hand, shattering his fingers. The other guard tells them that the prisoner is being held one floor up, behind the middle of three connected rooms. Rearden walks up the stairs alone and enters the middle room. Eight guards turn to him and recognize his face immediately. He tells the chief that all the industrialists have made a deal with the government and are returning to work, but the chief is harshly skeptical. Rearden tells him that his friends have surrounded the building, and if he refuses to let Rearden through, he will suffer the consequences. The other guards are frightened, panicked, but the chief continues to resist. He realizes that his men are now completely useless. He draws his gun and shoots at Rearden, hitting him in the shoulder. In the same instant, his hand erupts in a spray of blood and his gun falls to the ground. The guards turn to see Francisco standing at the door to the left. They have all drawn their guns and are now uncertainly pointing them at him. The chief orders them to shoot, but the guards continue to hesitate. One of them breaks for the door to the right, but stops short when he finds Dagny standing there holding her own gun. Rearden points out that none of the guards has any idea what they are fighting for, but all three intruders do and are willing to die to complete their mission. One of the guards drops his gun. The chief picks up his gun with his left hand and shoots the deserter. As the man's body hits the ground, a window shatters; Ragnar Danneskjold flies into the room. When he identifies himself to the startled guards, four of them drop their guns. The fifth fires his at the chief's forehead.
Dagny, Francisco, Hank, and Ragnar order one of the guards to lead them to the prisoner. They find Galt still strapped to the bed. Francisco and Ragnar are murderously angry, but Galt bids them to calm down. He looks to Dagny's eyes, and she smiles through her tears. As Galt dresses, Ragnar slowly, methodically tears the Persuader to pieces. They climb aboard Francisco's airplane, which has been waiting outside, and fly toward Colorado. On the way, Francisco informs the other men of the valley that Galt is safe. Most the able- bodied men, led by Ellis Wyatt , are waiting in the forests to attack the stronghold. They were afraid that a large-scale attack would prompt the men inside to kill Galt, so they sent in Dagny's team first. Had Dagny failed, the entire force would have attacked. Danneskjold tells the otthers that he plans to return to teaching philosophy. Hugh Akston radios Francisco's plane and asks to speak to Galt. He expresses relief that John is safe. Galt responds that he had to be safe, because A is A.
The locomotive of the Comet, eastbound from San Francisco, breaks down in the middle of a desert in Arizona. The conductor informs Eddie Willers that the engineer is working on the problem, but the look of resignation in his eyes implies that nothing can be done. Eddie is angry and frustrated. He worked relentlessly to secure the train in California. The conductor reports that no one at Division Headquarters answered his call. Eddie feels a bitter determination to hold on to the train, to the railroad--to his faith in the world. With a sickening sense of terror, Eddie sees a caravan of covered wagons approaching. The leader of the caravan asks Eddie if he needs a lift. Eddie informs him that they are headed for New York. The man points out that there is no way to get to New York, because the Taggart Bridge is gone. At this news, Eddie falls backwards, shaken by an overwhelming feeling of futility and bitterness. The engineer and conductor step aboard the caravan, urging Eddie to do the same, but he refuses. After the wagons leave, Eddie collapses on the rail in front of the engine, sobbing helplessly.
Richard Halley's Fifth Concerto fills the air of the valley. Midas Mulligan is sitting in his study, working on a plan for projected investments. Kay Ludlow is standing before a mirror in Danneskjold's home, studying different shades of film makeup. Ragnar lies on a couch nearby, reading the works of Aristotle. Judge Narragansett is sitting at his desk rewriting the United States Constitution, eliminating the clauses that undermined it in the first place. Francisco sits in his cabin, working on the plan of a new smelter. Rearden and Ellis Wyatt sit by the fireplace, discussing the transportation they will need. Galt and Dagny are walking together on the highest accessible ledge of a mountain. Dagny knows that the words he is about to pronounce, and that she will be the first to hear them. From this height, they can see the defiant flame of Wyatt's Torch. Galt steps to the ledge. "The road is cleared," he says. "We are going back to the world." He stretches out his hand over the earth and traces the sign of the dollar.
The mindless brutes guarding Project F are no match for Dagny and the others. Their strength and superior numbers are powerless against a combination of force and intelligence. They were chosen for their inability to disobey orders, and this is precisely the cause of their complete defeat. Men who follow orders blindly are dangerous but unreliable soldiers. When faced with an unexpected situation, their strength and courage fail them. Ragnar has been demonstrating this principle for twelve years now, and he has never encountered an exception.
For years now, Jim has slowly been spiraling toward destruction. Among the Washington men, he was always the most easily panicked, the most dangerously resentful of the industrialists. In several crucial moments in his life, he was faced with the dreadful blackness of his own soul, but managed to turn away. In Galt 's presence, under the power of Galt's relentless justice, Jim could not save himself in time. He was forced to see, with ruthless, unblinking clarity, the evil that drove Cherryl to her death, the evil that now leads him to wish torture and death upon the greatest man on earth.
