Atlas Shrugged, Condensed

Associated book review

Summary of Part I: “NON-CONTRADICTION”

Part 1, Chapter 1

“Who is John Galt?”

This, the first line of the book, is not a question; it is a phrase of “gutter slang” whose meaning seems to be something like “Who knows?” or “I can’t say”. Every once in a while, someone in the book will say “I know who is John Galt” and proceed to tell a legend about him, a different legend each time.

As the story begins, Taggart Transcontinental rail lines are starting to fall apart in many parts of the country due to a lack of maintenance. Eddie Willers walks to work at Taggart Transcontinental’s New York City headquarters, a skyscraper built atop one of its train terminals. Eddie argues with president James “Jim” Taggart about the need to repair the Rio Norte line. Jim complains about oilman Ellis Wyatt for doing business with Phoenix-Durango, a regional competitor who provides more and better service around Colorado.

“Yes, I know, I know, he’s making money. But that is not the standard, it seems to me, by which one gauges a man’s value to society. And as for his oil, he’d come crawling to us. and he’d wait his turn along with all the other shippers, and he wouldn’t demand more than his fair share of transportation — if it weren’t for the Phoenix-Durango. We can’t help it if we’re up against destructive competition of that kind. Nobody can blame us.”

Meanwhile, Dagny Taggart is riding toward New York on the Taggart Comet train.

“Dagny’s rise among the men who operated Taggart Transcontinental was swift and uncontested. She took positions of responsibility because there was no one else to take them. There were a few rare men of talent around her, but they were becoming rarer every year.”

She listens happily to a brakeman as he whistled a tune she’s never heard by a favorite composer, Richard Halley. When asked, the brakeman reports it is Halley’s Fifth Concerto. “Richard Halley wrote only four concertos,” she slowly responds. His smile vanishes and he says, “Yes, of course, I’m wrong. I made a mistake.”

Dagny orders Rearden Steel and Rearden Metal to replace old rail, over the objections of Jim Taggart, who prefers to deal with his friend Orren Boyle even though the latter has failed to deliver their orders for 13 months.

“We’re talking about saving a railroad, Jim.”

“Yes, of course, of course, but still, you haven’t any sense of the human element.”

“No. I haven’t.”

“If we give Rearden such a large order for steel rails—”

“They’re not going to be steel. They’re Rearden Metal.”

She had always avoided personal reactions, but she was forced to break her rule when she saw the expression on Taggart’s face. She burst out laughing.

Rearden Metal was a new alloy, produced by Rearden after ten years of experiments. He had placed it on the market recently. He had received no orders and had found no customers.

Taggart could not understand the transition from the laughter to the sudden tone of Dagny’s voice; the voice was cold and harsh: “Drop it, Jim. I know everything you’re going to say. Nobody’s ever used it before. Nobody approves of Rearden Metal. Nobody’s interested in it. Nobody wants it. Still, our rails are going to be made of Rearden Metal.”

“But …” said Taggart, “but … but nobody’s ever used it before!”

He observed, with satisfaction, that she was silenced by anger. He liked to observe emotions; they were like red lanterns strung along the dark unknown of another’s personality, marking vulnerable points. But how one could feel a personal emotion about a metal alloy, and what such an emotion indicated, was incomprehensible to him; so he could make no use of his discovery.

“The consensus of the best metallurgical authorities,” he said, “seems to be highly skeptical about Rearden Metal, contending—”

“Drop it, Jim.”

“Well, whose opinion did you take?”

“I don’t ask for opinions.”

“What do you go by?”


“Well, whose judgment did you take?”


“But whom did you consult about it?”


“Then what on earth do you know about Rearden Metal?”

“That it’s the greatest thing ever put on the market.”


“Because it’s tougher than steel, cheaper than steel and will outlast any hunk of metal in existence.”

“But who says so?”

“Jim, I studied engineering in college. When I see things, I see them.”

“What did you see?”

“Rearden’s formula and the tests he showed me.”

“Well, if it were any good, somebody would have used it, and nobody has.” He saw the flash of anger, and went on nervously: “How can you know it’s good? How can you be sure? How can you decide?”

“Somebody decides such things, Jim. Who?”

“Well, I don’t see why we have to be the first ones. I don’t see it at all.”

“Do you want to save the Rio Norte Line or not?” He did not answer, “If the road could afford it, I would scrap every piece of rail over the whole system and replace it with Rearden Metal. All of it needs replacing. None of it will last much longer. But we can’t afford it. We have to get out of a bad hole, first. Do you want us to pull through or not?”

“We’re still the best railroad in the country. The others are doing much worse.”

“Then do you want us to remain in the hole?”

“I haven’t said that! Why do you always oversimplify things that way?”

Part 1, Chapter 2

Hank Rearden, filled with pride that his metal is ready for production after 10 years, takes home the first object made of it, a bracelet for his wife.

He did not think of the ten years. What remained of them tonight was only a feeling which he could not name, except that it was quiet and solemn. The feeling was a sum, and he did not have to count again the parts that had gone to make it. But the parts, unrecalled, were there, within the feeling. They were the nights spent at scorching ovens in the research laboratory of the mills — the nights spent in the workshop of his home, over sheets of paper which he filled with formulas, then tore up in angry failure — the days when the young scientists of the small staff he had chosen to assist him waited for instructions like soldiers ready for a hopeless battle, having exhausted their ingenuity, still willing, but silent, with the unspoken sentence hanging in the air: “Mr. Rearden, it can’t be done— “—the meals, interrupted and abandoned at the sudden flash of a new thought, a thought to be pursued at once, to be tried, to be tested, to be worked on for months, and to be discarded as another failure — the moments snatched from conferences, from contracts, from the duties of running the best steel mills in the country, snatched almost guiltily, as for a secret love — the one thought held immovably across a span of ten years, undereverything he did and everything he saw, the thought held in his mindwhen he looked at the buildings of a city, at the track of a railroad, at the light in the windows of a distant farmhouse, at the knife in the hands of a beautiful woman cutting a piece of fruit at a banquet, the thought of a metal alloy that would do more than steel had ever done, a metal that would be to steel what steel had been to iron — the acts of self-racking when he discarded a hope or a sample, not permitting himself to know that he was tired, not giving himself time to feel, driving himself through the wringing torture of: “not good enough … still not good enough … and going on with no motor save the conviction that it could be done — then the day when it was done and its result was called Rearden Metal — these were the things that had come to white heat, had melted and fused within him, and their alloy was a strange, quiet feeling that made him smile at the countryside in the darkness and wonder why happiness could hurt.

His family (wife Lillian, brother Philip, and mother) are not impressed. When Hank gives the first object made of Rearden Metal as a gift to his wife, Philip bursts out with “God, Henry, but you’re conceited!”

He had offered his mother unlimited means to live as and where she pleased; he wondered why she had insisted that she wanted to live with him. His success, he had thought, meant something to her, and if it did, then it was a bond between them, the only kind of bond he recognized; if she wanted a place in the home of her successful son, he would not deny it to her.

“It’s no use hoping to make a saint out of Henry, Mother,” said Philip. “He wasn’t meant to be one.”

“Oh but, Philip, you’re wrong!” said Lillian. “You’re so wrong! Henry has all the makings of a saint. That’s the trouble.” What did they seek from him? — thought Rearden — what were they after? He had never asked anything of them; it was they who wished to hold him, they who pressed a claim on him — and the claim seemed to have the form of affection, but it was a form which he found harder to endure than any sort of hatred. He despised causeless affection, just as he despised unearned wealth. They professed to love him for some unknown reason and they ignored all the things for which he could wish to be loved. He wondered what response they could hope to obtain from him in such manner — if his response was what they wanted.

Part 1, Chapter 3

Jim Taggart and Orren Boyle meet in a dark, exclusive pub with Wesley Mouch and Hank Rearden’s “old friend” Paul Larkin, where they discuss how Rearden Metal can be framed as a public hazard.

Boyle did not answer; his face had become sullen. “Listen, Jim …” he began heavily. […] “Jim, you will agree, I’m sure, that there’s nothing more destructive than a monopoly.”

“Yes,” said Taggart, “on the one hand. On the other, there’s the blight of unbridled competition.”

“That’s true. That’s very true. The proper course is always, in my opinion, in the middle. So it is, I think, the duty of society to snip the extremes, now isn’t it?”

“Yes,” said Taggart, “it is.”

They agree to lobby Washington to do something to stop Rearden.

“Speaking of progressive policies, Orren,” said Taggart, “you might ask yourself whether at a time of transportation shortages, when so many railroads are going bankrupt and large areas are left without rail service, whether it is in the public interest to tolerate wasteful duplication of services and the destructive, dog-eat-dog competition of newcomers in territories where established companies have historical priority.”

“Well, now,” said Boyle pleasantly, “that seems to be an interesting question to consider. I might discuss it with a few friends in the National Alliance of Railroads.”

In New Jersey, Dagny speaks to the evasive president of United Locomotive Works, who offers no explanation for the delays in production. (This is a pattern: Rand rarely explains why bad things happen in her story; readers are free to imagine any cause that pleases them, while Rand nudges readers to blame things like irrationality and collectivism.)

Dagny Taggart was nine years old when she decided that she would run the Taggart Transcontinental Railroad some day. She stated it to herself when she stood alone between the rails, looking at the two straight lines of steel that went off into the distance and met in a single point.

On her way through the plant, she had seen an enormous piece of machinery left abandoned in a corner of the yard. It had been a precision machine tool once, long ago, of a kind that could not be bought anywhere now. It had not been worn out; it had been rotted by neglect, eaten by rust and the black drippings of a dirty oil. She had turned her face away from it. A sight of that nature always blinded her for an instant by the burst of too violent an anger. She did not know why; she could not define her own feeling; she knew only that there was, in her feeling, a scream of protest against injustice, and that it was a response to something much beyond an old piece of machinery.

Back in her office, Eddie informs her that the president of “the best contractor in the country”, Dick McNamara, quit suddenly despite sitting on “a pile of contracts that are worth a fortune”.

Dagny thinks back to the time when Jim pushed through a plan to build a rail line to a d’Anconia copper mine in the People’s State of Mexico (“It is our duty to help an underprivileged nation to develop. A country, it seems to me, is its neighbors’ keeper”), which she apparently opposed because the money was needed to repair many lines in America. She almost resigned, but the Board appointed her VP of Operations. The new line did not bring any surge of trade nor copper ore.

Jim is mad that Dagny reduced service there, “So that the looters won’t have too much to loot when they nationalize the line.” Jim refuses to decide which services to cut in order to restore service, so Dagny wins. That night, Eddie confides about the critical maintenance situation to an unnamed railroad worker with grease-stained clothes in the cafeteria, as he often does.

Part 1, Chapter 4

Dagny walks home past vacuous pop-culture advertisements on a run-down street, to her well-furnished apartment near the top of a skyscraper, and listens once again to Richard Halley, who had retired suddenly after his first successful opera. She accidently sees and reads a newspaper article about her former friend Francisco d’Anconia, and one Mrs. Vail, who tells a tale of their affair.

There have been many rumors that Mexico was about to nationalize the new rail line, rumors which Jim angrily ignored until now, the day it happens, at which point he immediately claims to have forseen it and takes credit for Dagny’s service reductions.

Next, the National Alliance of Railroads passes the anti-competition rule (with no stated motive):

The men who sat in the large hall of the meeting were the presidents of the railroads. They did not like the Anti-dog-eat-dog Rule; they had hoped it would never be brought up. But when it was brought up, they voted for it. […] To the last minute, every one of them had hoped that someone would save them from it.

The Rule provided that the members of the National Alliance of Railroads were forbidden to engage in practices defined as “destructive competition”; that in regions declared to be restricted, no more than one railroad would be permitted to operate; that in such regions, seniority belonged to the oldest railroad now operating there, and that the newcomers, who had encroached unfairly upon its territory, would suspend operations within nine months after being so ordered; that the Executive Board of the National Alliance of Railroads was empowered to decide, at its sole discretion, which regions were to be restricted.

As a new member of the Alliance, Phoenix-Durango is forced to abandon its main source of revenue within 9 months, so that, among other things, Taggart’s Rio Norte line can have all the business in Colorado. When Jim Taggart visits Dagny to gloat about it, Dagny quickly rushes to Dan Conway of Phoenix-Durango to offer him any help she can give to fight the new rule in court. Dan Conway refuses to fight, explaining that “I’ve never gone back on my word in my life,” and his word included accepting the democratic choices of the National Alliance. Instead, he asks Dagny to restore their Rio Norte line in order to accept the massive amount of new business it would be asked for in 9 months, and then Ellis Wyatt visits her to demand transportation when Phoenix-Durango shuts down.

She had had an “almost impossible schedule” to replace the Rio Norte line; now Dagny rushes to meet Hank Rearden, the only man who can possibly help her complete the line in 9 months. He says, “I’ll do it.” He charges extra, but not as much as he could, since he is eager to showcase his new metal. Later, the two of them watch, both in awe, almost romantically, as one of the first batches of Rearden Metal is loaded onto a car (a train?).

Part 1, Chapter 5

Mexico complains that the d’Anconia mines were worthless, so Dagny demands a meeting with Franciso in the luxurious New York Wayne-Falkland hotel where he seems to live. As she walks to the hotel, she thinks back to her childhood, when Francisco spent one month each summer with her and Eddie.

“Dagny, I’ll always bow to a coat-of-arms. I’ll always worship the symbols of nobility. Am I not supposed to be an aristocrat? Only I don’t give a damn for moth-eaten turrets and tenth-hand unicorns. The coats-of-arms of our day are to be found on billboards and in the ads of popular magazines.”

She recalls the time when he had secretly bypassed child-labor laws to work for Taggart Transcontinental “To learn what it’s like”, the time when he hit a home run the first time he tried to use a baseball bat, the time he was 16 and noticed her beauty, and the next summer when Jim brought something he learned in college to Francisco:

“It’s time to forget your selfish greed and give some thought to your social responsibilities, because I think that all those millions you’re going to inherit are not for your personal pleasure, they are a trust for the benefit of the underprivileged and the poor, because I think that the person who doesn’t realize this is the most depraved type of human being.”

Francisco answered courteously, “It is not advisable, James, to venture unsolicited opinions. You should spare yourself the embarrassing discovery of their exact value to your listener.”

Dagny asked him, as they walked away, “Are there many men like Jim in the world?”

Francisco laughed. “A great many.”

“Don’t you mind it?”

“No. I don’t have to deal with them. Why do you ask that?”

“Because I think they’re dangerous in some way … I don’t know how . .

[…] She heard him chuckling, and after a while he said, “Dagny, there’s nothing of any importance in life — except how well you do your work. Nothing. Only that. Whatever else you are, will come from that. It’s the only measure of human value. All the codes of ethics they’ll try to ram down your throat are just so much paper money put out by swindlers to fleece people of their virtues. The code of competence is the only system of morality that’s on a gold standard. When you grow up, you’ll know what I mean.”

One time she decided to win a tennis match against Francisco, and only won because Francisco was laughing so hard. Later, Francisco walked to her workplace at Rockdale (whatever that is) and watched her work, then asked her to walk home with him, five miles, leaving the car behind. In a clearing in a forest, he took her body for the first time.

She felt a moment’s rebellion and a hint of fear. He held her, pressing the length of his body against hers with a tense, purposeful insistence, his hand moving over her breasts as if he were learning a proprietor’s intimacy with her body, a shocking intimacy that needed no consent from her, no permission. She tried to pull herself away, but she only leaned back against his arms long enough to see his face and his smile, the smile that told her she had given him permission long ago. She thought that she must escape; instead, it was she who pulled his head down to find his mouth again.


They kept their secret from the knowledge of others, not as a shameful guilt, but as a thing that was immaculately theirs, beyond anyone’s right of debate or appraisal. She knew the general doctrine on sex, held by people in one form or another, the doctrine that sex was an ugly weakness of man’s lower nature, to be condoned regretfully. She experienced an emotion of chastity that made her shrink, not from the desires of her body, but from any contact with the minds who held this doctrine.

In the many months of his absence, she never wondered whether he was true to her or not; she knew he was. She knew, even though she was too young to know the reason, that indiscriminate desire and unselective indulgence were possible only to those who regarded sex and themselves as evil.

Francisco soon became head of the NYC office of d’Anconia Copper. About two years later, his father died and he left Dagny for three years as he headed the company in Buenos Aires. Then one night he asked to meet her. He had changed:

“Dagny, don’t be astonished by anything I do,” he said, “or by anything I may ever do in the future.”

That night:

Without transition or warning, he asked, his voice oddly unstressed, “Dagny, what would you say if I asked you to leave Taggart Transcontinental and let it go to hell, as it will when your brother takes over?”

“What would I say if you asked me to consider the idea of committing suicide?” she answered angrily.

He shuddered suddenly, he threw off the blanket, he looked at her naked body, then he fell forward and buried his face between her breasts. He held her shoulders, hanging onto her convulsively. She heard the words, muffled, his mouth pressed to her skin: “I can’t give it up! I can’t!”

“What?” she whispered.


“Why should—”

“And everything.”

“Why should you give it up?”

“Dagny! Help me to remain. To refuse. Even though he’s right!”

“What is it, Francisco?”

“I can’t tell you.” His voice was simple, open, without attempt to disguise suffering, but it was a voice that obeyed him now. “You’re not ready to hear it.”

She heard nothing from Francisco for a year, then the newspaper stories appeared about his activities as a playboy: the fancy parties, the women, the nudity. He still won at every business vernture he attempted, it just wasn’t as many as before.

[….] She heard nothing from him or about him for a year. When she began to hear gossip and to read newspaper stories, she did not believe, at first, that they referred to Francisco d’Anconia. After a while, she had to believe it.

Entering the hotel, she feels a cold anger growing as she approaches his room. Which vanishes instantly the moment he happily greets her. As they converse, he notes in passing that Mrs. Vail’s story doesn’t check out, because on the day that Vail said she had an affair with him in the Andes, he was presiding over the opening of the Mexican rail line. Speaking of which,

“[…] ‘investment’ is a relative term. It depends on what you wish to accomplish. For instance, look at San Sebastian [the Mexican rail line]. It cost me fifteen million dollars, but these fifteen million wiped out forty million belonging to Taggart Transcontinental, thirty-five million belonging to stockholders such as Jim Taggart and Orren Boyle, and hundreds of millions which will be lost in secondary consequences. That’s not a bad return on an investment, is it, Dagny?”

Of course, he won’t really explain his reasons.

Part 1, Chapter 6

At Rearden’s anniversary party, he stands by himself at a window, enduring the presence of anti-business elites invited by his wife.

(You can tell they are “intellectuals” because they everything they say is ridiculous.)

Dr. Simon Pritchett, head of the Department of Philosophy at Patrick Henry University, explains that “Man’s metaphysical pretensions are preposterous. A miserable bit of protoplasm, full of ugly little concepts and mean little emotions — and it imagines itself important! Really, you know, that is the root of all the troubles in the world.” He goes on to explain that “The purpose of philosophy is not to help men find the meaning of life, but to prove to them that there isn’t any.” Balph Eubank, whose most popular book sold 3,000 copies, explains that “The literature of the past was a shallow fraud. It whitewashed life in order to please the money tycoons whom it served. Morality, free will, achievement, happy endings, and man as some sort of heroic being — all that stuff is laughable to us. Our age has given depth to literature for the first time, by exposing the real essence of life: defeat and suffering.” Jim Taggart is there for networking.

And then there’s Bertram Scudder, who had written a smear piece about Hank Rearden that “did not contain a single fact, not even an invented one”. Scudder explains to other guests that “Property rights are a superstition” since “The people can seize it at any moment.” Hank is angry at Lilian for inviting him, but she urges him to “learn to tolerate the opinions of others and respect their right of free speech.”

Dagny decides to show up in a black dress, “in honor of the first sixty miles of Rearden Metal track”, but Rearden is oddly reserved and will only speak briefly to her.