As Galt tells Hugh Akston, his victory was inevitable because "A is A." That is, the world is composed of objective values. Those who attempt to ignore them will eventually wipe themselves from existence. The men of the mind, the men whose courage and intelligence allow them to perceive and accept reality, are the only men who truly belong in the world. They are the heart of civilization. If they can set their own terms, as Galt and the others have, they are invincible. Their triumph is certain and right, because they are the first crusaders in history to ride into battle with justice and truth on their side. Their god is reason, and therefore the quasi- religious imagery in the novel's final paragraph is appropriate. Galt extends his hand and traces over the earth, as a blessing and redemption, the most sacred symbol on earth, the emblem of achievement and creation, the sign of reason.
1. Is there a tendency in Rand's heroic characters to repress their emotions? Is this portrayed as positive or negative? [Answer]
2. Is Rand contending that charity is immoral? Is Mother Theresa then an evil and dangerous person?[Answer]
3. Leonard Peikoff, Rand's literary heir, contends that our society is slowly descending into the nightmare world of Atlas Shrugged. To what extent is this true?[Answer]
4. Ayn Rand called herself a romantic realist. How does Atlas Shrugged fit this description?
5. Feminists are among the most ardent of Rand's critics. Do you think that their criticism stems from the essence of her philosophy or from her particular application of this essence? That is, do feminists resent Objectivism, or Rand's representation of ideal living through Objectivist thought? What do you think ofDagny ? How does her femininity influence her character and the events in the book?
6. Does Rand contend in this novel that the men of superlative capacity are morally superior to those who possess only average ability?
7. The heroes in this novel repeatedly criticize religion as anti-human and spiritually destructive. In the last half-century, many religions have strayed from absolute orthodoxy and adopted more humanist attitudes. Do you believe this evolution will eventually lead to the perfection or the destruction of religious thought?
8. How doesDagny knows John Galt is her final choice? Is Dagny (and, therefore, Rand) guilty of undue reliance on intuition when she declares that she has always waited for Galt, or is Galt only a conveniently real representation of Dagny's purely rational expectations?
9. Nearly every conversation among the heroes in this novel eventually becomes a lengthy philosophical discussion. Is this Rand's idea of what moral life should be, or is it only necessary for the sake of literary clarity?
10. Are there men like John Galt in the real world?
Study Questions: Suggested Answers
Answer for Question 1
Rand would naturally point out that the heroes in Atlas Shrugged are immensely passionate, that they feel more deeply and more completely than those who preach the superiority of instinct over reason. Though accurate, this answer only partially satisfies the question. Her characters are capable of such passion because their emotional evaluations match their rational evaluations of life. However, when faced with a conflict between the two, the heroes in Atlas Shrugged inevitably and somewhat ruthlessly choose to follow the former. In this way, they are guilty of unhealthy repression, a repression that stems from a fundamental misconception of psychology. As Rand herself contends, emotions are based upon conscious or subconscious value judgments. More importantly, like rational evaluations, they stem purely from reality and represent specific, inevitable conclusions drawn from experience. If a rational conclusion and an emotional conclusion are in conflict, one of the two must have emerged from flawed or incomplete premises. This is the idea that consistently eludes the characters in this novel.
Answer for Question 2
A supporter of Rand's philosophy might explain the answer to this question like this: Charity is only immoral if adopted as a substitute for productive, joyous living. There is a great tendency in human beings toward benevolence and mutual aid, a tendency of considerable evolutionary advantage. Human beings are naturally social creatures because a society of caring, moral individuals is proof against innumerable dangers. There is an immense difference, however, between this charity and self- sacrifice. The essence of life is personal happiness. If the only possible morality is to produce happiness in others, no one can ever be truly happy or moral. Each person would forsake his own needs for the needs of his neighbors; his neighbors would forsake their needs for the sake of their neighbors, nullifying the effects of the first man's sacrifices; and so on, indefinitely. This is a far cry, however, from sincere benevolence. To give is not inherently an immoral act, as long as the purpose of the gift is the satisfaction and contentment of the giver. Mother Theresa, therefore, is a moral person as long as her altruistic practices represent the rational pursuit of a personal happiness.
Answer for Question 3
Though clearly there is no simple satisfactory answer to this contention, one must always remember that Peikoff has a tendency to rigid dogmatism. He points to the graduated income tax, the welfare state, the widespread public distrust of big business. These practices, however, are not necessarily indications of widespread immorality. In fact, they are sincere, if misguided attempts at social justice. There are many sincere capitalists in the United States; it still represents the greatest bastion of democracy and free thought in the world, but in truth, most businessmen today are more like Orren Boyle than Hank Rearden . Their money may be tainted by years of unfair economic practices. Without government regulations, they would be unable to make profits. These men are gross misrepresentations of greed and money, but they are prominent figures in our economy. Peikoff's warning is partly true in that we are in great danger, but not from the evil of altruism or mysticism. These factors are all but meaningless in contemporary society. The real threat is that in attempting to curb the practices of corrupt men we are allowing the government to grow larger, giving these men even more power. As in Atlas Shrugged, the craftiest, most immoral businessmen will find ways to exploit any system.