Then Francisco d’Anconia appears unexpectedly and speaks with Rearden, since he had come to the party solely in order to learn about him. d’Anconia must work hard to convince Rearden he isn’t just a despicable, careless playboy. As they look out at a distant storm, d’Anconia says,

“It’s a terrible night for any animal caught unprotected on that plain [….] This is when one should appreciate the meaning of being a man.”

[…] “You stood here and watched the storm — with the greatest pride one can ever feel — because you are able to have summer flowers and half naked women in your house on a night like this, in demonstration of your victory over that storm. And if it weren’t for you, most of those who are here would be left helpless at the mercy of that wind in the middle of some such plain.”

“How did you know that?”

[…] “That is what I felt once, when I was young.”

“Why do you want to talk about it?” Rearden asked, prompted by a moment’s reluctant compassion.

“Let us say — by way of gratitude, Mr. Rearden.”

[…] Rearden’s voice hardened. “I haven’t asked for gratitude. I don’t need it.”

“I have not said you needed it. But of all those whom you are saving from the storm tonight, I am the only one who will offer it.”

[…] “You wouldn’t understand it if I told you that the man who works, works for himself, even if he does carry the whole wretched bunch of you along. Now I’ll guess what you’re thinking: go ahead, say that it’s evil, that I’m selfish, conceited, heartless, cruel. I am. I don’t want any part of that tripe about working for others. I’m not.”

For the first time, he saw the look of a personal reaction in Francisco’s eyes, the look of something eager and young. “The only thing that’s wrong in what you said, “ Francisco answered, “is that you permit anyone to call it evil.”

As Dagny leaves, she hears Rearden’s wife talking about the bracelet.

“Oh, yes, of course it’s hideous. But don’t you see? It’s supposed to be priceless. Of course, I’d exchange it for a common diamond bracelet any time, but somehow nobody will offer me one for it, even though it is so very, very valuable. Why? My dear, it’s the first thing ever made of Rearden Metal.”

[Dagny] felt the movement of something [a diamond bracelet] being torn off her wrist, and she heard her own voice saying in the great stillness, very calmly, a voice cold as a skeleton, naked of emotion, “If you are not the coward that I think you are, you will exchange it.”

Lillian agrees to the exchange.

Part 1, Chapter 7

Dagny stands on the new Rio Norte Line as it is built. A bridge over a chasm has worn out and needs to be strengthened or replaced. She is surprised to find Hank Rearden there. He says she’s wasting her money if she tries reinforcing the bridge, that her chief engineer is wrong about the cost to replace the bridge, and that he can build it for 60% less. She asks how. He explains with a notebook sketch. She understands.

“Hank,” she asked, “did you invent this in two days?”

“Hell, no. I ‘invented’ it long before I had Rearden Metal. I figured it out while making steel for bridges. I wanted a metal with which one would be able to do this, among other things.

In New York, Jim Taggart worries that “top experts” from the National Council of Metal Industries (headed by Orren Boyle) say Rearden Metal is brittle, that it will crack suddenly, without warning. Also, the convention of the grade school teachers of New Mexico resolved that children should not be permitted to ride on the new Rio Norte Line of Taggart Transcontinental when it’s completed, because it is unsafe. And Jim is angry that Don Conway won’t sell the track he’s not allowed to use to Taggart. Dagny agrees to defend Rearden Metal at a New York Business Council meeting, but as they drive there he mentions that he has also invited Betram Scudder to debate against her on live radio; she screams in protest and leaves, as Jim, somehow confused about her reaction, futilely tries to stop her.

Meanwhile, the State Science Institute meets Rearden to share their “unfavorable opinion” of the metal due to its “social impact”, and he ignores them.

“At a time of desperate steel shortage, we cannot afford to permit the expansion of a steel company which produces too much, because it might throw out of business the companies which produce too little, thus creating an unbalanced economy…”

The SSI man asks to buy the rights, and offers a blank cheque; he won’t sell.

“The State Science Institute is a government organization, Mr. Rearden. There are certain bills pending in the Legislature, which may be passed at any moment. Businessmen are peculiarly vulnerable these days. I am sure you understand me.”

“No, Dr. Potter,” [Rearden] said, “I don’t understand. If I did, I’d have to kill you.”

Dagny is disgusted by a statement issued by Floyd Ferris of the SSI, saying “It may be possible that after a period of heavy usage, a sudden fissure may appear, though the length of this period cannot be predicted… . The possibility of a molecular reaction, at present unknown, cannot be entirely discounted… . Although the tensile strength of the metal is obviously demonstrable, certain questions in regard to its behavior under unusual stress are not to be ruled out… . Although there is no evidence to support the contention that the use of the metal should be prohibited, a further study of its properties would be of value.”

Dagny visits the head of the SSI, Dr. Stadler, who is happy to see her but says he knows nothing about the statement. When pressed, he admits he is impressed with the metal, but spends minutes evading responsibility for anything the SSI says.

“I was not consulted about that statement!” The cry broke out involuntarily. “I wouldn’t have allowed it! I don’t like it any better than you do! But I can’t issue a public denial!”

“You were not consulted? Then shouldn’t you want to find out the reasons behind that statement?”

“I can’t destroy the Institute now!”

“Shouldn’t you want to find out the reasons?”

“I know the reasons! They won’t tell me, but I know. And I can’t say that I blame them, either.”

“Would you tell me?”

“I’ll tell you, if you wish. It’s the truth that you want, isn’t it? Dr. Ferris cannot help it, if the morons who vote the funds for this Institute insist on what they call results. They are incapable of conceiving of such a thing as abstract science. They can judge it only in terms of the latest gadget it has produced for them. I do not know how Dr. Ferris has managed to keep this Institute in existence, I can only marvel at his practical ability. I don’t believe he ever was a first-rate scientist — but what a priceless valet of science! I know that he has been facing a grave problem lately. He’s kept me out of it, he spares me all that, but I do hear rumors. People have been criticizing the Institute, because, they say, we have not produced enough. The public has been demanding economy. In times like these, when their fat little comforts are threatened, you may be sure that science is the first thing men will sacrifice. This is the only establishment left. There are practically no private research foundations any longer. Look at the greedy ruffians who run our industries. You cannot expect them to support science.”

“Who is supporting you now?” she asked, her voice low.

He shrugged. “Society.”

She said, with effort, “You were going to tell me the reasons behind that statement.”

“I wouldn’t think you’d find them hard to deduce. If you consider that for thirteen years this Institute has had a department of metallurgical research, which has cost over twenty million dollars and has produced nothing but a new silver polish and a new anti-corrosive preparation, which, I believe, is not so good as the old ones — you can imagine what the public reaction will be if some private individual comes out with a product that revolutionizes the entire science of metallurgy and proves to be sensationally successful!”

[…] She sat, her head down. After a while, she said, “All right, Dr. Stadler. I won’t argue.”

Later, Jim is in a panic for reasons that are unclear; somehow Taggart Transcontinental cannot complete the Rio Norte line due to all the slander. Dagny responds with an “ultimatum” that she will personally complete construction by forming a new company and funding it herself, that Eddie Willers will do her job while she’s gone, and that she will give back the line when construction is finished.

Jim agrees. Dagny decides to call her new company “The John Galt Line”. She desperately visits Francisco for a loan to complete the line. Francisco refuses, but she is able to borrow money from the many companies that already rely on Phoenix-Durango’s line, and then Rearden makes his own investment (motived, of course, by profit).

The mysterious collectivist forces in Washington pass the Equalization of Opportunity Bill into law, so Hank Rearden will be forced immediately to sell his secondary businesses such as Rearden Ore. Rearden’s lobbyist, Mr. Mouch, won’t pick up the phone. Tears run silently down his secretary’s cheeks; Rearden calms his anger and comforts her. His mind shifts to the bridge that needs to be built, and in a “Eureka” moment he discovers a “truss that will beat anything ever built”. He calls Dagny immedately to explain that it will “carry four trains at once, stand three hundred years and cost you less than your cheapest culvert.”

Part 1, Chapter 8

Businessman Dwight Sanders suddenly retires and disappears after buying United Locomotives, leaving behind no competent supplier of diesel train engines. A man’s shadow appears in front of Dagny’s temporary office, paces, then leaves without knocking. Rearden signs over his Ore business to Paul Larkin and is offended when Larkin says, “It’s only a legal technicality, Hank,” he said. “You know that I’ll always consider these ore mines as yours.” Rearden knows Taggart Transcontinental is having financial difficulties and volunteers a moratorium on invoices for the metal he sells them. “Why should I collect my money from you now, when it might prove to be the death blow to your company?” Rearden does not ask for interest or expect any other company to give Taggart a break, adding “Don’t you see? I have just received a great deal of money… which I didn’t want. I can’t invest it. It’s of no use to me whatever.” (Rand doesn’t explain why he cannot invest in the stock market.)

Meanwhile, a Union of Locomotive Engineers delegate threatens now to allow any of its workers to work on the line, as the media contintues its scare-mongering about Rearden Metal.

No voices were heard in public in defense of Rearden Metal. And nobody attached significance to the fact that the stock of Taggart Transcontinental was rising on the market, very slowly, almost furtively.”

Taggart Transcontinental asks for volunteers to drive the first train on the new line; “Every engineer on Taggart Transcontinental” volunteers, except one who is in a hospital and one who is in jail.

Dagny and Rearden make a statement to the press about all the profit they intend to make, shocking a reporter who says “I’m sure you didn’t mean it the way it sounds…”.

The new line opens three days before the Phoenix-Durango line closes. They decide to run the very first train, an 80-car freight special, at an average speed of 160 kilometers per hour — sorry, I meant 100 miles per hour. (Not even creeping socialism can make the U.S. switch to metric.)

A massive crowd gathered on the platform in Wyoming to watch the train leave. Dagny and Hank ride in the front engine, while Eddie Willers cuts a ribbon with giant scissors. As the train barrels down the track, they see people zoom by the train with an “odd regularity”, and Dagny realizes that extra armed men with railroad caps had volutunteered to guard the line that day, in addition to the men they had hired for this purpose.

At the end of the line, oilman Ellis Wyatt volunteers to let Hank and Dagny sleep in two guest bedrooms. After dinner, Ellis leaves them alone. You can guess what happens next.

It was like an act of hatred, like the cutting blow of a lash encircling her body: she felt his arms around her, she felt her legs pulled forward against him and her chest bent back under the pressure of his, his mouth on hers. Her hand moved from his shoulders to his waist to his legs, releasing the unconfessed desire of her every meeting with him.

Part 1, Chapter 9

The morning after, Hank explains that “What I feel for you is contempt. But it’s nothing, compared to the contempt I feel for myself. I don’t love you. I’ve never loved anyone. I wanted you from the first moment I saw you. I wanted you as one wants a whore — for the same reason and purpose. I spent two years damning myself, because I thought you were above a desire of this kind. You’re not. You’re as vile an animal as I am.” After his monologue, she bursts out laughing “in joyous amusement”, and delivers a monologue of her own. “I am an animal who wants nothing but that sensation of pleasure which you despise–but I want it from you. You’d give up any height of virtue for it, while I — I haven’t any to give up. […] You don’t have to fear that you’re now dependent upon me. It’s I who will depend on any whim of yours. You’ll have me any time you wish, anywhere, on any. terms.” It’s all very sexy, so they have more sex.

The media does an instant 180 and celebrates the new John Galt (Rio Norte) Line. (If you’re waiting for Rand to reveal why the media speaks as one unified voice and always supports government policy, don’t bother, she won’t.) Meanwhile, Jim Taggart visits a dime store on his way home, and the young cashier Cherryl Brooks is in awe to meet the president of TT, largely having mistaken Dagny’s accomplishments for his (largely thanks to media misrepresentation). Enjoying the flattery, he asks her on a date, much of which he spends complaining about Dagny, and badmouthing his friends. Cherryl doesn’t know what he’s talking about, but remains in awe.

Arriving home in New York, Dagny isn’t surprised when Rearden shows up at her apartment. After Rearden and Dagny explain to each other how happy and overwhelmed they are with new orders, they enjoy another helping of sex.

Meanwhile, Vaguely Socialist Businessman Mr. Mowen is complaining in the presence of Owen Kellogg, who describes himself as “transient labor” but had earlier turned down an important position offered by Dagny. Mowen is unhappy that companies are moving to Colorado along the Rio Norte line. “I don’t see it. It’s a backward, primitive, unenlightened place. They don’t even have a modern government. It’s the worst government in any state. The laziest. It does nothing — outside of keeping law courts and a police department.”

After merging her John Galt Line back into Taggart Transcontinental as promised, Dagny and Hank take a vacation secretly together in Wisconsin. After discussing the difficulty of finding any supplier of machine parts, they decide to look for an old factory formerly owned by the bankrupt Twentieth Century Motor Company (TCMC). Surrounding it is a town without electricity, most of its residents gone, in such disrepair it is impossible to reach the factory by car.

Inside the factory, Dagny discovers coil on a badly damaged piece of equipment, with many pieces missing, which she recognizes from her school years as some kind of motor design that was given up as impossible long ago: “a motor that would draw static electricity from the atmosphere, convert it and create its own power as it went along.”

“Hank! Don’t you understand what this means? It’s the greatest revolution in power motors since the internal-combustion engine — greater than that! It wipes everything out — and makes everything possible.”

Dagny finds a few pages of notes about the motor in the rubble and concludes from these that the motor really worked (it’s unclear how she can be sure of something so implausible). Hank concludes the inventor is dead: “Would he abandon an achievement of this size?” They begin the search for the inventor anyway.

Part 1, Chapter 10

Dagny puts the destroyed motor in a vault in a tunnel under Taggart Terminal in NYC and sends her two most telented engineers back to Wisconsin to for a second search of the factory and to find information (they find nothing).

Eddie warns Dagny “I think they’re planning to kill Colorado”. Workers’ unions demand limits of 60 mph and 60 cars on the Rio Norte line; surrounding states demand that Colorado not run more trains than they do; laws are proposed to prevent steel mills from producing more than others of equal size, to allocate Rearden Metal equally to every customer, to forbit companies from moving between states, and Wesley Mouch requests “emergency powers”.

(What’s the motive for all this red tape? Limiting train size is meant to create more jobs for railroad men, though it won’t work since there aren’t enough engines available, but that’s all Rand says.)

Rearden Ore fails to deliver ore to Rearden for a month; Larkin first avoids talking to Rearden, then blames a rainstorm for the problem, then admits he gave all the ore to Orren Boyle because of his “social and patriotic responsibilities”. Rearden tries making “unenforceable contracts” with untrusted small-time suppliers instead.

Rearden has been avoiding his wife for months. Visiting his room, she explains the value of dishonesty:

“[…] Suppose I wanted to tell you about the new novel which Balph Eubank is writing — he is dedicating it to me — would that interest you?”

“If it’s the truth that you want — not in the least.”

She laughed. “And if it’s not the truth that I want?”

[…] “Why would you want it, if it’s not the truth?” he asked. “What for?”

“[…] You wouldn’t understand it — would you? — if I answered that real devotion consists of being willing to lie, cheat and fake in order to make another person happy — to create for him the reality he wants, if he doesn’t like the one that exists.”

“No,” he said slowly, “I wouldn’t understand it.”

“It’s really very simple. If you tell a beautiful woman that she is beautiful, what have you given her? It’s no more than a fact and it has cost you nothing. But if you tell an ugly woman that she is beautiful, you offer her the great homage of corrupting the concept of beauty. To love a woman for her virtues is meaningless. She’s earned it, it’s a payment, not a gift. But to love her for her vices is a real gift, unearned and undeserved. To love her for her vices is to defile all virtue for her sake — and that is a real tribute of love, because you sacrifice your conscience, your reason, your integrity and your invaluable self-esteem.”

He looked at her blankly. It sounded like some sort of monstrous corruption that precluded the possibility of wondering whether anyone could mean it; he wondered only what was the point of uttering it.

“What’s love, darling, if it’s not self-sacrifice?” she went on lightly, in the tone of a drawing-room discussion. “What’s self-sacrifice, unless one sacrifices that which is one’s most precious and most important?

She’s puzzled that he seems more relaxed despite all the trouble he’s having.

“A wife expects to be the first concern of her husband’s existence. I didn’t know that when you swore to forsake all others, it didn’t include blast furnaces.”

She slips her arms around him; he throws her aside; she’s bewildered; they discuss the meaning of life:

“Lillian, what purpose do you live for?” he asked.

“What a crude question! No enlightened person would ever ask it.”

“Well, what is it that enlightened people do with their lives?”

“Perhaps they do not attempt to do anything. That is their enlightenment.”

“What do they do with their time?”

“They certainly don’t spend it on manufacturing plumbing pipes.”

She asked, her voice dry, “What’s the purpose of the sudden questionnaire? “

He answered simply, “I’d like to know whether there’s anything that you really want. If there is, I’d like to give it to you, if I can.”

“You’d like to buy it? That’s all you know — paying for things. You get off easily, don’t you? No, it’s not as simple as that. What I want is non-material.”

“What is it?”


“How do you mean that, Lillian? You don’t mean it in the gutter sense.”

“No, not in the gutter sense.”

“How, then?”

[…] “You wouldn’t understand it,” she said and walked out.

Dagny follows a trail toward the inventor of the motor. She speaks to Eugene Lawson, who ran Community National Bank of Madison into the ground by making foolish loans (and now makes unprompted remarks about how moral he his and how she shouldn’t despise him). Lawson leads her to Lee Hunsacker, president of the company that bought the bankrupt TCMC factory, who makes unprompted remarks about how nothing is his fault. He explains that he sued banker Midas Mulligan for a loan, based on a new “emergency” law saying “people were forbidden to discriminate for any reason whatever”, and the proof of discrimination was that Mulligan said he wasn’t qualified to run a vegetable pushcart. Judge Narragansett ruled against Hunsacker, but he won on appeal. Lee Hunsaker gives her a lead in Durance, Louisiana, where the three heirs of Jed Starnes, original owner of TCMC, lived. Ivy Starnes explains the “great, new plan” based on “From each according to his ability, to each according to his need”, which quickly destroyed the company. Dagny learns from Ivy that the chief engineer was William Hastings. William is dead, but his wife remembers a diner in the rocky mountains where she once saw a man whom she had once seen standing beside the inventor of the motor.

In the diner, the cook is skilled and she offers him $10,000 a year to work in New York (since dollar values all seem to be stated in 1957 dollars, this should be about $91,000 in 2020 dollars). He refuses. He admits to knowing the motor’s inventor, but won’t give any information about him. She asks the cook for his name. It’s Hugh Akston.

“Hugh Akston?” she stammered. “The philosopher? … The last of the advocates of reason?”

[…] “But … but what are you doing here?” Her arm swept at the room. “This doesn’t make sense!”

“I’m earning my living.” … “Give it up, Miss Taggart. It is a hopeless quest, the more hopeless because you have no inkling of what an impossible task you have chosen to undertake.”

He gives her a cigarette, and as she leaves, notices its unusual flavor and brand (a golden dollar sign). She puts it out and later gives it to a cigarette connoisseur in Taggart Terminal, who has never seen the brand before.

At a TT train station she sees a newspaper:

Wesley Mouch, Top Co-ordinator of the Bureauof Economic Planning and National Resources, “in a surprise move,” said the paper, “and in the name of the national emergency,” had issued a set of directives, which were strung in a column down the page:

The railroads of the country were 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 — and to run the same number of trains in every state of a zone composed of five neighboring states, the country being divided into such zones for the purpose.

The steel mills of the country were ordered to limit the maximum production of any metal alloy to an amount equal to the production of other metal alloys by other mills placed in the same classification of plant capacity — and to supply a fair share of any metal alloy to all consumers who might desire to obtain it.

All the manufacturing establishments of the country, of any size and nature, were forbidden to move from their present locations, except when granted a special permission to do so by the Bureau of Economic Planning and National Resources.

To compensate the railroads of the country for the extra costs involved and “to cushion the process of readjustment,” a moratorium on payments of interest and principal on all railroad bonds — secured and unsecured, convertible and non-convertible — was declared for a period of five years.

To provide the funds for the personnel to enforce these directives, a special tax was imposed on the state of Colorado, “as the state best able to assist the needier states to bear the brunt of the national emergency, “ such tax to consist of five per cent of the gross sales of Colorado’s industrial concerns.

(What “national emergency” is there? Apparently it’s the gradual worsening of the economy. Why have directives been chosen that will obviously make the economy worse? The book doesn’t clearly explain, but having reading the rest of the book, my guess is that the directives are bad because it’s an evil, collectivist government produced as a result of the evil, collectivist school system which corrupted the minds of the current generation of humans.)

Dagny remembers what Ellis Wyatt of Colorado once said, demanding transportation before the Phoenix-Durango closed: “It is now in your power to destroy me; I may have to go; but if I go, I’ll make sure that I take all the rest of you along with me”. Realizing he would react badly to the news, she frantically tries to reach him from a telephone booth. There is no answer.

As she sits slumped on train 57 on its Rearden Metal track, it makes a sudden stop.

[…] she knew that she had known that which she was to see. In a break between mountains, lighting the sky, throwing a glow that swayed on the roofs and walls of the station, the hill of Wyatt Oil was a solid sheet of flame.

Later, when they told her that Ellis Wyatt had vanished, leaving nothing behind but a board he had nailed to a post at the foot of the hill, when she looked at his handwriting on the board, she felt as if she had almost known that these would be the words: “I am leaving it as I found it. Take over. It’s yours.”

Summary of PART II: “EITHER - OR”

Part 2, Chapter 1

Six months later, Dr. Stadler, head of the State Science Institute (SSI), is annoyed after a 5-day power outage, and more annoyed by Floyd Ferris’s new book, published by the SSI:

“The more we know, the more we learn that we know nothing.”

“Only the crassest ignoramus can still hold to the old-fashioned notion that seeing is believing. That which you see is the first thing to disbelieve.”

“A scientist knows that a stone is not a stone at all. It is, in fact, identical with a feather pillow. Both are only a cloud formation of the same invisible, whirling particles. But, you say, you can’t use a stone for a pillow? Well, that merely proves your helplessness in the face of actual reality.”

“The latest scientific discoveries — such as the tremendous achievements of Dr. Robert Stadler— have demonstrated conclusively that our reason is incapable of dealing with the nature of the universe. These discoveries have led scientists to contradictions which are impossible, according to the human mind, but which exist in reality nonetheless.

If you have not yet heard it, my dear old-fashioned friends, it has now been proved that the rational is the insane.”

“Do not expect consistency. Everything is a contradiction of everything else. Nothing exists but contradictions.”

Ferris, who appears late for the meeting Stadler requested, mentions he’s in charge of reclaiming the Wyatt oil fields.

“That was … wait a moment … that was the man who set fire to his own oil wells.”

“I’m inclined to believe that that’s a rumor created by public hysteria,” said Dr. Ferris dryly. […]

They haven’t produced any oil but most of the fires are out. Stadler asks about “Project X”,

“[….] The work has to do with sound. But I am sure that it would not interest you. It is a purely technological undertaking.”

“Yes, do spare me the story. I have no time for your technological undertakings.”

“May I suggest that it would be advisable to refrain from mentioning the words ‘Project X’ to anyone, Dr. Stadler?”

“Oh, all right, all right. I must say I do not enjoy discussions of that kind. “

Stadler asks about the book. Ferris says it is unscientific because it is meant for the general public.

“But, good God! The feeblest imbecile should be able to see the glaring contradictions in every one of your statements.”

“This book […] has a great psychological value. […] You see, Dr. Stadler, people don’t want to think. And the deeper they get into trouble, the less they want to think. But by some sort of instinct, they feel that they ought to and it makes them feel guilty. So they’ll bless and follow anyone who gives them a justification for not thinking. Anyone who makes a virtue — a highly intellectual virtue — out of what they know to be their sin, their weakness and their guilt.”

“And you propose to pander to that?”

“That is the road to popularity.”

“Why should you seek popularity?”

[…] “We are a public institution,” he answered evenly, “supported by public funds.”

“So you tell people that science is a futile fraud which ought to be abolished!”

“That is a conclusion which could be drawn, in logic, from my book. But that is not the conclusion they will draw.”

[…] “I am unable to understand the attention you received in all the reputable academic magazines and how they could permit themselves to discuss your book seriously. If Hugh Akston were around, no academic publication would have dared to treat this as a work admissible into the realm of philosophy.”

“He is not around. […] On the other hand,” said Dr, Ferris, “the ads for my book — oh, I’m sure you wouldn’t notice such things as ads — quote a letter of high praise which I received from Mr. Wesley Mouch.”

“Who the hell is Mr. Wesley Mouch? […] I don’t see any practical purpose in your book. I don’t see what it’s intended to accomplish.”

“Don’t you?” Dr. Ferris’s eyes flickered briefly to his face; the sparkle of insolence was too swift to be identified with certainty.

“I cannot permit myself to consider certain things as possible in a civilized society,” Dr. Stadler said sternly.

“That is admirably exact,” said Dr. Ferris cheerfully. “You cannot permit yourself.”

[…] [Stadler] had not said that he would denounce the book in public and repudiate it in the name of the Institute. He had not said it, because he had been afraid to discover that the threat would leave Ferris unmoved, that Ferris was safe, that the word of Dr. Robert Stadler had no power any longer.

Dagny Taggart asks for an appointment to see Stadler, who is so happy he pretends he was going to New York today anyway.

Dagny’s crossing out another Colorado train on the schedule. Lawrence Hammond had retired; Andrew Stockton had closed his plant and vanished; any cars still on the roads “moved like travelers in the desert […] past the skeletons of cars that had collapsed on duty. […] But there were men still able to get oil, by means of friendships that nobody cared to question.”

“No, Miss Taggart, I can’t explain it,” the sister of Andrew Stockton had told her on her last trip to Colorado, two months ago. “He never said a word to me and I don’t even know whether he’s dead or living, same as Ellis Wyatt. […] I remember only that some man came to see him on that last evening. […] They talked late into the night — when I went to sleep, the light was still burning in Andrew’s study.”

[…] One well, on the crest of the hill, was still burning. People called it Wyatt’s Torch.

[…] It took every scrap of her energy to keep trains running through the sections where they were still needed, in the areas that were still producing. But on the balance sheets of Taggart Transcontinental, the checks of Jim’s subsidies for empty trains bore larger figures than the profit brought by the best freight train of the busiest industrial division. Jim boasted that this had been the most prosperous six months in Taggart history.

[…] Nobody professed to understand the question of the frozen railroad bonds; perhaps, because everybody understood it too well. At first, there had been signs of a panic among the bondholders and of a dangerous indignation among the public. Then, Wesley Mouch had issued another directive, which ruled that people could get their bonds “defrozen” upon a plea of “essential need”: the government would purchase the bonds, if it found the proof of the need satisfactory. There were three questions that no one answered or asked: “What constituted proof?” “What constituted need?” “Essential — to whom?”

Dagny had called Dr. Stadler as a last resort, after she “tried to find a scientist able to attempt the reconstruction of the motor”. Unfortunately, “the men recommended to her as the best in their field” were “hopeless”. One even said “I don’t think that such a motor should ever be made, even if somebody did learn how to make it. It would be so superior to anything we’ve got that it would be unfair to lesser scientists, because it would leave no field for their achievements and abilities.”

Dr. Stadler arrives. He reads the “remnant of the manuscript” she had found.

They had been silent for over an hour, when he finished and looked up at her. “But this is extraordinary!” he said in the joyous, astonished tone of announcing some news she had not expected.

She wished she could smile in answer and grant him the comradeship of a joy celebrated together, but she merely nodded and said coldly, “Yes.”

“But, Miss Taggart, this is tremendous!”


“Did you say it’s a matter of technology? It’s more, much, much more than that. The pages where he writes about his converter — you can see what premise he’s speaking from. He arrived at some new concept of energy. He discarded all our standard assumptions, according to which his motor would have been impossible. He formulated a new premise of his own and he solved the secret of converting static energy into kinetic power. Do you know what that means? Do you realize what a feat of pure, abstract science he had to perform before he could make his motor?”

[… Stadler continued,] “Did you say you found this in the research laboratory of a plain, commercial motor factory?”


“That’s odd. What was he doing in such a place?”

“Designing a motor.”

“That’s what I mean. A man with the genius of a great scientist, who chose to be a commercial inventor? I find it outrageous. He wanted a motor, and he quietly performed a major revolution in the science of energy, just as a means to an end, and he didn’t bother to publish his findings, but went right on making his motor. Why did he want to waste his mind on practical appliances?”

“Perhaps because he liked living on this earth,” she said involuntarily.

“I beg your pardon?”

(Ahh, but of course, an important discovery in the abstract field of fundamental physics, could only happen at a private company in Rand’s world: on principle, Rand’s heroes wouldn’t be willing to work at a publicly-funded university.)

Stadler doesn’t know of any scientist who might have been able to invent the motor, nor anyone who could figure out how it worked.

“I wish I could help you,” he said, as to a comrade. “I most selfishly wish I could help you, because, you see, this has been my hardest problem — trying to find men of talent for my own staff. Talent, hell! I’d be satisfied with just a semblance of promise [….]”

He asks to see the motor out of “personal curiosity”.

“It’s so wonderful,” said Dr. Stadler, his voice low. “It’s so wonderful to see a great, new, crucial idea which is not mine!” … “Miss Taggart, do you know the hallmark of the second-rater? It’s resentment of another man’s achievement. Those touchy mediocrities […] have no inkling of the loneliness that comes when you reach the top. The loneliness for an equal — for a mind to respect and an achievement to admire. They bare their teeth at you from out of their rat holes, thinking that you take pleasure in letting your brilliance dim them — while you’d give a year of your life to see a flicker of talent anywhere among them. […] They have no way of knowing what he feels when surrounded by inferiors — […] terrible, hopeless, draining, paralyzing boredom. […] Have you ever felt the longing for someone you could admire? For something, not to look down at, but up to?”

“I’ve felt it all my life,” she said. It was an answer she could not refuse him.

[…] “I knew it the first time I spoke to you. That was why I came today. Well, that was why I wanted to see the motor.”

“Miss Taggart,” he said, his eyes lowered, looking at the glass case, “I know a man who might be able to undertake the reconstruction of that motor. He would not work for me — so he is probably the kind of man you want.”

It’s a physicist from the Utah Institute of Technology, Quentin Daniels, and Stadler offers to help with the theoretical part of the work. On the way out, they hear a worker say “Who is John Galt?” Stadler says, “I knew a John Galt once. Only he died long ago.”

“Who was he?”

“I used to think that he was still alive. But now I’m certain that he must have died. He had such a mind that, had he lived, the whole world would have been talking of him by now.”

“But the whole world is talking of him.”

He stopped still. “Yes …” he said slowly, staring at a thought that had never struck him before, “yes … Why?” The word was heavy with the sound of terror.

Hank Rearden thinks of the black market where “their profit on a ton of Rearden Metal was five times larger than his own”. He receives an order for 10,000 tons of Rearden Metal from the SSI for Project X. He refuses to sell, especially since, “At the present rate of the mills’ production, the applications [for Rearden Metal] extended well into the next century.” A “young boy” from Washington, whom the steel workers had nicknamed the Wet Nurse, was there to ensure the mill doesn’t produce too much.

“Mr. Rearden,” said the Wet Nurse, when he heard about the rejected order, “you shouldn’t have done that.”

“Why not?”

“There’s going to be trouble.”

[…] “What kind of a project is it?”

“I don’t know. It’s secret.”

“Then how do you know it’s important?”

[…] “You can’t doubt such a thing as that, Mr. Rearden!”

[…] “If I can’t, then that would make it an absolute and you said there aren’t any absolutes.”

“That’s different.”

“How is it different?”

“It’s the government.”

Sure enough a man comes a week later to ask him to sell. Rearden says “I would not sell any Rearden Metal to the State Science Institute for any purpose whatever, good or bad, secret or open.”

“But why?”

“Listen,” said Rearden slowly, “there might be some sort of justification for the savage societies in which a man had to expect that enemies could murder him at any moment and had to defend himself as best he could. But there can be no justification for a society in which a man is expected to manufacture the weapons for his own murderers.”

[…] “As a matter of fact, the law does not permit you to refuse to sell your Metal to any consumer, let alone the government.”

“Well, why don’t you arrest me, then?”

“Mr. Rearden, this is an amicable discussion. Why speak of such things as arrests?”

[…] “I am not helping you to pretend that this is any sort of amicable discussion. It isn’t. Now do what you please about it. […] Don’t print out a check to me. It won’t be cashed. If you want that Metal, you have the guns to seize it. Go ahead.”

“Good God, Mr. Rearden, what would the public think!”

Dagny sits in her appointment, waiting for Hank to show up, thinking of his previous visits. She thinks of all the various gifts he has given her, such as a ruby pendant that “only a dozen men in the world could properly afford to purchase; he was not one of them.”

“I like giving things to you,” he said, “because you don’t need them.”

[…] “Hank … why?”

[…] “Do you think a man should give jewelry to his mistress for any purpose but his own pleasure?” he asked. “This is the way I want you to wear it. Only for me. I like to look at it. It’s beautiful,”

[…] on his way to her apartment, Rearden [felt a] sense of revulsion that […] was new to him — this feeling that the world was a loathsome place where he did not want to belong.

He had held a conference with the producers of copper, who had just been garroted by a set of directives that would put them out of existence in another year. He had had no advice to give them, no solution to offer; his ingenuity […] had not been able to discover a way to save them.

[…] in a sudden shock, he realized that he felt no desire to sleep with [Dagny] tonight. That desire — which had never given him a moment’s rest […] — was wiped out.

[…] “Dagny, they’re doing something that we’ve never understood. They know something which we don’t, but should discover. I can’t see it fully yet, but I’m beginning to see parts of it. That looter from the State Science Institute was scared when I refused to help him pretend that he was just an honest buyer of my Metal. He was scared way deep. Of what? I don’t know — […] he could have seized the whole of my mills, if he wished, and nobody would have risen to defend me, and he knew it — so why should he have cared what I thought? But he did.

It was I who had to tell him that he wasn’t a looter, but my customer and friend. That’s what he needed from me. And that’s what Dr. Stadler needed from you […]. They need some sort of sanction from us […]. I know that if we value our lives, we must not give it to them.

“Yes …” she said, “[…] It’s some sort of fraud, very ancient and very vast — and the key to break it is: to check every premise they teach us, to question every precept, to —”

Suddenly, his sex drive returns.

[…] he felt also the unadmitted knowledge that that which he had called her depravity was her highest virtue — this capacity of hers to feel the joy of being, as he felt it.

Part 2, Chapter 2 (The Wedding: Sept. 2)

One by one, the men who had built new towns in Colorado, had departed into some silent unknown, from which no voice or person had yet returned. The towns they had left were dying.

There had been a pattern about it, which [Dagny] felt, but could not define; she had become able to predict, almost with certainty, who would go next and when; she was unable to grasp the “why?”

Ted Nielsen said he hoped he wasn’t the next one to go.

“Dagny, I’ve always thought that I’d rather die than stop working. But so did the men who’re gone. […] A month ago, Roger Marsh, of Marsh Electric, told me that he’d have himself chained to his desk, so that he wouldn’t be able to leave it, no matter what ghastly temptation struck him. He was furious with anger at the men who’d left. He swore to me that he’d never do it. ‘And if it’s something that I can’t resist,’ he said, ‘I swear that I’ll keep enough of my mind to leave you a letter and give you some hint of what it is, so that you won’t have to rack your brain in the kind of dread we’re both feeling now.’ That’s what he swore. Two weeks ago, he went. He left me no letter.”

It seemed to her that some destroyer was moving soundlessly through the country […]. That was the enemy […] with whom she was running a race.

Quentin Daniels had refused to work for Dr. Stadler because “‘Governmental scientific inquiry’ is a contradiction in terms”. He’s working as a “night watchman” at the “Utah Institute of Technology [which] closed for lack of funds”, so he can use the lab that was left behind.

“For what purpose?”

“For my own pleasure.”

[…] “Haven’t you any desire to be of service to humanity?”

“I don’t talk that kind of language, Miss Taggart. I don’t think you do, either.”

She laughed. “I think we’ll get along together, you and I.”

When she had told him the story of the motor, when he had studied the manuscript, he made no comment, but merely said that he would take the job on any terms she named.

She asked him to choose his own terms. She protested, in astonishment, against the low monthly salary he quoted. “Miss Taggart,” he said, “if there’s something that I won’t take, it’s something for nothing. […] I don’t collect for an intention. But I sure do intend to collect for goods delivered. If I succeed, that’s when I’ll skin you alive, because what I want then is a percentage, and it’s going to be high, but it’s going to be worth your while.” (I’m not sure how this will work when a percentage is not agreed in advance. If the intellectual property will belong to him, what is she buying right now?)

They agreed that it was to be her private project and that he was to be her private employee; neither of them wanted to have to deal with the interference of the Taggart Research Department. He asked to remain in Utah. […]

Once a month, since his return to Utah, she had sent him a check and he had sent her a report on his work. It was too early to hope, but his reports were the only bright points in the stagnant fog of her days in the office.

[…] Then, noticing the date, she remembered suddenly that she had to rush home to dress, because she had to attend Jim’s wedding tonight.

On the way, the cigarette connoisseur says “I have inquired all over the world. I have checked every source of information in and about the tobacco industry. I have had that cigarette stub put through a chemical analysis. There is no plant that manufactures that kind of paper. The flavoring elements in that tobacco have never been used in any smoking mixture I could find. That cigarette was machine-made, but it was not made in any factory I know — and I know them all.”

Rearden has a secret meeting with Ken Danagger to sell 4,000 tons of Rearden Metal, which he will to prevent his coal mines from caving in, so that he can supply TT with coal.

“[…] there’s one customer I don’t dare leave without coal — and that’s Taggart Transcontinental. I keep thinking of what would happen if the railroads collapsed.” He had stopped, then added, “I don’t know why I still care about that, but I do.” […] “If any employee of yours or mine discovers this and attempts private blackmail, I will pay it, within reason. But I will not pay, if he has friends in Washington. If any of those come around, then I go to jail.”

“Then we go together,” Rearden said.

Lillian appears unexpectedly at Rearden’s room in the Wayne-Falkland Hotel. She wants to go out.

He thought that Dagny would be at her brother’s wedding tonight; the evening did not matter to him any longer. “I’ll take you out, if you wish,” he said, “but not to that wedding.”

But that’s where she wants to go, and is not pleased that he’s avoided her for so long.

“How long do you wish me to exist somewhere in the basement of your life? […] I’ve asked nothing of you. I’ve let you live your life as you pleased. Can’t you give me one evening? […] Call it empty, social vanity — I want to appear, for once, with my husband. I suppose you never think of it in such terms, but you’re an important man, you’re envied, hated, respected and feared, you’re a man whom any woman would be proud to show off as her husband.

“[…] Can’t you be strong enough to fulfill your obligation and to perform a husband’s duty? Can’t you go there, not for your own sake, but mine, not because you want to go, but only because I want it?”

Dagny — he thought desperately — […] he could not appear before her with his wife, he could not let her see him as the husband being proudly shown off — he wished he could die now, […] before he committed this action — because he knew that he would commit it.

Jim had returned for a second date with Cheryl Brooks two weeks after the first, and more often after that. “Miss Brooks works in the dime store in Madison Square,” he would tell everyone.

Had he wished, she would have given him the only kind of payment she could offer in return. She was grateful that he did not seek it. But she felt as if their relationship was an immense debt and she had nothing to pay it with, except her silent worship. He did not need her worship, she thought.

In private, he seemed to enjoy complaining about everyone else to her.

[…] She could understand little of it, but she understood that he was unhappy and that somebody had hurt him.

“The only way to be worthy of him, she thought, was never to ask him for anything. He offered her money once, and she refused it, with such a bright, painful flare of anger in her eyes that he did not attempt it again. The anger was at herself: she wondered whether she had done something to make him think she was that kind of person.”

He takes her to a fancy party; she buys the best dress she can afford, but doesn’t feel like she fits in. Afterward:

[…] On the stoop of her rooming house, she said to him forlornly, “I’m sorry if I let you down …”

He did not answer for a moment, and then he asked, “What would you say if I asked you to marry me?”

[…] Then this was the way they reached their first kiss — with tears running down her face, tears unshed at the party, tears of shock, of happiness, of thinking that this should be happiness, and of a low, desolate voice telling her that this was not the way she would have wanted it to happen.

At the wedding, Jim Taggart and all his Washington-friendly friends are networking. Someone tells him Mr. Mouch couldn’t come:

[…] “crucial national problems, you know.” Taggart stood still, did not answer and frowned.

Orren Boyle burst out laughing. Taggart turned to him so sharply that the others melted away without waiting for a command to vanish. “What do you think you’re doing?” snapped Taggart.

“Having a good time, Jimmy, just having a good time,” said Boyle. “Wesley is your boy, wasn’t he?”

“I know somebody who’s my boy and he’d better not forget it.”

“[…] if it’s not Larkin that you’re talking about, why then I think you ought to be careful in your use of the possessive pronouns. I don’t mind the age classification, I know I look young for my years, but I’m just allergic to pronouns.”

“That’s very smart, but you’re going to get too smart one of these days.”

“If I do, you just go ahead and make the most of it, Jimmy. If.”

“The trouble with people who overreach themselves is that they have short memories. You’d better remember who got Rearden Metal choked off the market for you.”

“Why, I remember who promised to. That was the party who then pulled every string he could lay his hands on to try to prevent that particular directive from being issued, because he figured he might need rail of Rearden Metal in the future.”

“Because you spent ten thousand dollars pouring liquor into people you hoped would prevent the directive about the bond moratorium!”

“That’s right. So I did. I had friends who had railroad bonds. And besides, I have friends in Washington, too, Jimmy. Well, your friends beat mine on that moratorium business, but mine beat yours on Rearden Metal — and I’m not forgetting it. But what the hell! — it’s all right with me, that’s the way to share things around, only don’t you try to fool me, Jimmy. Save the act for the suckers.”

“If you don’t believe that I’ve always tried to do my best for you—”

“Sure, you have. The best that could be expected, all things considered. And you’ll continue to do it, too, so long as I’ve got somebody you need — and not a minute longer. So I just wanted to remind you that I’ve got my own friends in Washington. Friends that money can’t buy — just like yours, Jimmy.”

“What do you think you mean?”

“Just what you’re thinking. The ones you buy aren’t really worth a damn, because somebody can always offer them more, so the field’s wide open to anybody and it’s just like old-fashioned competition again. But if you get the goods on a man, then you’ve got him, then there’s no higher bidder and you can count on his friendship. Well, you have friends, and so have I. You have friends I can use, and vice versa. That’s all right with me — what the hell! — one’s got to trade something. If we don’t trade money — and the age of money is past — then we trade men.”

“What is it you’re driving at?”

“Why, I’m just telling you a few things that you ought to remember. Now take Wesley, for instance. You promised him the assistant’s job in the Bureau of National Planning — for double-crossing Rearden, at the time of the Equalization of Opportunity Bill. You had the connections to do it, and that’s what I asked you to do — in exchange for the Anti-dog-eat-dog Rule, where I had the connections. So Wesley did his part, and you saw to it that you got it all on paper — oh sure, I know that you’ve got written proof of the kind of deals he pulled to help pass that bill, while he was taking Rearden’s money to defeat it and keeping Rearden off guard. They were pretty ugly deals. It would be pretty messy for Mr. Mouch, if it all came out in public. So you kept your promise and you got the job for him, because you thought you had him. And so you did. And he paid off pretty handsomely, didn’t he? But it works only just so long. After a while, Mr. Wesley Mouch might get to be so powerful and the scandal so old, that nobody will care how he got his start or whom he double-crossed. Nothing lasts forever. Wesley was Rearden’s man, and then he was your man, and he might be somebody else’s man tomorrow.”

“Are you giving me a hint?”

“Why no, I’m giving you a friendly warning. We’re old friends.

Jimmy, and I think that that’s what we ought to remain. I think we can be very useful to each other, you and I, if you don’t start getting the wrong ideas about friendship. Me — I believe in a balance of power.”

Cherryl approaches Dagny.

“There’s something I want you to know,” said Cherryl, her voice taut and harsh, “so that there won’t be any pretending about it. I’m not going to put on the sweet relative act. I know what you’ve done to Jim and how you’ve made him miserable all his life. I’m going to protect him against you. I’ll put you in your place. I’m Mrs. Taggart. I’m the woman in this family now.”

“That’s quite all right,” said Dagny. “I’m the man.”

Lillian approaches Jim and asks him how he likes the wedding gift she’s giving him: the gift of Rearden being present at his wedding.

“I’m … surprised, Lillian.”

“Shouldn’t you say ‘impressed’? Your guests are quite impressed. I can practically hear them thinking all over the room. Most of them are thinking: ‘If he has to seek terms with Jim Taggart, we’d better toe the line. ‘ And a few are thinking: ‘If he’s afraid, we’ll get away with much more.’ This is as you want it, of course — and I wouldn’t think of spoiling your triumph — but you and I are the only ones who know that you didn’t achieve it single-handed.”

[…] “What’s your angle?”

“[…] It’s just a favor I’ve done you, and I need no favor in return. […] If you had the most powerful horse in the world, you would keep it bridled down to the gait required to carry you in comfort, even though this meant the sacrifice of its full capacity, even though its top speed would never be seen and its great power would be wasted. You would do it — because if you let the horse go full blast, it would throw you off in no time… . However, financial aspects are not my chief concern — nor yours, Jim.”

“I did underestimate you,” he said slowly.

“Oh, well, that’s an error I’m willing to help you correct. […] Well, what I wanted you to know is that I can deliver him, any time I choose. You may act accordingly.”

Lillian notices the Rearden metal bracelet on Dagny (which Dagny wears in public only because Hank asked her to), and approaches her. Rearden wants to overhear the conversation and approaches. Lillian wants the bracelet back; Dagny refuses.

“if your brilliant — and reckless — courage permits you to gamble with your reputation, should you ignore the danger to Mr. Rearden?”

Dagny asked slowly, “What is the danger to Mr. Rearden?”

“I’m sure you understand me.”

“I don’t.”

“Oh, but surely it isn’t necessary to be more explicit.”

“It is — if you wish to continue this discussion.”

“Miss Taggart” she said, “I am not your equal in philosophical altitude. I am only an average wife. Please give me that bracelet — if you do not wish me to think what I might think and what you wouldn’t want me to name.”

“Mrs. Rearden, is this the manner and place in which you choose to suggest that I am sleeping with your husband?”

“Certainly not!” The cry was immediate; it had a sound of panic and the quality of an automatic reflex. […] “That would be the possibility farthest from my mind.”

“Then you will please apologize to Miss Taggart,” said Rearden.

[…] “It isn’t necessary, Hank,” [Dagny] said.

“It is — for me,” he answered coldly […]

[…] “But of course. […] Please accept my apology, Miss Taggart, if I gave you the impression that I suspected the existence of a relationship which I would consider […] impossible for my husband.”

She turned and walked away indifferently, leaving them together, as if in deliberate proof of her words.

[…] “Whatever is the worst you may wish to say to me, you will be right.”

[…] “Dearest, don’t torture yourself like that,” she said. “I knew that you’re married. I’ve never tried to evade that knowledge. I’m not hurt by it tonight, “

Her first word was the most violent of the several blows he felt: she had never used that word before.

Francisco d’Anconia appears unexpectedly and comments on how funny it is that the people in the room were trying to hide their large investments in d’Anconia Copper behind stooges.

“A great many investors — the old-fashioned sort — dropped me after the San Sebastian Mines. It scared them away. But the modern ones had more faith in me and acted as they always do — on faith.”

“You’ve done me a great favor — you and your boys in Washington and the boys in Santiago. Only I wonder why none of you took the trouble to inform me about it. Those directives that somebody issued here a few months ago are choking off the entire copper industry of this country. […] And where in the world is there any copper left — unless it’s d’Anconia copper? So you see that I have good reason to be grateful.”

“I assure you I had nothing to do with it,” Taggart said hastily, “and besides, the vital economic policies of this country are not determined by any considerations such as you’re intimating or — “

“I know how they’re determined, James. I know that the deal started with the boys in Santiago […]. Our boys in Santiago call it taxes. They’ve been getting their cut on every ton of d’Anconia copper sold. So they have a vested interest to see me sell as many tons as possible. But with the world turning into People’s States, this is the only country left where men are not yet reduced to digging for roots in forests for their sustenance — so this is the only market left on earth. The boys in Santiago wanted to corner this market. I don’t know what they offered to the boys in Washington, or who traded what and to whom — but I know that you came in on it somewhere, because you do hold a sizable chunk of d’Anconia Copper stock.”

Francisco passes Dagny and makes some cryptic remarks about the John Galt line. Later he overhears Bertram Scudder say “money is the root of all evil”, which causes him to launch a 6-page monologue about how, actually, “money is the root of all good”.

“Whenever destroyers appear among men, they start by destroying money, for money is men’s protection and the base of a moral existence. Destroyers seize gold and leave to its owners a counterfeit pile of paper. This kills all objective standards and delivers men into the arbitrary power of an arbitrary setter of values. Gold was an objective value, an equivalent of wealth produced. Paper is a mortgage on wealth that does not exist, backed by a gun aimed at those who are expected to produce it. Paper is a check drawn by legal looters upon an account which is not theirs: upon the virtue of the victims. Watch for the day when it bounces, marked: ‘Account overdrawn.’”

Rearden approaches Francisco.

“I want to speak to you.”

“To whom do you think I’ve been speaking for the last quarter of an hour?”

Rearden chuckled. “[…] remember that you said you wanted to offer me your gratitude? […] I told you that I didn’t need it and I insulted you for it. All right, you’ve won. That speech you made tonight—that was what you were offering me, wasn’t it?” […] “Why don’t you practice what you preach?”

“Are you sure that I don’t?”

Francisco offers him some, somewhat cryptic, philosophical remarks, adding,

“Mr. Rearden, do you own any d’Anconia Copper stock?”

Rearden looked at him, bewildered. “No.”

“Some day, you’ll know what treason I’m committing right now, but …Don’t ever buy any d’Anconia Copper stock. Don’t ever deal with d’Anconia Copper in any way.”

Francisco explains that he’s intentionally sabotaging his mines with a series of “accidents” and that the stock will crash tomorrow morning. Rearden says “I think you’re the guiltiest man in this room […] worse than anything I had supposed.”

Francisco spots a pair of people in conversation, one with a mustashe saying “… we’ll have to decide whether we’ll permit you to make any profits or not.”

Then, raising his voice, Francisco said suddenly, in the gay, loose, piercing tone of a man of complete irresponsibility, “You won’t grant me that loan, Mr. Rearden? It puts me on a terrible spot. I must get the money — I must raise it tonight — I must raise it before the Stock Exchange opens in the morning, because otherwise —”

He did not have to continue, because the little man with the mustache was clutching at his arm.

Rearden had never believed that a human body could change dimensions within one’s sight, but he saw the man shrinking in weight, in posture, in form, as if the air were let out of his lumps […].

“Is … is there something wrong, Senor d’Anconia? I mean, on … on the Stock Exchange?”

Francisco jerked his finger to his lips, with a frightened glance.

“Keep quiet,” he whispered. “For God’s sake, keep quiet!”

The man was shaking. “Something’s … wrong?”

“You don’t happen to own any d’Anconia Copper stock, do you?”

The man nodded, unable to speak. “Oh my, that’s too bad! Well, listen, I’ll tell you, if you give me your word of honor that you won’t repeat it to anyone, You don’t want to start a panic.”

“Word of honor …” gasped the man.

“What you’d better do is run to your stockbroker and sell as fast as you can — […] oh my! I forgot that you can’t reach your stockbroker before tomorrow morning — well , it’s too bad, but —”

The man was running across the room, pushing people out of his way, like a torpedo shot into the crowd.

“Watch,” said Francisco austerely, turning to Rearden.

[…] they saw the wake of his passage spreading through the room, the sudden cuts splitting the crowd, like the first few cracks, then like the accelerating branching that runs through a wall about to crumble, the streaks of emptiness slashed, not by a human touch, but by the impersonal breath of terror.

[…] There were spots of immobility in the motion of the crowd, like spreading blotches of paralysis; there was a sudden stillness, as if a motor had been cut off; then came the frantic, jerking, purposeless, rudderless movement of objects bumping down a hill by the blind mercy of gravitation and of every rock they hit on the way. People were running out, running to telephones, running to one another, clutching or pushing the bodies around them at random.

[…] Taggart ran toward the main exit, yelling something to Orren Boyle on the way. Boyle nodded and kept on nodding, with the eagerness and humility of an inefficient servant, then darted of in another direction. Cherryl, her wedding veil coiling like a crystal cloud upon the air, as she ran after him, caught Taggart at the door. “Jim, what’s the matter?” He pushed her aside and she fell against the stomach of Paul Larkin, as Taggart rushed out.

Three persons stood immovably still, like three pillars spaced through the room, the lines of their sight cutting across the spread of the wreckage: Dagny, looking at Francisco — Francisco and Rearden, looking at each other.

Part 2, Chapter 3

After Lillian leaves to return home, Hank goes to Dagny’s apartment. Dagny says “There’s nothing to forgive” for him bringing Lillian to the wedding. “Hank, I knew you were married. I knew what I was doing. I chose to do it. There’s nothing that you owe me.” They discuss Francisco. He sleeps over with her before returning to his hotel room in the Wayne-Falkland Hotel.

Lillian is in the his room: she knows about the affair. He won’t say who it is.

“You have the right to decide what you wish me to do. I will agree to any demand you make, except one: don’t ask me to give it up.”

“Oh, I wouldn’t ask you to give it up! I wouldn’t expect you to change your nature. This is your true level—[…]”

“Do you wish to divorce me?”

“Oh, wouldn’t you like that! Wouldn’t that be a smart trade to pull! Don’t you suppose I know that you’ve wanted to divorce me since the first month of our marriage?”

“If that is what you thought, why did you stay with me?”

She answered severely, “It’s a question you have lost the right to ask.”

Floyd Ferris enters Rearden’s office five months after his lackey did, and asks when the SSI can expect to get a metal shipment. He says he knows Rearden’s secret and that “either you let us have the Metal or you go to jail for ten years and take your friend Danagger along, too.”

“Who was your informer?” asked Rearden.

“One of your friends, Mr. Rearden. The owner of a copper mine in Arizona, who reported to us that you had purchased an extra amount of copper last month. Copper is one of the ingredients of Rearden Metal, isn’t it? […] The rest was easy to trace. You mustn’t blame that mine owner too much. The copper producers, as you know, are being squeezed so badly right now that the man had to offer something of value in order to obtain a favor, an ‘emergency need’ ruling which suspended a few of the directives in his case and gave him a little breathing spell. The person to whom he traded his information knew where it would have the highest value, so he traded it to me, in return for certain favors he needed.”

[…] “Did you really think that we want those laws to be observed?” said Dr. Ferris. “We want them broken. You’d better get it straight that it’s not a bunch of boy scouts you’re up against — then you’ll know that this is not the age for beautiful gestures. We’re after power and we mean it. You fellows were pikers, but we know the real trick, and you’d better get wise to it. There’s no way to rule innocent men. The only power any government has is the power to crack down on criminals. Well, when there aren’t enough criminals, one makes them.”

He refuses to sell.

[…] “There’s a flaw in your system, Dr. Ferris,” Rearden said quietly, almost lightly, “a practical flaw which you will discover when you put me on trial for selling four thousand tons of Rearden Metal to Ken Danagger.”

[…] “Do you think we’re bluffing?” snapped Dr. Ferris. […] “Haven’t you always placed your self-interest above all else?”

“That is what I am doing right now.”

“Whom do you think you’re fooling?” Dr. Ferris’ voice had risen close to the edge of a scream. “The day of the barons of industry is done! You’ve got the goods, but we’ve got the goods on you, and you’re going to play it our way or you’ll—”

Rearden had pressed a button; Miss Ives entered the office.

“Dr. Ferris has become confused and has lost his way, Miss Ives,” said Rearden. “Will you escort him out please?” He turned to Ferris.

Rearden and Danagger are indicted. Newspapers say they should be thrown in jail. Dagny thinks Ken will be the next to disappear, and says that if she found “the destroyer”, she’d shoot him on sight. Eddie Willers shares all of Dagny’s thoughts with the unnamed railroad worker in the cafeteria.

Dagny flies to Pittsburgh to speak with Ken Danagger at 3 PM. By 3:30 PM, the secretary is shocked: Ken never misses appointments, but is still in a meeting.

“Who is with Mr. Danagger?”

“I don’t know, Miss Taggart. I have never seen the gentleman before.” She noticed the sudden, fixed stillness of Dagny’s eyes and added, “I think it’s a childhood friend of Mr. Danagger.”

“Oh!” said Dagny, relieved.

“He came in unannounced and asked to see Mr. Danagger and said that this was an appointment which Mr. Danagger had made with him forty years ago.”

“How old is Mr. Danagger?”

“Fifty-two,” said the secretary. She added reflectively, in the tone of a casual remark, “Mr. Danagger started working at the age of twelve.”

Ken gives permission for Dagny to enter at 3:50.

“Mr. Danagger, I came here to speak to you about a matter of crucial importance to the future of your business and mine. I came to speak to you about your indictment.”

“Oh, that? Don’t worry about that. It doesn’t matter. I’m going to retire.”

Her first movement was a sudden jerk of her head toward the exit door; she asked, her voice low, her mouth distorted by hatred, “Who was he?”

Danagger laughed. “If you’ve guessed that much, you should have guessed that it’s a question I won’t answer.”

“Oh God, Ken Danagger!” she moaned; his words made her realize that the barrier of hopelessness, of silence, of unanswered questions was already erected between them […]

“You’re wrong, kid,” he said gently. “I know how you feel, but you’re wrong,” then added more formally, as if remembering the proper manner, as if still trying to balance himself between two kinds of reality, “I’m sorry, Miss Taggart, that you had to come here so soon after.”

“I came too late,” she said. “That’s what I came here to prevent. I knew it would happen.”


“I felt certain that he’d get you next, whoever he is.”

“You did? That’s funny. I didn’t.”

“I wanted to warn you, to … to arm you against him.”

He smiled. “Take my word for it, Miss Taggart, so that you won’t torture yourself with regrets about the timing; that could not have been done.”

[…] “You, who loved your work, who respected nothing but work, who despised every kind of aimlessness, passivity and renunciation — have you renounced the kind of life you loved?”

“No. I have just discovered how much I do love it.”

[…] “Where are you going?”

“I won’t answer.”

[…] “Do you realize what your retirement will do to Hank Rearden, to me, to all the rest of us, whoever is left?”

“Yes. I realize it more fully than you do at present.”

“And it means nothing to you?”

“It means more than you will care to believe.”

“But you know, you knew it this morning, that it’s a battle to the death, and it’s we — you were one of us — against the looters.”

“If I answer that I know it, but you don’t — you’ll think that I attach no meaning to my words. So take it as you wish, but that is my answer.”

“Will you tell me the meaning?”

“No. It’s for you to discover.”

“You’re willing to give up the world to the looters. We aren’t.”

“Don’t be too sure of either.” […] he hesitated, then said, with effort, “About Hank Rearden … Will you do me a favor?”

“Of course.”

“Will you tell him that I … You see, I’ve never cared for people, yet he was always the man I respected, but I didn’t know until today that what I felt was, … that he was the only man I ever loved… .

[…] “You’re not going to dispose of it or appoint a successor?”

“No. What for?”

“To leave it in good hands. Couldn’t you at least name an heir of your own choice? “

“I haven’t any choice. It doesn’t make any difference to me. Want me to leave it all to you?” He reached for a sheet of paper. “I’ll write a letter naming you sole heiress right now, if you want me to.”

She shook her head in an involuntary recoil of horror. “I’m not a looter!”

[…] He looked at her bowed head and said gently, “You’re a brave person, Miss Taggart. I know what you’re doing right now and what it’s costing you. Don’t torture yourself. Let me go.”

She rose to her feet. She was about to speak — but suddenly he saw her stare down, leap forward and seize the ashtray that stood on the edge of the desk. The ashtray contained a cigarette butt stamped with the sign of the dollar.

[…] “Your caller — did he smoke this cigarette?”

“Why, I don’t know … I guess so … yes, I think I did see him smoking a cigarette once …

She stood, reluctant to leave […]. “I won’t say goodbye,” he said, “because I’ll see you again in the not too distant future.”

“Oh,” she said eagerly, holding his hand clasped across the desk, “are you going to return?”

“No. You’re going to join me.”

Rearden leaves his office that night after hearing the about Ken’s disappearance, to find Francisco d’Anconia in his anteroom. He invites him in. Francisco does most of the talking.

“It is generally assumed,” said Francisco, “that living in a human society makes one’s life much easier and safer than if one were left alone to struggle against nature on a desert island. Now wherever there is a man who needs or uses metal in any way — Rearden Metal has made his life easier for him. Has it made yours easier for you?”

“No,” said Rearden, his voice low.

“Did you want to see it used by men who could not equal the power of your mind, but who would equal your moral integrity — men such as Eddie Willers — who could never invent your Metal, but who would do their best, work as hard as you did […]?”

“Yes,” said Rearden gently.

“Did you want to see it used by whining rotters who never rouse themselves to any effort, who do not possess the ability of a filing clerk, but demand the income of a company president, [… who] would ride on your rail and sneer at you and curse you, since they owe you nothing, not even the effort of taking off their hats which you paid for? Would this be what you wanted? Would you feel proud of it?”

“I’d blast that rail first,” said Rearden, his lips white.

[…] “What I described last,” said Francisco, “is any man who proclaims his right to a single penny of another man’s effort.” […] Why don’t you uphold your own code of values among men as you do among iron smelters? You who won’t allow one per cent of impurity into an alloy of metal — what have you allowed into your moral code?” […] “You’re guilty of a great sin, Mr. Rearden, much guiltier than they tell you, but not in the way they preach. The worst guilt is to accept an undeserved guilt— and that is what you have been doing all your life.”

[…] “Go on,” said Rearden with effort, “continue. You haven’t finished, have you?”

“I have barely begun.” Francisco’s voice was hard.

An alarm sounds. The two of them fly down the stairs and see a “break-out”. A stream of white-hot metal gushes from a “hole low on the side of a blast furnace”. The furnace foreman is unconscious and other men are scrambling. The hole tears slowly wider. It turns out that Francisco and Rearden both know how to “close the hole by hand — by throwing bullets of fire clay to dam the flow of the metal. It was a dangerous job that had taken many lives.” Together they attempt this procedure “on a slippery bank of baked mud, at the edge of the white stream, with the raging hole under their feet.” Francisco loses his balance and Rearden saves his life; they finish the job. Rearden thinks the accident is caused by the ore they are using and the young new employees they were hiring. They return to the office.

“Listen,” said Rearden, “I know what’s been the trouble with you. You’ve never cared to do a real day’s work in your life. […] Forget that fortune of yours for a while and come to work for me. I’ll start you as furnace foreman any time. […]”

Francisco turns him down and reaches for his overcoat.

“Aren’t you going to finish what you had to tell me?”

“Not tonight.”

[…] “You started asking me how can I … How can I — what?”

Francisco’s smile was like a moan of pain. […] “I won’t ask it, Mr. Rearden. I know it.”

Part 2, Chapter 4

At Thanksgiving dinner, Hank thinks about how Lillian is trying to punish him for this affair.

She wanted to force upon him the suffering of dishonor — but his own sense of honor was her only weapon of enforcement. She wanted to wrest from him an acknowledgment of his moral depravity — but only his own moral rectitude could attach significance to such a verdict. She wanted to injure him by her contempt — but he could not be injured, unless he respected her judgment. […] Her only power was the power of his own virtues. What if he chose to withdraw it?

[…] To count upon his virtue and use it as an instrument of torture, to practice blackmail with the victim’s generosity as sole means of extortion, to accept the gift of a man’s good will and turn it into a tool for the giver’s destruction … he sat very still, contemplating the formula of so monstrous an evil that he was able to name it, but not to believe it possible.

[…] Did Lillian know the exact nature of her scheme? — was it a conscious policy, devised with full awareness of its meaning? He shuddered; he did not hate her enough to believe it.

Hank will be in court tomorrow; Philip complains about people like him. “Businessmen are taking advantage of the national emergency in order to make money. They break the regulations which protect the common welfare of all — for the sake of their own personal gain. […] I think it’s contemptible.”

“Philip,” he said, not raising his voice, “say any of that again and you will find yourself out in the street.”

Lillian and his mother are indignant about his heartlessness. Philip says “If you think I’m happy, you’re mistaken. I’d give anything to get away,” but decides to stay anyway. Rearden decides to leave for New York and finds Dagny staying late in her office.

“I am supposed to deliver to Taggart Transcontinental, on February ‘fifteenth, sixty thousand tons of rail, which is to give you three hundred miles of track. You will receive — for the same sum of money — eighty thousand tons of rail, which will give you five hundred miles of track. […] I am not asking for your consent. […] We will tangle the bookkeeping in such a way that if the thing should ever blow up, nobody will be able to pin anything on anybody, except on me.”

Rearden has no lawyer. When the three-judge panel, appointed by the Bureau of Economic Planning and National Resources, asks for his plea, he answers:

“I have no defense.”

“Do you—” The judge stumbled; he had not expected it to be that easy. “Do you throw yourself upon the mercy of this court?”

“I do not recognize this court’s right to try me.”

[…] “Is it necessary for me to point out that your recognition was not required?”

“No. I am fully aware of it and I am acting accordingly.”

The court gives him the chance to explain his moral position in detail.

“Are we to understand,” asked the judge, “that you hold your own interests above the interests of the public?”

“I hold that such a question can never arise except in a society of cannibals.”

“What … what do you mean?”

“I hold that there is no clash of interests among men who do not demand the unearned and do not practice human sacrifices.”

[…] “It is the opinion of this court that the facts presented by the prosecution seem to warrant no leniency. The penalty which this court has the power to impose on you is extremely severe.”

“Go ahead.”

[…] “But the law compels you to volunteer a defense!”

[…] “That is the flaw in your theory, gentlemen,” said Rearden gravely, “and I will not help you out of it. If you choose to deal with men by means of compulsion, do so. But you will discover that you need the voluntary co-operation of your victims, in many more ways than you can see at present. And your victims should discover that it is their own volition — which you cannot force — that makes you possible. I choose to be consistent and I will obey you in the manner you demand. Whatever you wish me to do, I will do it at the point of a gun.”

He continues the monologue until the spectators burst into applause.

“Mr. Rearden,” said the eldest judge, smiling affably, reproachfully and spreading his arms, “it is regrettable that you should have misunderstood us so completely. That’s the trouble — that businessmen refuse to approach us in a spirit of trust and friendship. They seem to imagine that we are their enemies. […] We have no intention of seizing your property or destroying your life. […] Our purpose is only to balance social pressures and do justice to all. This hearing is really intended, not as a trial, but as a friendly discussion aimed at mutual understanding and co-operation.”

[…] The judges retired to consider their verdict. […] They returned […] and announced that a fine of $5,000 was imposed on Henry Rearden, but that the sentence was suspended.

He looked at the people around him. They had cheered him today; they had cheered him by the side of the track of the John Galt Line. But tomorrow they would clamor for a new directive from Wesley Mouch and a free housing project from Orren Boyle, while Boyle’s girders collapsed upon their heads. They would do it, because they would be told to forget, as a sin, that which had made them cheer Hank Rearden.

Later, Rearden is meeting with some businessmen. One says,

“I’m proud to believe that I am working for the public good, not just for my own profit. I like to think that I have some goal higher than just earning my three meals a day and my Hammond limousine.”

“And I don’t like that idea about no directives and no controls,” said another. “I grant you they’re running hog-wild and overdoing it. But— no controls at all? I don’t go along with that. I think some controls are necessary. The ones which are for the public good.”

“I am sorry, gentlemen,” said Rearden, “that I will be obliged to save your goddamn necks along with mine.”

Rearden eventually decides to visit Francisco in his room at the Wayne-Falkland.

[…] “Well, how did you like hearing your own lines come over the air, with me as your stooge?”

“You weren’t, Mr. Rearden. They weren’t my lines. Weren’t they the things you had always lived by?”


“I only helped you to see that you should have been proud to live by them.”

[…] “You know, I think that the only real moral crime that one man can commit against another is the attempt to create, by his words or actions, an impression of the contradictory, the impossible, the irrational, and thus shake the concept of rationality in his victim.”

“That’s true.”

“If I say that that is the dilemma you’ve put me in, would you help me by answering a personal question?”

“I will try.”

[…] “how can you find any pleasure in spending a life as valuable as yours on running after cheap women and on an imbecile’s idea of diversions?”

“There’s a way to solve every dilemma of that kind, Mr. Rearden. Check your premises. […] No matter what corruption he’s taught about the virtue of selflessness, sex is the most profoundly selfish of all acts, an act which he cannot perform for any motive but his own enjoyment — just try to think of performing it in a spirit of selfless charity!

(No, Rand; I have thought of sex in precisely this manner for many years. If I was incapable of sexual pleasure but remained physically able, I would have no problem performing a charitable sex for someone I care about.)

— an act which is not possible in self-abasement, only in self-exaltation, only in the confidence of being desired and being worthy of desire. It is an act that forces him to stand naked in spirit, as well as in body. […] the man who is convinced of his own worthlessness will be drawn to a woman he despises.” […] “I’ve spent a lot of money on the most ostentatiously vulgar parties I could think of, and a miserable amount of time on being seen with the appropriate sort of women. As for the rest—” He stopped, then said, “I have some friends who know this, but you are the first person to whom I am confiding it against my own rules: I have never slept with any of those women. I have never touched one of them.”

“What is more incredible than that, is that I believe you.”

[…] If you care to glance over those front pages, you’ll see that I’ve never said anything. It was the women who were eager to rush into print with stories insinuating that being seen with me at a restaurant was the sign of a great romance.

“Why did you want to assume such an ugly sort of role?”

“Camouflage.” […] “For a purpose of my own.”

Rearden explains he has a new plan to buy bootleg copper without getting caught.

[…] “You didn’t know that I’m one of your customers now? It was done through a couple of stooges and under a phony name — but I’ll need your help to prevent anyone on your staff from becoming inquisitive about it. […] An order of d’Anconia copper is being shipped to me right now. It left San Juan on December fifth.”

“What?!” It was a scream of plain shock. Francisco had shot to his feet, past any attempt to hide anything. “On December fifth? […] “I told you not to deal with d’Anconia Copper!”

His hand was reaching for the telephone, but jerked back. He grasped the edge of the table, as if to stop himself from lifting the receiver, and he stood, head down, for how long a time neither he nor Rearden could tell. Rearden was held numb by the fact of watching an agonized struggle with the motionless figure of a man as its only evidence.

“Francisco … what’s the matter?”

[…] “for the time when you’re going to damn me, when you’re going to doubt every word I said … I swear to you — by the woman I love — that I am your friend.”

The memory of Francisco’s face as it looked in that moment, came back to Rearden three days later, through a blinding shock of loss and hatred — it came back, even though, standing by the radio in his office, he thought that he must now keep away from the Wayne-Falkland or he would kill Francisco d’Anconia on sight — […] three ships of d’Anconia copper, bound from San Juan to New York, had been attacked by Ragnar Danneskjöld and sent to the bottom of the ocean — he knew that much more than the copper had gone down for him with those ships.

Part 2, Chapter 5

It’s wintertime. Trains are derailing regularly now, and businesses around the country have problems shipping goods and fuel, leading to chain reaction of numerous bankruptcies. Rations of coal permit three hours of home heating per day (people don’t have natural gas?)

“You must learn to take a philosophical attitude,” said Dr. Simon Pritchett to a young girl student who broke down into sudden, hysterical sobs in the middle of a lecture. She had just returned from a volunteer relief expedition to a settlement on Lake Superior; she had seen a mother holding the body of a grown son who had died of hunger.

“There are no absolutes,” said Dr. Pritchett. “Reality is only an illusion. How does that woman know that her son is dead? How does she know that he ever existed?”

A bridge partially collapses due to a failure to procure metal to reinforce it, killing numerous passengers crossing it on a train. Rearden secretly takes coal from an abandoned mine. In New York, TT is in dire financial straits, but a Washington man named Mr. Weatherby now attends its board meetings. “Mr. Mouch sent me here to discuss the demand of the railway unions for a raise in wages and the demand of the shippers for a cut in rates.” The board looks to Dagny for help, but she refuses to make any decisions.

“I have stopped thinking of a future or of a railroad system. I intend to continue running trains so long as it is still possible to run them. I don’t think that it will be much longer.”

After much debate it is decided to close and dismantle the John Galt line on March 31, in order to scavenge the metal for use on other lines. As Dagny leaves, Francisco is waiting in the lobby. He takes her out to dinner.

Dagny and Hank go to Colorado to buy things of value before the trains stop. All productive businesses have closed; Dr. Ferris’s Reclamation Project is abandoned.

On April 2, Jim Taggart voices displeasure with Lillian about what happened at Rearden’s trial. She says that when she finds out what went wrong, she will keep her promise. “Then you’ll be free to take full credit for it and to tell your friends in high places that it’s you who’ve disarmed him.”

She knows Hank is scheduled to arrive in New York. Learning that Hank is not listed among the passengers on the Comet, she assumes he is traveling under an alias to be with her mistress. She goes to the trains as it unloads and sees Hank without a companion. Elsewhere she notices Dagny, and understands. Hank spots her; she claims she misses him and wanted to surprise him. Back in the Wayne-Falkland, she confronts him.

[…] “Is it Dagny Taggart?”

“Yes,” he answered calmly.

“I should have known it. I should have guessed. That’s why it didn’t work!”

He asked, in blank bewilderment, “What didn’t work?”

[…] “Do you think I’ll let you get away with it?” […] She was trembling. “You know, of course, that I won’t allow this to continue.”

[…] “I told you that you could demand anything but that.”

“But I have the right to demand it! I own your life! It’s my property. My property — by your own oath. You swore to serve my happiness, Not yours — mine!”

[…] “Lillian,” he said very quietly, “I would have it, even if it took your life.”

[…] “Lillian,” he said, in an unstressed voice that did not grant her even the honor of anger, “you are not to speak of her to me. If you ever do it again, I will answer you as I would answer a hoodlum: I will beat you up. Neither you nor anyone else is to discuss her.”

[…] “No, I won’t divorce you. Don’t ever hope for that. We shall continue as we are — […] See whether you can flout all moral principles and get away with it!”

Part 2, Chapter 6

Mouch, James Taggart, Orren Boyle, Floyd Ferris, Eugene Lawson, Mr. Thompson (head of state), Fred Kinnan (head of the Amalgamated Labor of America) and Mr. Weatherby are having a meeting.

“But can we get away with it?” asked Wesley Mouch.

[…] It was Eugene Lawson who answered. “That’s not, it seems to me, the way to put it. We must not let vulgar difficulties obstruct our feeling that it’s a noble plan motivated solely by the public welfare. It’s for the good of the people. The people need it. Need comes first, so we don’t have to consider anything else.”

[Mr. Thompson adds] “That’s the line, Wesley. Tone it down and dress it up and get your press boys to chant it — and you won’t have to worry.”

[Jim says] “Something’s got to be done and done fast!”

“Fact is,” said Mr. Weatherby primly, in a statistical tone of voice, “that in the twelve-month period ending on the first of this year, the rate of business failures has doubled, as compared with the preceding twelve-month period. Since the first of this year, it has trebled.”

“Be sure they think it’s their own fault,” said Dr. Ferris casually.

After some discussion Mr. Thompson says “Go ahead with Number 10-289. You won’t have any trouble at all.” Mouch notes that a “state of total emergency” will be required and that he’s “not sure whether the law actually grants us the power to put into effect certain provisions”. Mr. Thompson leaves for another appointment.

They had not heard the text of Directive No. 10-289, but they knew what it would contain. They had known it for a long time, in that special manner which consisted of keeping secrets from oneself and leaving knowledge untranslated into words. And, by the same method, they now wished it were possible for them not to hear the words of the directive. It was to avoid moments such as this that all the complex twistings of their minds had been devised, They wished the directive to go into effect. They wished it could be put into effect without words, so that they would not have to know that what they were doing was what it was. […]

Yet, for generations past, men had worked to make it possible, and for months past, every provision of it had been prepared for by countless speeches, articles, sermons, editorials […]

Mouch says their sole objective must be to hold the line and achieve total stability.

“Freedom has been given a chance and has failed. Therefore, more stringent controls are necessary. […] We can manage to exist as and where we are, but we can’t afford to move! So we’ve got to stand still. […] We’ve got to make those bastards stand still!”

Mouch’s implausible backstory is given:

Wesley Mouch came from a family that had known neither poverty nor wealth nor distinction for many generations; it had clung, however, to a tradition of its own: that of being college-bred and, therefore, of despising men who were in business. The family’s diplomas had always hung on the wall in the manner of a reproach to the world, because the diplomas had not automatically produced the material equivalents of their attested spiritual value. Among the family’s numerous relatives, there was one rich uncle. He had married his money and, in his widowed old age, he had picked Wesley as his favorite from among his many nephews and nieces, because Wesley was the least distinguished of the lot and therefore, thought Uncle Julius, the safest. Uncle Julius did not care for people who were brilliant. He did not care for the trouble of managing his money, either; so he turned the job over to Wesley. By the time Wesley graduated from college, there was no money to manage. Uncle Julius blamed it on Wesley’s cunning and cried that Wesley was an unscrupulous schemer. But there had been no scheme about it; Wesley could not have said just where the money had gone. In high school, Wesley Mouch had been one of the worst students and had passionately envied those who were the best. College taught him that he did not have to envy them at all. […] He tried to sell automobiles as if they were a bogus corn-cure. They did not sell. He blamed it on the insufficiency of his advertising budget. It was the president of the automobile concern who recommended him to Rearden. It was Rearden who introduced him to Washington — Rearden, who knew no standard by which to judge the activities of his Washington man. It was James Taggart who gave him a start in the Bureau of Economic Planning and National Resources — in exchange for double-crossing Rearden in order to help Orren Boyle in exchange for destroying Dan Conway. From then on, people helped Wesley Mouch to advance, for the same reason as that which had prompted Uncle Julius: they were people who believed that mediocrity was safe. The men who now sat in front of his desk had been taught that the law of causality was a superstition and that one had to deal with the situation of the moment without considering its cause. By the situation of the moment, they had concluded that Wesley Mouch was a man of superlative skill and cunning, since millions aspired to power, but he was the one who had achieved it. It was not within their method of thinking to know that Wesley Mouch was the zero at the meeting point of forces unleashed in destruction against one another.

They read and discuss the draft of 10-289:

“In the name of the general welfare,” read Wesley Mouch, “to protect the people’s security, to achieve full equality and total stability, it is decreed for the duration of the national emergency that—

“Point One. All workers, wage earners and employees of any kind whatsoever shall henceforth be attached to their jobs and shall not leave nor be dismissed nor change employment, under penalty of a term in jail. The penalty shall be determined by the Unification Board, such Board to be appointed by the Bureau of Economic Planning and National Resources. All persons reaching the age of twenty-one shall report to the Unification Board, which shall assign them to where, in its opinion, their services will best serve the interests of the nation.

“Point Two. All industrial, commercial, manufacturing and business establishments of any nature whatsoever shall henceforth remain in operation, and the owners of such establishments shall not quit nor leave nor retire, nor close, sell or transfer their business, under penalty of the nationalization of their establishment and of any and all of their property.

“Point Three. All patents and copyrights, pertaining to any devices, inventions, formulas, processes and works of any nature whatsoever, shall be turned over to the nation as a patriotic emergency gift by means of Gift Certificates to be signed voluntarily by the owners of all such patents and copyrights. The Unification Board shall then license the use of such patents and copyrights to all applicants, equally and without discrimination, for the purpose of eliminating monopolistic practices, discarding obsolete products and making the best available to the whole nation. No trademarks, brand names or copyrighted titles shall be used. Every formerly patented product shall be known by a new name and sold by all manufacturers under the same name, such name to be selected by the Unification Board. All private trademarks and brand names are hereby abolished.

“Point Four. No new devices, inventions, products, or goods of any nature whatsoever, not now on the market, shall be produced, invented, manufactured or sold after the date of this directive. The Office of Patents and Copyrights is hereby suspended.

“Point Five. Every establishment, concern, corporation or person engaged in production of any nature whatsoever shall henceforth produce the same amount of goods per year as it, they or he produced during the Basic Year, no more and no less. The year to be known as the Basic or Yardstick Year is to be the year ending on the date of this directive. Over or under production shall be fined, such fines to be determined by the Unification Board.

“Point Six. Every person of any age, sex, class or income, shall henceforth spend the same amount of money on the purchase of goods per year as he or she spent during the Basic Year, no more and no less. Over or under purchasing shall be fined, such fines to be determined by the Unification Board.

“Point Seven. All wages, prices, salaries, dividends, profits, interest rates and forms of income of any nature whatsoever, shall be frozen at their present figures, as of the date of this directive.

“Point Eight. All cases arising from and rules not specifically provided for in this directive, shall be settled and determined by the Unification Board, whose decisions will be final.”

James Taggart spoke first. […] “Well, why not? Why should they have it, if we don’t? Why should they stand above us? If we are to perish, let’s make sure that we all perish together. Let’s make sure that we leave them no chance to survive!”

“That’s a damn funny thing to say about a very practical plan that will benefit everybody,” said Orren Boyle shrilly, looking at Taggart in frightened astonishment.

[…] “Centralization destroys the blight of monopoly,” said Boyle.

“How’s that again?” drawled Kinnan.

Kinnan insists that the Unification Board be staffed with his men. After a heated debate, Mouch agrees. Minor amendments are proposed.

“Wesley, under Point Four, we’ll have to close all research departments, experimental laboratories, scientific foundations and all the rest of the institutions of that kind. They’ll have to be forbidden.”

[…] “The State Science Institute, too?” asked Fred Kinnan.

“Oh, no!” said Mouch. “That’s different. That’s government.” […]

“And what will become of all the engineers, professors and such, when you close all those laboratories?” asked Fred Kinnan. “What are they going to do for a living, with all the other jobs and businesses frozen?”

[…] “They’ll have to wait till the Unification Board finds some use for them,” said Wesley Mouch.

“What will they eat while they’re waiting?”

Mouch shrugged. “There’s got to be some victims in times of national emergency. It can’t be helped.”

“I’m a little worried,” said Eugene Lawson, “about Points Three and Four. Taking over the patents is fine. Nobody’s going to defend industrialists. But I’m worried about taking over the copyrights. That’s going to antagonize the intellectuals. […] We don’t want to lose them. They can make an awful lot of trouble.”

“They won’t,” said Fred Kinnan. “Your kind of intellectuals are the first to scream when it’s safe — and the first to shut their traps at the first sign of danger. […] Do anything you please to the intellectuals. They’ll take it.”

Mouch notes they don’t actually have the legal power to seize patents. “And we have to preserve a semblance of legality — or the populace won’t take it.” Soon the meeting ends; directive 10-289 will go into effect May 1st.

When Dagny finds out about the new rules, she resigns immediately and tells Eddie she’s going to an old cabin she had inherited from her father. Eddie is not to communicate with her about the railroad or reveal her location to anyone but Hank. She calls Hank for a final conversation. Hank will work for the next two weeks until he is required to “voluntarily” sign the Gift Certificate.

The Wet Nurse offers to help Hank any way he can and asks him not to sign the Gift Certificate.

There was silence throughout the country. He did not know how many industrialists had retired and vanished on May I and 2, leaving their plants to be seized. He counted ten among his own customers, including McNeil of the McNeil Car Foundry in Chicago.

The front pages of the newspapers were suddenly full of stories about spring floods, traffic accidents, school picnics and golden-wedding anniversaries.

After two weeks, Ferris visits Hank and shows evidence that his mistress is Miss Dagny Taggart.

“There is nothing in this blackjack of mine that can harm you personally,” said Dr. Ferris, “We knew that no form of personal injury would ever make you give in. Therefore, I am telling you frankly that this will not hurt you at all. It will only hurt Miss Taggart.”

“But all your calculations rest on the fact that Miss Taggart is a virtuous woman, not the slut you’re going to call her.”

“Yes, of course,” said Dr. Ferris.

After carefully thinking over his past and present moral convictions, he decides to sign the Gift Certificate.

Dagny, he thought, you would not let me do it if you knew, you will hate me for it if you learn — but I cannot let you pay my debts. The fault was mine and I will not shift to you the punishment which is mine to take.

Part 2, Chapter 7

In the cafeteria, Eddie Willers talks to the unnamed railroad worker.

“[…] so many people are vanishing without notice. I hear there’s hundreds of them roving around the country. The police have been arresting them for leaving their jobs — they’re called deserters — but there’s too many of them and no food to feed them in jail, so nobody gives a damn any more [….] It’s our best men that we’re losing, the kind who’ve been with the company for twenty years or more. You should see the trained seal that we now have in [Dagny’s] place […]—Clifton Locey— he sees to it that he’s never caught actually giving an order. He works very hard at making sure that no decision can ever be pinned down on him, so that he won’t be blamed for anything. Mr. Clifton Locey has managed to frame up two men [….] Both men were fired, officially, by ruling of the Unification Board [….] I wanted to quit. I had never wanted to so badly. But I didn’t. […] They say that Orren Boyle seems to have known about that directive long ago, weeks or months in advance, because he had started […] to reconstruct his furnaces for the production of Rearden Metal, in one of his lesser steel plants. […] But — listen — the night before they were to start, […] Boyle’s mills were razed to the ground. […] I can’t sleep any more, I lie awake for hours …. Yes! — if you want to know it — yes, it’s because I’m worried about her! I’m scared to death for her. Woodstock is just a miserable little hole of a place, miles away from everything, and the Taggart lodge is twenty miles farther, twenty miles of a twisting trail in a godforsaken forest. […] You won’t vanish, like all the others, will you? … What? Next week? … Oh, on your vacation. For how long? … How do you rate a whole month’s vacation? … Really? I envy you […] — if you’ve been able to take a month off every summer for twelve years.”

Hank had moved to an apartment in Philadelphia, and now carried a gun for self-defense.

He had handed to his attorney a signed blank check and said, “Get me a divorce. On any grounds and at any cost. […] Do whatever you wish. But there is to be no alimony and no property settlement.”

On the long walk home, a shady figure approaches. He says he’s here to deliver “A small refund on a very large debt”: a bar of solid gold.

“What made you think that I’d accept a gift of this kind?”

“It is not a gift, Mr. Rearden. It is your own money. […] The gold is yours, so you are free to use it as you please. But I risked my life to bring it to you tonight, so I am asking, as a favor, that you save it for the future or spend it on yourself. On nothing but your own comfort and pleasure. Do not give it away and, above all, do not put it into your business. […] When they took Rearden Metal away from you, it was too much, even for me.”

“How did you collect it? Where did this gold come from?”

“It was taken from those who robbed you.” […] “By me.”

“Who are you?”

“Ragnar Danneskjöld.”

Hank drops the bar of gold.

“You chose to live by means of force, like the rest of them!”

“Yes — openly. Honestly, if you will. I do not rob men who are tied and gagged, I do not demand that my victims help me […]. I stake my life in every encounter with men, and they have a chance to match their guns and their brains against mine in fair battle.”

“But what sort of life have you chosen? To what purpose are you giving your mind?”

“To the cause of my love.”

“Which is what?”


“Served by being a pirate?”

“By working for the day when I won’t have to be a pirate any longer.”

“Which day is that?”

“The day when you’ll be free to make a profit on Rearden Metal.”

Ragnar explains his mission in life: to wipe out the last trace of Robin Hood from men’s minds.

“He was the man who robbed the rich and gave to the poor. Well, I’m the man who robs the poor and gives to the rich — or, to be exact, the man who robs the thieving poor and gives back to the productive rich.” […] “What I actually am, Mr. Rearden, is a policeman. It is a policeman’s duty to protect men from criminals — criminals being those who seize wealth by force. It is a policeman’s duty to retrieve stolen property and return it to its owners.

“I deposit the gold in a bank — in a gold-standard bank, Mr. Rearden — to the account of men who are its rightful owners. They are the men of superlative ability who made their fortunes by personal effort, in free trade, using no compulsion, no help from the government.” […] “I cannot compute all the money that has been extorted from you […] but if you wish to see its magnitude — look around you. The extent of the misery now spreading through this once prosperous country is the extent of the injustice which you have suffered. […] But there is one part of the debt which is computed and on record. That is the part which I have made it my purpose to collect and return to you.”

“What is that?”

“Your income tax, Mr. Rearden.”


“Your income tax for the last twelve years.” […] He glanced down at the gold on the ground. “Pick it up, Mr. Rearden. It’s not stolen. It’s yours.” […] “Many of my friends do not approve of the course I’ve chosen. But we all choose different ways to fight the same battle — and this is mine.”

Rearden smiled contemptuously, “Aren’t you one of those damn altruists who spends his time on a non-profit venture and risks his life merely to serve others?”

“No, Mr. Rearden. I am investing my time in my own future. When we are free and have to start rebuilding from out of the ruins, I want to see the world reborn as fast as possible. If there is, then, some working capital in the right hands — in the hands of our best, our most productive men — it will save years for the rest of us […].”

“If I were within reach of a phone, I would call the police. I would and I will, if you ever attempt to approach me again.”

A police car stops beside them. “Oh, it’s you, Mr. Rearden!” says the cop. “Did you happen to see a man anywhere around these parts, a stranger moving along in a hurry?”

“No,” said Rearden. “I didn’t.”

“Who is that, Mr. Rearden?” he asked.

“My new bodyguard,” said Rearden.

Danneskjöld leaves. Rearden picks up the bar of gold.

Meanwhile, federal Legislature candidate Kip Chalmers is on the Transcontinental Comet train, running late for a campaign rally in California, when the front of the train derails, sending the engine onto its side. Chalmers demands the conductor tell him what happened.

“Rail wears out, Mr. Chalmers,” he answered with a strange kind of emphasis. “Particularly on curves.”

“Didn’t you know that it was worn out?”

“We knew.” […] “That engine’s never going to be put back on any track, from the looks of it.” […] “The engineer’s gone to call Winston.”

“Call? How?”

“There’s a phone couple of miles down the track.”

[…] his voice rose to a scream for the first time: “How long will we have to wait?”

The new superintendent is Dave Mitchum, who got his job at the request of Wesley Mouch. He asks

“What in hell are we going to do?”

“One thing is certain,” said Bill Brent, the chief dispatcher. “We can’t send a train into the tunnel with a coal-burning engine.”

“Well, where do we get a Diesel?” he asked angrily.

“We don’t,” said the road foreman. […] “What’s the use of talking about it, Dave? You know that there is no Diesel anywhere on the division.”

[…] It was half-past two when the Comet, pulled by an old switch engine, jerked to a stop on a siding of Winston Station.

“Now what? What in hell are they stopping here for?” [Chalmers] cried, and rang for the conductor.

Slowly, patiently, with contemptuous politeness, the conductor gave him an exact account of the situation. But years ago, in grammar school, in high school, in college, Kip Chalmers had been taught that man does not and need not live by reason.

“Damn your tunnel!” he screamed. “Do you think I’m going to let you hold me up because of some miserable tunnel? Do you want to wreck vital national plans on account of a tunnel? Tell your engineer that I must be in San Francisco by evening and that he’s got to get me there!”


“That’s your job, not mine!”

“There is no way to do it.”

“Then find a way, God damn you!”

The conductor did not answer.

“Do you think I’ll let your miserable technological problems interfere with crucial social issues? Do you know who I am? Tell that engineer to start moving, if he values his job!”

“The engineer has his orders.”

“Orders be damned! I give the orders these days! Tell him to start at once!”

It is impossible to reach San Francisco by evening because only coal-powered engines are available, and they need to travel on an upward grade through an 8-mile-long tunnel with poor ventilation. But Chalmers orders a telegram be sent:

Mr. James Taggart, New York City. Am held up on the Comet at Winston, Colorado, by the incompetence of your men, who refuse to give me an engine. Have meeting in San Francisco in the evening of top-level national importance. If you don’t move my train at once, I’ll let you guess the consequences. Kip Chalmers.

Jim is awakened by the message at 6 AM. He calls Clifton Locey to demand he do something. Locey sends an order to Mitchum.

“Give an engine to Mr. Chalmers at once. Send the Comet through safely and without unnecessary delay. If you are unable to perform your duties, I shall hold you responsible before the Unification Board, Clifton Locey.”

Then, calling his girl friend to join him, Clifton Locey drove to a country roadhouse — to make certain that no one would be able to find him in the next few hours.

Mitchum looks for a politically palatable way out and finds nothing, but is terrified of being blamed for the delay, and decides to carry out the order with a coal-burning train.

Most of the employees in the train and at the station are aware it would be deadly for this passenger train to go through the tunnel, but Mitchum goes through various machinations to make it happen anyway; fear induced in employees by Emergency Directive No. 10-289 prevent them from stopping Mitchum. The train, driven by employees who are unaware of the danger, goes into the tunnel, killing everyone aboard.

But before Rand sends them to their deaths, she explains in some detail that every single person on the train (aside from the children) had a belief or an occupation which Rand would not approve of.

The man in Bedroom H, Car No. 5, was a businessman who had acquired his business, an ore mine, with the help of a government loan, under the Equalization of Opportunity Bill.

The man in Drawing Room A, Car No. 6, was a financier who had made a fortune by buying “frozen” railroad bonds and getting his friends in Washington to “defreeze” them.

The man in Seat 5, Car No, 7, was a worker who believed that he had “a right” to a job, whether his employer wanted him or not.

The woman in Roomette 6, Car No. 8, was a lecturer who believed that, as a consumer, she had “a right” to transportation, whether the railroad people wished to provide it or not.

The man in Roomette 2, Car No. 9, was a professor of economics who advocated the abolition of private property, explaining that intelligence plays no part in industrial production, that man’s mind is conditioned by material tools, that anybody can run a factory or a railroad and it’s only a matter of seizing the machinery.

The woman in Roomette 9, Car No. 12, was a housewife who believed that she had the right to elect politicians, of whom she knew nothing, to control giant industries, of which she had no knowledge.

Part 2, Chapter 8

Dagny enjoys her peace in the woods, renovating things, but after two weeks starts to listen to radio news, and after four is anxious to send a paycheque to Quentin Daniels, if he’s still around. At that point, Francisco d’Anconia drives up to her cabin.

Francisco! What were you whistling when you were coming up the hill?”

“Why, was I? I don’t know.”

“It was the Fifth Concerto by Richard Halley, wasn’t it?”

“Oh…” He looked startled, then smiled in amusement at himself, then answered gravely, “I’ll tell you that later.”

“How did you find out where I was?” […] “You forced it out of Eddie.”

“I haven’t seen Eddie for over a year.” […] “You shouldn’t have been left here for a month,” he said. “God, you shouldn’t have! It’s my first failure, at the one time when I didn’t want to fail. But I didn’t think you were ready to quit. Had I known it, I would have watched you day and night.”

[…] “You know,” she said, “I used to think that there was some destroyer who came after them and made them quit. […Now] I know how they felt. I can’t blame them any longer. What I don’t know is how they learned to exist afterward — if any of them still exist.”

“Do you feel that you’ve betrayed Taggart Transcontinental?”

“No. I … I feel that I would have betrayed it by remaining at work.”

[…] “Then you know what they felt, all the men who quit, and what it was that they loved when they gave up.”

“Francisco,” she asked, not looking at him, her head bent, “why did you ask me whether I could have given it up twelve years ago?”

[…] “That was the night I gave up d’Anconia Copper.”

[…] “But you didn’t give it up,” she said. “You didn’t quit. You’re still the President of d’Anconia Copper, only it means nothing to you now.”

[…] “Dagny, you’re more fortunate than I. Taggart Transcontinental is a delicate piece of precision machinery. It will not last long without you. It cannot be run by slave labor. They will mercifully destroy it for you and you won’t have to see it serving the looters. But copper mining is a simpler job. D’Anconia Copper could have lasted for generations of looters and slaves. […] I had to destroy it myself.”

“Francisco … of all the guesses I tried to make about you … I never thought of it … I never thought that you were one of those men who had quit … “

“I was one of the first of them.”

“I thought that they always vanished …”

“Well, hadn’t I? Wasn’t it the worst of what I did to you — that I left you looking at a cheap playboy who was not the Francisco d’Anconia you had known? “

Francisco is convincing her to abandon Taggart Transcontinental, when the music on the radio is interrupted.

“Ladies and gentlemen,” said the panic-pregnant voice of a radio announcer, breaking off the chords of the symphony, “we interrupt this broadcast to bring you a special news bulletin. The greatest disaster in railroad history occurred in the early hours of the morning on the main line of Taggart Transcontinental, at Winston, Colorado, demolishing the famous Taggart Tunnel! […] It was known to every railroad employee in the district that to send a train into the tunnel with such a locomotive would mean death by suffocation for everyone aboard. The Comet, none the less, was so ordered to proceed. According to Fireman Beal, the effects of the fumes began to be felt when the train was about three miles inside the tunnel. Engineer Joseph Scott threw the throttle wide open, in a desperate attempt to gain speed, but […] some passenger, prompted undoubtedly by the panic of choking, pulled the emergency brake cord. The sudden jolt of the stop apparently broke the engine’s airhose, for the train could not be started again. […] Fireman Beal leaped from the engine and ran. He was within sight of the western portal, when he heard the blast of the explosion, which is the last thing he remembers. […] It appears that an Army Freight Special, westbound, carrying a heavy load of explosives, had been given no warning about the presence of the Comet on the track just ahead. […] It appears that the Freight Special had been ordered to proceed regardless of signals, because the tunnel’s signal system was out of order. […] in view of the frequent breakdowns of the ventilating system, it was the tacit custom of all engineers to go full speed while in the tunnel. It appears, as far as can be established at present, that the Comet was stalled just beyond the point where the tunnel makes a sharp curve. […] The explosion of the Special’s cargo broke windows in a farmhouse five miles away.”

“Dagny!” he screamed. “Don’t go back!”

She tears away from him like an animal fighting for its life.

Meanwhile in New York, Jim Taggart is blocking all phone calls. He contemplates resigning, then heads to the Operations office to scream at Eddie. He demands Dagny’s location and utters threats, but Eddie refuses to tell. Dagny flings open the doors; he screams at her for leaving.

She said, “Get Ryan on the telephone, tell him I’m here, then let me speak to him.” Ryan had been the general manager of the railroad’s Central Region.

Eddie gave her a warning by not answering at once, then said, his voice as even as hers, “Ryan’s gone, Dagny. He quit last week.”

She did not notice his exit; she was looking at Eddie. “Is Knowland here?” she asked.

“No. He’s gone.”





[…] “What has been done since this morning?”

“Nothing,” responds Eddie, explaining that no one wants to be held responsible for taking any actions whatsoever. She gives a series of orders to get the train system working again, lets Hank know of her return, and asks about Quentin Daniels (whom he hasn’t heard from).

Part 2, Chapter 9

That night Francisco goes to Dagny’s apartment and says

“I haven’t given up the future,”

“What future?”

“The day when the looters will perish, but we won’t.”

“If Taggart Transcontinental is to perish with the looters, then so am I.”

“Dagny,” he said slowly, “I know why one loves one’s work. I know what it means to you, the job of running trains. But you would not run them if they were empty. Dagny, what is it you see when you think of a moving train?”

She glanced at the city. “The life of a man of ability who might have perished in that catastrophe, but will escape the next one, which I’ll prevent — a man who has an intransigent mind and an unlimited ambition, and is in love with his own life […]”

[…] “Do you think that you can still serve him — that kind of man — by running the railroad?”


“All right, Dagny. I won’t try to stop you. So long as you still think that, nothing can stop you, or should. You will stop on the day when you’ll discover that your work has been placed in the service, not of that man’s life, but of his destruction.” … “Until then, Dagny, remember that we’re enemies.”

“You’re one of them,” she said slowly, “aren’t you?”

“Of whom?”

“Was it you in Ken Danagger’s office?”

He smiled. “No.”

Rearden walks into the apartment with his personal key, and is not at all happy to see Francisco.

“What are you doing here?” asked Rearden, in the tone one would use to address a menial caught in a drawing room.

[…] “I have given you grounds not to trust me, but none to include Miss Taggart.”

“Hank, if you wish to accuse me—” she began, but Rearden whirled to her.

“God, no, Dagny, I don’t! But you shouldn’t be seen speaking to him. You shouldn’t deal with him in any way. You don’t know him. I do.” […] “I’m sorry if it has to be here. It doesn’t concern you, but there’s something he must be paid for.”

Rearden […] was now unable to tell whether he was torturing Francisco or himself. “You’re worse than the looters, because you betray with full understanding of that which you’re betraying.”

“If I gave you my word—” He stopped.

Rearden chuckled. “I know what they mean, your words, your convictions, your friendship and your oath by the only woman you ever—” He stopped. They all knew what this meant, in the same instant that Rearden knew it. […] He asked, pointing at Dagny, his voice low and strangely unlike his own voice, as if it neither came from nor were addressed to a living person, “Is this the woman you love?”

“Don’t ask him that!” The cry was Dagny’s.

Francisco answered, looking at her, “Yes.”

Rearden’s hand rose, swept down and slapped Francisco’s face.

Francisco leaves.

A shudder of pity ran through her body […]. “You wanted to know the name of that other man? The man. I slept with? The man who had me first? It was Francisco d’Anconia!” She saw the force of the blow by seeing his face swept blank. […] She felt suddenly calm, knowing that her words had had to be said for the sake of all three of them.

He seized her shoulders, and she felt prepared to accept that he would now kill her or beat her into unconsciousness […]. She found herself, in terror, twisting her body to resist, and, in exultation, twisting her arms around him, holding him, letting her lips bring blood to his, knowing that she had never wanted him as she did in this moment.

After they make love, the assistant manager of the apartment building delivers a letter from Quentin Daniels, reporting that if he discovers the secret of the motor, he won’t reveal it to the world to avoid “helping those who despise me”, so he won’t accept a paycheck for his research, adding that if any trustees of the Institute “should remind me that I am now legally forbidden to cease being a janitor, I will quit.” He does not explain how he will survive on zero income, but she calls him on the phone and he says he was just harvesting carrots from the former parking lot. She asks him to “wait for me no matter what happens” and asks Eddie to hold the Comet train for her.

It takes three days”—she remembered—”it will now take five days to reach Utah. I have to go by train, there are people I have to see on the line — this can’t be delayed, either.”

Hank agrees to fly his plane to meet her in Colorado, and leaves. Eddie visits her apartment to discuss operation plans, and notices Hank Rearden’s personalized evening gown in her closet. Eddie goes to the cafeteria, where the unnamed railroad worker prods him until he spills the beans on Quentin Daniels and Dagny’s Affair.

Why should I care that she’s sleeping with Hank Rearden? … Oh God!—what’s the matter with you? Don’t go! Where are you going?”

Part 2, Chapter 10

On the train, Dagny stops the conductor from pushing an old vagrant off the moving train, and invites him into her private car. He says it’s impossible to find work in the east, so he’s heading west. It turns out he worked for 20 years at Twentieth Century Motor Company (TCMC) and thinks that it was he himself, and other workers, who popularized the idiom “Who is John Galt?” He tells the tale of the “from each according to his ability, to each according to his need” plan.

“We voted for that plan at a big meeting, with all of us present, six thousand of us, everybody that worked in the factory. The Starnes heirs made long speeches about it, and it wasn’t too clear, but nobody asked any questions. None of us knew just how the plan would work, but every one of us thought that the next fellow knew it. And if anybody had doubts, he felt guilty and kept his mouth shut — because they made it sound like anyone who’d oppose the plan was a child killer at heart and less than a human being.

“[…] Well, anyway, it was decided that nobody had the right to judge his own need or ability. We voted on it. Yes, ma’am, we voted on it in a public meeting twice a year. […] we had become beggars — rotten, whining, sniveling beggars, […] because no man could claim his pay as his rightful earning.

[…] “The factory’s production had fallen by forty per cent, in that first half-year, so it was decided that somebody hadn’t delivered ‘according to his ability’ Who? How would you tell it? ‘The family’ voted on that, too. They voted which men were the best, and these men were sentenced to work overtime each night for the next six months. […] The one accusation we feared was to be suspected of ability. Ability was like a mortgage on you that you could never pay off.

[…] “There wasn’t any ‘amusement allowance’ for anybody. ‘Amusement’ was the first thing they dropped. Aren’t you always supposed to be ashamed to object when anybody asks you to give up anything, if it’s something that gave you pleasure? […] Babies was the only item of production that didn’t fall, but rose and kept on rising — because people had nothing else to do, I guess, and because they didn’t have to care, the baby wasn’t their burden, it was ‘the family’s.’ In fact, the best chance you had of getting a raise and breathing easier for a while was a ‘baby allowance.’ Either that, or a major disease.

[…] “But the shiftless and the irresponsible had a field day of it. They bred babies, they got girls into trouble, they dragged in every worthless relative they had from all over the country, every unmarried pregnant sister, for an extra ‘disability allowance, ‘ they got more sicknesses than any doctor could disprove, they ruined their clothing, their furniture, their homes — what the hell, ‘the family’ was paying for it!

[…] “Love of our brothers? That’s when we learned to hate our brothers for the first time in our lives.

[…] “Babies, to us, had become what locusts were to farmers.

[…] “Was there any reason why this sort of horror would ever be preached by anybody? Was there anybody who got any profit from it? There was. The Starnes heirs. I hope you’re not going to remind me that they’d sacrificed a fortune and turned the factory over to us as a gift. We were fooled by that one, too. Yes, they gave up the factory. But profit, ma’am, depends on what it is you’re after. And what the Starnes heirs were after, no money on earth could buy.

[…] “Eric Starnes, the youngest—he was a jellyfish that didn’t have the guts to be after anything in particular. […] The pay he got—well, I shouldn’t call it ‘pay, ‘none of us was ‘paid’ — the alms voted to him was fairly modest, about ten times what I got, but that wasn’t riches. […] Gerald Starnes was our Director of Production. […] It would have taken a staff of accountants to figure that out, and a staff of engineers to trace the way it was piped, directly or indirectly, into his office. […] Gerald had three cars, four secretaries, five telephones, and he used to throw champagne and caviar parties that no tax-paying tycoon in the country could have afforded. […] But his sister Ivy was worse. She really did not care for material wealth. The alms she got was no bigger than ours […]. She was the lady in charge of our needs. She was the one who held us by the throat. Of course, distribution was supposed to be decided by voting — by the voice of the people. But when the people are six thousand howling voices […] then it turns out, as it did, that the voice of the people is Ivy Starnes. By the end of the second year […] all the petitions of need were simply sent to Miss Starnes’ office. […] We voted approval. There was a ten-minute period on the agenda for discussion and objections. We made no objections. We knew better by that time. Nobody can divide a factory’s income among thousands of people, without some sort of a gauge to measure people’s value. Her gauge was bootlicking. […] And if you ever want to see pure evil, you should have seen the way her eyes glinted when she watched some man who’d talked back to her once and who’d just heard his name on the list of those getting nothing above basic pittance. And when you saw it, you saw the real motive of any person who’s ever preached the slogan: ‘From each according to his ability, to each according to his need,’

[…] At first, I kept wondering how it could be possible that the educated, the cultured, the famous men of the world could make a mistake of this size and preach, as righteousness, this sort of abomination […]. Now I know that they didn’t do it by any kind of mistake. Mistakes of this size are never made innocently. […] And we weren’t so innocent either, when we voted for that plan at the first meeting. […] There wasn’t a man voting for it who didn’t think that under a setup of this kind he’d muscle in on the profits of the men abler than himself. […] But while he was thinking that he’d get unearned benefits from the men above, he forgot about the men below who’d get unearned benefits, too.

(So Rand not a mistake theorist.)

[…] The best men among us left the factory in the first week of the plan. […] A man of self-respect doesn’t turn into a milch cow for anybody. […] After a while, we couldn’t quit, because no other employer would have us […]. Yet this was the moral law that the professors and leaders and thinkers had wanted to establish all over the earth.

“But what about John Galt?” she asked.

[…] “It was something that happened at that first meeting at the Twentieth Century factory. … The meeting was held on a spring night, twelve years ago. […] Gerald Starnes yelled through the noise. ‘Remember that none of us may now leave this place, for each of us belongs to all the others by the moral law which we all accept!’ ‘I don’t,’ said one man and stood up. He was one of the young engineers. Nobody knew much about him. […] I remember thinking that any two of us could have broken his neck without trouble — but what we all felt was fear. He stood like a man who knew that he was right. ‘I will put an end to this, once and for all,’ he said. […] That was all he said and started to walk out […] Gerald Starnes cried suddenly after him, ‘How?’ He turned and answered, ‘I will stop the motor of the world. Then he walked out. We never saw him again. […] years later, […] when it began to look as if […] the world was crumbling quietly […] — then we began to wonder and to ask questions about him. We began to ask it of one another, those of us who had heard him say it. […] You see, his name was John Galt.

Dagny lets the vagrant sleep in her car. She wakes up to the silence of a stopped train. As she walks to investigate, she spots Owen Kellogg, who says he had just woken and didn’t know she was aboard. They’d heard stories about staff abandoning trains, and were not surprised to find none aboard.

Her cry of desperate triumph broke out in answer to the shock of the sight: “Good for them! They’re human beings!” She stopped, aghast, as at the cry of a stranger.

She announces the situation to the passengers and is annoyed by their helpless, needy questions. One asks about raider attacks.

“There have been no cases of raider gang attacks upon frozen trains — unfortunately.”

Dagny pays the vagrant, Jeff Allen, a hundred dollars to take charge of the train while Owen and Dagny leave in search of an emergency telephone. Owen mentions he wouldn’t take any job at Taggart Transcontinental that requires him to use his mind. “My mind is not on the market any longer.” His destination is a month-long vacation with friends.

The emergency telephone is broken. As they walk five miles toward the next one, Owen offers Dagny a cigarette from a carton with a dollar-sign logo on it.

“Where did you get this?” she asked.

He was smiling. “If you know enough to ask that, Miss Taggart, you should know that I won’t answer.” […] “I can tell you this much: they’re made by a friend of mine, for sale, but […] he sells them only to his friends.”

“Sell me that package, will you?”

“I don’t think you’ll be able to afford it, Miss Taggart, but — all right, if you wish.”

“How much is it?”

[…] “Five cents—” he said, and added, “in gold.”

He gives her the carton as a gift, to remind her of her “true homeland”. The next telephone works, but the man on the other end of the line says the rules don’t say anything about sending out a crew to help if there hasn’t been an accident. All his supervisors are on vacation.

“Do you know that your job is to keep trains moving?”

“My job is to obey the rules.” […]

“And what’s going to happen if you leave a train stalled on the line?”

“That’s not my fault. I had nothing to do with it. They can’t blame me. I couldn’t help it.”

Eventually she convinces him to send a crew by threatening to fire him and assuming all responsibility.

There is a nearby airfield and Owen convinces Dagny to try to reach her destination by plane. The two of them convince an attendant there to let them borrow a brand new monoplane in exchange for a $15,000 deposit check, based on her emergency need as VP, Operations at TT. She pilots the plane to Afton, Utah. At her destination, an attendant walks out to meet the plane. Dagny asks:

“Can I get a car somewhere to drive me to the Institute of Technology at once?” she asked.

[…] “what for? There’s nobody there.”

“Mr. Quentin Daniels is there.”

The attendant shook his head slowly — then jerked his thumb, pointing east to the shrinking taillights of the plane. “There’s Mr. Daniels going now.” […] “He went with the man who flew in for him two-three hours ago.”

She jumps back in her plane, takes off, and follows the twinkling red and green lights to the southeast, toward the mountains of Colorado, still vaguely imagining that she would kill the man taking Daniels away. She has less than half an hour of fuel left when the stranger’s plane suddenly glides in a spiral, downward toward a valley in a cluster of granite mountains, disappearing behind ridges of rock. She descends, but sees no possible landing zone. With minutes of fuel remaining, she flies through a narrow valley between two rock faces. The ground below confuses her in some mysterious way, and she descends deeper. There is a blinding flash of light just before she runs out of fuel.

She tried to pull for a rise, but the ship was going down — and what she saw flying at her face was not the spread of mangled boulders, but the green grass of a field where no field had been before.

[…] Flung from side to side, like a battered pendulum, clinging to the wheel, half in her seat, half on her knees, she fought to pull the ship into a glide, for an attempt to make a belly-landing, while the green ground was whirling about her, sweeping above her, then below, its spiral coils coming closer. Her arms pulling at the wheel, with no chance to know whether she could succeed, with her space and time running out — she felt, in a flash of its full, violent purity, that special sense of existence which had always been hers. […]

Summary of PART III: “A is A”

Part 3, Chapter 1: Atlantis

When she opened her eyes, […] she was looking up at the face of a man who knelt by her side, and she knew that in all the years behind her, this was what she would have given her life to see: a face that bore no mark of pain or fear or guilt. The shape of his mouth was pride, and more: it was as if he took pride in being proud. […] This was her world, she thought […]. She smiled at him, as at a fellow conspirator, in relief, in deliverance […].

And then, her consciousness returning fully, she realized that this man was a total stranger.

“Don’t move, Miss Taggart. You’re hurt.”

“You know me?” Her voice was impersonal and hard.

“I’ve known you for many years.”

“Have I known you?”

“Yes, I think so.”

“What is your name?”

“John Galt.”

John Galt explains that the airstrip is camoflauged by a “screen of rays” producing a “reflection projected over this valley” of a mountain top, like a “mirage on a desert: an image refracted from a layer of heated air”.

“Why do you keep that screen?”

“Because this place is private property intended to remain as such.”

Dagny is injured and John Galt carries her through the valley. They reach a ledge and see the floor of the valley, which most of the residents are calling Galt’s Gulch.

It was not a town, only a cluster of houses scattered at random from the bottom to the rising steps of the mountains that went on rising above their roofs, enclosing them within an abrupt, impassable circle. […] Far in the distance, some structures seemed taller, and the faint coils of smoke above them suggested an industrial district. […] Close before her, […] stood a dollar sign three feet tall, made of solid gold. It hung in space above the town […].

“Oh, that’s Francisco’s private joke. […] He gave that sign as an anniversary present to the owner of this place. And then we all adopted it as our particular emblem. We liked the idea.”

Midas Mulligan and Hugh Akston come toward them. “Miss Taggart, this is the first time anyone has ever proved me wrong, I didn’t know — when I told you you’d never find him — that the next time I saw you, you would be in his arms.”

“In whose arms?”

“Why, the inventor of the motor.”

[…] “Who is the owner of this place?” she asked.

“I am,” said Mulligan.

Ellis Wyatt spots her. “Dagny! You, too, at last? One of us?”

“No,” said Galt. “Miss Taggart is a castaway.”

Galt’s house is made of rough granite blocks, with a sheet of glass for most of its front wall.

the place had the primitive simplicity of a frontiersman’s cabin, reduced to essential necessities, but reduced with a super-modern skill.

[…] “Am I a guest here or a prisoner?” she asked.

“The choice will be yours, Miss Taggart.”

[…] “It was you … wasn’t it? … who destroyed my Line….”

“Why, no. It was the contradiction.”

[…] “That night … twelve years ago … a spring night when you walked out of a meeting of six thousand murderers — that story is true, isn’t it?”


“You told them that you would stop the motor of the world.”

“I have.”

“What have you done?”

“I’ve done nothing, Miss Taggart. And that’s the whole of my secret.”

A famous surgeon, Dr. Hendricks, arrives and treats her. “Midas told me that Miss Taggart has to be treated for shock,” he said, “not for the one sustained, but for the ones to come.”

John Galt cooks a fancy breakfast for her, with food from the grocery store of Lawrence Hammond of Hammond Cars, bacon from the farm of Dwight Sanders of Sanders Aircraft, and eggs from Judge Narragansett of the Superior Court of Illinois. From one point of view, Galt remarks, “it’s the cheapest breakfast you’ll ever eat — because no part of it has gone to feed the looters who’ll make you pay for it through year after year and leave you to starve in the end.”

John Galt won’t show her the motor that helped cook the food, but orders a car to show her around town.

“Did I understand you to say that Mr. Mulligan — who’s worth about two hundred million dollars, I believe — is going to charge you twenty-five cents for the use of his car? […] couldn’t he give it to you as a courtesy?”

(All the prices are low in the valley, which adds to the town’s positive affect.)

“Miss Taggart,” he said, “we have no laws in this valley, no rules, no formal organization of any kind. We come here because we want to rest. But we have certain customs, which we all observe, because they pertain to the things we need to rest from. So I’ll warn you now that there is one word which is forbidden in this valley: the word ‘give,’.”

Quentin Daniels arrives in Mulligan’s car.

“Miss Taggart,” he gasped, “I’m sorry!” The desperate guilt in his voice clashed with the joyous excitement in his face, “I’ve never broken my word before! There’s no excuse for it, I can’t ask you to forgive me, and I know that you won’t believe it, but the truth is that I — I forgot!”

John Galt had written an equation on Quentin’s blackboard, prompting hours of happy discussion about physics. When Galt invited him to leave the world behind, he jumped at the chance.

Galt takes her on a tour. They see the only two-storey house (Mr. Mulligan’s). They see Sanders’ farm with sheep, horses, and pigs, plus a metal hangar; he’s also the airfield attendant and has built some model of tractor, used in “the chicken and dairy farm of Judge Narragansett […], the wheat fields and tobacco patch of Midas Mulligan, […] in the orchards of Richard Halley.” They visit a calm turquoise lake which apparently serves as a water supply. Dick McNamara is there and says he’s had to hire three new men in the past year…

“…one of them is a professor of economics who couldn’t get a job outside, because he taught that you can’t consume more than you have produced — one is a professor of history who couldn’t get a job because he taught that the inhabitants of slums were not the men who made this country — and one is a professor of psychology who couldn’t get a job because he taught that men are capable of thinking.”

“They work for you as plumbers and linesmen?”

“You’d be surprised how good they are at it.”

[…] As they drove on along the edge of the lake, she asked, “You’ve mapped this route deliberately, haven’t you? You’re showing me all the men whom” — she stopped, feeling inexplicably reluctant to say it, and said, instead — “whom I have lost?”

“I’m showing you all the men whom I have taken away from you,” he answered firmly.

They see a “Wyatt Oil” sign beside a series of pipes and valves along a rock face, leading to a tank. Ellis Wyatt says he produces 200 barrels of oil a day.

“one gallon of it is worth more than a trainful back there in hell — because this is mine, all of it, every single drop of it, to be spent on nothing but myself.” […] I’m richer now than I was in the world. What’s wealth but the means of expanding one’s life? There’s two ways one can do it: either by producing more or by producing it faster. And that’s what I’m doing: I’m manufacturing time. […] It used to take me five hours to fill that tank. It now takes three. The two I saved are mine […].

They visit Andred Stockton at Stockton Foundry, where Ken Dannager also works. Dagny realizes it was Galt who had been in Dannager’s office on his last day. They pass a cafeteria where she notices an actress that disappeared long ago, Mulligan Bank, Mulligan Mint where the town’s gold and silver coins are made, and then by numerous homes including those of the disappeared industrialists. A small, old-looking log cabin lies at the end of the path, marked with the d’Anconia coat-of-arms.

“That was the first man I took away from you.”

She asks about a small granite building with wires branching out from the roof.

She saw the faint break of his smile. “The powerhouse.”

“Oh, stop, please!”

He does stop, and after Dagny dreams for a moment of these small structures replacing the power plants of the country, she reads the inscription cut in granite:


“What’s that?”

“It’s the oath that was taken by every person in this valley, but you.”

She said, looking at the words, “This has always been my own rule of living.”

“I know it.”

“But I don’t think that yours is the way to practice it.”

“Then you’ll have to learn which one of us is wrong.”

She tries to open door; it’s locked. “Only a thought can open that door,” he explains. “I’ll show you how it’s done.” He stands before the door and recites the words of the oath; the door opens by itself. He closes it once more. “I know that you won’t pronounce those words until you mean them the way I intended them to be meant.”

After sleeping, she goes to dinner at Midas Mulligan’s house with Ellis Wyatt, Ken Danagger, Hugh Akston, Dr. Hendricks, Quentin Daniels, Richard Halley and Judge Narragansett. Dagny says,

“This looks like […] that dream you imagine in childhood, when you think that some day, in heaven, you will see […] the great men you would like to meet.”

“That’s not all,” said Danagger. “There’s something you’d want to hear from them. I didn’t know it, either, until I saw him for the first time” — he pointed to Galt — “and he said it to me, and then I knew what it was that I had missed all my life. Miss Taggart, you’d want them to look at you and to say, ‘Well done’.”

She dropped her head and nodded silently, head down, not to let him see the sudden spurt of tears to her eyes.

[…] “The Fifth Concerto?” said Richard Halley, in answer to her question. “I wrote it ten years ago. We call it the Concerto of Deliverance. “ […] It’s dedicated to him.” He pointed to Galt. “I’ve written more in the last ten years than in any other period of my life.”

“No, Miss Taggart, I have not given up medicine,” said Dr. Hendricks, in answer to her question. “I have spent the last six years on research. I have discovered a method to protect the blood vessels of the brain from that fatal rupture which is known as a brain stroke.’ […]

“The law, Miss Taggart?” said Judge Narragansett . “What law? I did not give it up — it has ceased to exist. But I am still working in the profession I had chosen, which was that of serving the cause of justice. […] I am writing a treatise on the philosophy of law, I shall demonstrate that humanity’s darkest evil, the most destructive horror machine among all the devices of men, is non-objective law.” […]

“Given up?” said Hugh Akston. “Check your premises, Miss Taggart. None of us has given up. It is the world that has…. What is wrong with a philosopher running a roadside diner? Or a cigarette factory, as I am doing now?

“Why?” she cried. “Why? What are you doing, all of you?”

“We are on strike,” said John Galt. […] “This is the strike of the men of the mind.”

Galt spends over three pages expounding on his moral convictions.

“It was you who started this strike?” she asked.

“I did.” […] “We’ve heard so much about strikes,” he said, “and about the dependence of the uncommon man upon the common. We’ve heard it shouted that the industrialist is a parasite, that his workers support him, create his wealth, make his luxury possible— and what would happen to him if they walked out? Very well. I propose to show to the world who depends on whom, who supports whom, who is the source of wealth, who makes whose livelihood possible and what happens to whom when who walks out.”

Each of the others at the table gives an editorial about why they went on strike and their moral convictions. Hugh Akston quit because he could not share his profession with men like Dr. Pritchett “who claim that the qualification of an intellectual consists of denying the existence of the intellect”. Judge Narragansett and Midas Mulligan quit when the court of appeals ruled in favor of Lee Hunsaker; Midas describes his decision as “the principle of love”, but doesn’t really explain what he means by that. Judge Narragansett quit because “the laws they asked me to enforce made me the executor of the vilest injustice conceivable”. Ellis Wyatt quit “because I didn’t wish to serve as the cannibals’ meal and to do the cooking, besides”. Quentin Daniels quit because “the scientist who places his mind in the service of brute force is the longest-range murderer on earth”. Dr. Hendricks quit when medicine was placed under state control:

“I would not place at the disposal of men whose sole qualification to rule me was their capacity to spout the fraudulent generalities that got them elected to the privilege of enforcing their wishes at the point of a gun.”

Richard Halley’s unhappiness is… confusing:

It was their view of my success that I could not forgive. […] If my work was new, I had to give them time to learn, if I took pride in being first to break a trail to a height of my own, I had no right to complain if others were slow to follow. That was what I had told myself through all those years — except on some nights, when I could neither wait nor believe any longer […]. Then, on the night when they chose to cheer me, I stood before them on the stage of a theater, thinking that this was the moment I had struggled to reach, wishing to feel it, but feeling nothing. I was seeing all the other nights behind me, hearing the ‘why?’ which still had no answer — and their cheers seemed as empty as their snubs. […] But what I saw in their faces, and in the way they spoke when they crowded to praise me, was the thing I had heard being preached to artists […]. They seemed to say that they owed me nothing, that their deafness had provided me with a moral goal, that it had been my duty to struggle, to suffer, to bear — for their sake — whatever sneers, contempt, injustice, torture they chose to inflict upon me […]. It was that night that I took the oath never to let them hear another note of mine. The streets were empty when I left that theater, I was the last one to leave — and I saw a man whom I had never seen before, waiting for me in the light of a lamppost. He did not have to tell me much. But the concerto I dedicated to him is called the Concerto of Deliverance.”

Finally, Galt says it was his “refusal to be born with any original sin.”

That night, at the Twentieth Century meeting, when I heard an unspeakable evil being spoken in a tone of moral righteousness, I saw the root of the world’s tragedy, the key to it and the solution. I saw what had to be done. I went out to do it.”

“And the motor?” she asked. “Why did you abandon it? Why did you leave it to the Starnes heirs?”

“It was their father’s property. He paid me for it. It was made on his time. But I knew that it would be of no benefit to them and that no one would ever hear of it again. It was my first experimental model.”

[…] “Did you expect a chance to rebuild it elsewhere?”


“What did you do, when you walked out of the Twentieth Century?” she asked.

“I went out to become a flame-spotter. I made it my job to watch for those bright flares in the growing night of savagery, which were the men of ability, the men of the mind — to watch their course, their struggle and their agony — and to pull them out, when I knew that they had seen enough.”

“What did you tell them to make them abandon everything?”

“I told them that they were right.” … “I gave them the pride they did not know they had. I gave them the words to identify it. I gave them […] a moral sanction.

“Who were the first to follow you?”

“My two best friends. You know one of them. You know, perhaps better than anyone else, what price he paid for it. Our own teacher, Dr. Akston, was next. He joined us within one evening’s conversation. William Hastings, who had been my boss in the research laboratory of Twentieth Century Motors, had a hard time, fighting it out with himself. It took him a year. But he joined. Then Richard Halley. Then Midas Mulligan.”

Mulligan had established the valley, and stocked it to be self-supporting. He then invited Judge Narragansett and Richard Halley. Galt explains that they had only one rule: each man was not to give to the world the benefit of his mind (he seems to forget rule zero: don’t talk about the fight club). Eventually they set aside one month per year to spend in the valley, to rest and “live in a rational world”. Mulligan says

“We are not a state here, not a society of any kind — we’re just a voluntary association of men held together by nothing but every man’s self-interest. I own the valley and I sell the land to the others, when they want it. Judge Narragansett is to act as our arbiter, in case of disagreements. He hasn’t had to be called upon, as yet. […] The time is approaching when all of us will have to be called to live here — because the world is falling apart so fast that it will soon be starving. But we will be able to support ourselves in this valley.”

“Your frozen trains, the gangs of raiders, the deserters, they’re men who’ve never heard of us, and they’re not part of our strike, they are acting on their own — it’s the natural response of whatever rationality is still left in them — it’s the same kind of protest as ours.”

Said Galt, “[…] but now we think that we will see, and soon, the day of our victory and of our return.” […] “When the code of the looters has collapsed.”

Part 3, Chapter 2: The Utopia of Greed

Dagny feels pure joy preparing breakfast while Galt is out. A beautiful blong-haired man arrives looking for John and is introduced as Ragnar Danneskjöld when Galt returns. Francisco is absent, which is strange because it is June 1st; Galt, Ragnar and Francisco, three students of Hugh Akston and Dr. Stadler, had decided to stop the motor of the world, and have met for breakfast every June 1st for the last twelve years. Ragnar reports that none of his men died in the last year:

“I was much more safe than if I were running a small-town drugstore under Directive 10-289.” […] “The looters lost most of their ships to me — and most of their men to you.”

Ragnar wants to explain how Rearden saved his life, but Galt stops him forcefully. Ragnar also tells of how he loaded a plane with gold beyond its safe capacity. When he explains how he steals from the government and gives to wealthy taxpayers, she thinks “his course was just, and this was the horror of it, that there was no other course for justice to select, that she could not condemn him, that she could neither approve nor utter a word of reproach.” There is a gold-standard account for Dagny if she joins them. He leaves to meet his wife, the actress Kay Ludlow.

“how can she live through eleven months of thinking that you, at any moment, might be … ?”

“She can live through it, Miss Taggart, because we do not hold the belief that this earth is a realm of misery where man is doomed to destruction.”

Galt says he won’t let her leave the valley. “There’s no rule demanding that I hold you, but by forcing your way here, you’ve given me the right to any choice I make — and I’m going to hold you simply because I want you here. If, at the end of a month, you decide that you wish to go back, you will be free to do so. Not until then.” Dagny asks Galt to hire her as a servant to pay for her room and board. Later, Owen Kellogg arrives and is shocked to see Dagny alive. He had told Hank about her plane going missing.

Francisco arrives and is overjoyed to see Dagny, since he had been searching for her plane. He says he left the world because he loved her:

“I was ready for him, when he called me suddenly to come to New York, that spring. I had not heard from him for some time. He was fighting the same problem I was. He solved it. Do you remember? It was the time when you did not hear from me for three years. […] When I began to deal with the whole industrial system of the world, […] I began to see the nature of the evil I had suspected, but thought too monstrous to believe. I saw the tax-collecting vermin that had grown for centuries like mildew on d’Anconia Copper […]. I had seen, […] what it was that I had to fight for. It was for the way you looked that night, for the way you talked about your railroad — for the way you had looked when we tried to see the skyline of New York from the top of a rock over the Hudson — I had to save you, to clear the way for you, to let you find your city […]. I knew that if I were to lose you, it was still you that I would be winning with every year of the battle. But you see it now, don’t you? You’ve seen this valley. It’s the place we set out to reach when we were children, you and I. […]”

Galt persuades Francisco not to tell Hank about Dagny. “Do you wish to give any outsider any relief from the consequences of remaining outside?” In his house, Francisco explains that he’s built a new, secret copper mine in the mountains of Colorado.

“the rebirth of d’Anconia Copper — and of the world — has to start here, in the United States. This country was the only country in history born […] as a rational product of man’s mind.”

It becomes clear that Dagny and Galt are sexually attracted to each other when Galt explains how he had been watching her for years. She also realizes he is the ideal man she had always had in her mind.

“Every man that your railroad needed and lost in the past ten years,” he said, “it was I who made you lose him. […] if you choose to go back, I will see it collapse upon your head.”

Dagny meets a baker who apparently came to the valley together with her husband; they have two sons. She says her “profession” is motherhood (with no mention of whether she is paid, and whether there are any paid schoolteachers).

“I came here in order to bring up my sons as human beings. I would not surrender them to the educational systems devised to stunt a child’s brain, to convince him that reason is impotent…”

Next, Akston drones on for several pages about his (objectivist) philosophy, the backstory of his special students, and the evil of Dr. Stadler: that he “had the mind to know better.”

“John came back for his postgraduate course in physics. But he did not finish it. He left, on the day when Robert Stadler endorsed the establishment of a State Science Institute.”

Later, Francisco shows Dagny his D’Anconia Copper No. 1 mine with Galt. Dagny thinks she can build a small-guage rail line from the mine to the town. Francisco asks her to stay with him for the final week of the month; Dagny says she’s an employee and asks that Galt decides for her; Galt decides “no”; Dagny’s relieved because Galt is acting in self-interest.

At the grocery store, Dagny hears a plane overhead and rushes to use the telescope at the airfield control tower. She sees Hank’s plane (the camoflauge apparently works in only one direction) but can’t easily contact him and takes no action but to think on it. Soon, the end of the month draws near and they ask her: yes or no?

“If any part of your uncertainty,” said Galt, “is a conflict between your heart and your mind—follow your mind.” “Don’t consider our interests or desires,” said Francisco. “You have no duty to anyone but yourself. “

Galt is considering going back out into the world; the others point out how dangerous it is getting out there, and what a valuable mind he has, but he is unmoved.

Finally, Dagny decides to leave without taking the oath.

“So long as men desire to live, I cannot lose my battle.”

“Do they?” said Hugh Akston softly. “Do they desire it? […] Just take that question back with you, as the last premise left for you to check.”

“We must discuss the conditions of your departure,” said Galt; he spoke in the dispassionate manner of an executive. “First, you must give us your word that you will not disclose our secret or any part of it — neither our cause nor our existence nor this valley nor your whereabouts for the past month — to anyone in the outer world, not at any time or for any purpose whatsoever.”

“I give you my word.”

“Second, you must never attempt to find this valley again. You are not to come here uninvited. Should you break the first condition, it will not place us in serious danger. Should you break the second — it will. […] We shall, therefore, leave you no means to do it. You will be taken out of the valley by plane, blindfolded, and you will be flown a distance sufficient to make it impossible for you ever to retrace the course.”

She inclined her head. “You are right.”

“Your plane has been repaired. Do you wish to reclaim it by signing a draft on your account at the Mulligan Bank?”


(Why?! It’s not even your plane, Dagny! It’s not even TT’s plane!)

“Then we shall hold it, until such time as you choose to pay for it. Day after tomorrow, I will take you in my plane to a point outside the valley and leave you within reach of further transportation.”

She inclined her head. “Very well.”

Back in their living room, Dagny says to Galt,

“You are going back to the outer world because I will be there.”


“I do not want you to go.”

“You have no choice about it.”

“Will you allow me to see you there?”


“Is your purpose to protect me?”


“What is it, then?”

“To be there on the day when you decide to join us.”

47 minutes after takeoff, Galt drops her off and points toward a town in the distance.

Part 3, Chapter 3: Anti-Greed

Ferris orders Stadler to a plain in Iowa to witness a historical event “which will become a milestone on the road of science, civilization, social welfare and political adaptability”. There is a strange, heavy structure a thousand feet away with oddly-shaped funnels protruding from it. Ferris introduces, to an invited crowd of “intellectual elites” and newsmen, “the man who made it all possible—Dr. Robert Stadler!” Stadler pretends to a microphone that he has a clue what’s going on. Ferris speaks after after Mr. Thompson and Mr. Mouch arrive.

“… And it was discovered,” said Dr. Ferris, “that there are certain frequencies of sound vibration which no structure, organic or inorganic, can withstand…. “ […] “… The sound ray is controlled by a panel inside the giant underground laboratory,” said Dr. Ferris, pointing at the building on the knoll. “That panel is known to us affectionately as the ‘Xylophone’—

The experimental Xylophone, also known as the “Thompson Harmonizer”, can “cover” the countryside to a 100-mile radius but they have the technical knowledge to reach up to 300 miles. After the crowd applauds, they demonstrate what it does. Out in the field there is a barn, a water tower, a tractor, several goats chained to posts, and a steel tower built for this occasion.

All of the objects are destroyed and all of the animals are killed at the same time, each with its own unique death animation:

the goat rose into the air, upturned, its legs stretched upward and jerking, then fell into a gray pile made of seven goats in convulsions. […] The farmhouse tore into strips of clapboard and went down, followed by a geyser of the bricks of its chimney. The tractor vanished into a pancake. The water tower cracked and its shreds hit the ground while its wheel was still describing a long curve through the air […]. The steel beams and girders of the solid new trestle collapsed like a structure of matchsticks under the breath of a sigh.

One woman in the crowd fainted. Among the rest,

There was a sound of submerged hysteria in the whispers. They seemed to be waiting to be told what to think.

Stadler asks Ferris, “Who invented that ghastly thing?”

“You did.” […] “It is merely a practical appliance,” said Dr. Ferris pleasantly, “based upon your theoretical discoveries. It was derived from your invaluable research into the nature of cosmic rays and of the spatial transmission of energy.”

“What is the practical purpose of this invention?” […]

“It is an invaluable instrument of public security. […] It will set the country free from the fear of aggression and permit it to plan its future in undisturbed safety. […] It will eliminate all danger of war.”

“What war? What aggression? With the whole world starving […] ?”

[…] “Internal enemies can be as great a danger to the people as external ones.” […] “No private businessman or greedy industrialist would have financed Project X […] What profit could he expect from it? […] Project X had to be a non-profit venture.”

(If you’re wondering who really invented the Xylophone, no, Rand won’t say. I think the idea is that the SSI invented the Xylophone because it’s evil, and the reason it is evil is because it is publicly funded, or maybe because it is non-profit.)

Various men give speeches praising the invention and crediting Dr. Stadler for it. Ferris hands Stadler a printed speech and asks him to read it at the end of the hour. “In a civilized century, Ferris, in a civilized century!” he moans. Ferris gives veiled threats: “A personal opinion is the one luxury that nobody can afford today.” Stadler approaches the stand when a young newsman runs forward and urges him to tell the truth, that he had nothing to do with it and to “Tell the country what sort of people are trying to rule it! […] Tell them the truth! Save us! You’re the only one who can!”

[…] “I do not expect to be insulted by disloyal young punks with treasonable motives,” said Dr. Stadler loudly.

(Rand doesn’t explain why Stadler immediately reacts this way. I’m guessing it’s a matter of cowardice.)

Dr. Ferris […] snapped, […] distorted by rage at the unexpected and unplanned, “Give me your press card and your work permit!”

Dagny travels to the nearest airfield. Newspapers have reported Dagny’s death; she sees a reporter and reports her aliveness before boarding a plane to New York. There, she calls Hank’s hotel in Colorado. He asks what happened to her, and she gives an unconvincing story based on shards of the truth. Hanging up, Dangy feels “a violent pain”.

Señor Cuffy Meigs, who is in charge of the “Railroad Unification Plan”, is giving orders to Eddie. Dagny countermands one order but Eddie says “We’ll have to” after Meigs leaves. Eddie explains that Meigs is from Washington, and basically has all power over where trains go, and that the trains serve whomever has friends in Washington, although it’s all supposed to be for the “public welfare”. Also, Washington now pools revenue between railroads and redistributes it in a nonsensical way, based on miles of track owned, rather than based on costs or the amount of service provided, so that TT gets a disproportionate share of the revenue due to its lightly-used and unused track. Eddie explains,

“The only competition left is in the applications to the Board for permission to cancel trains. The railroad to survive will be the one that manages to run no trains at all.” […] “The president of the Atlantic Southern,” said Eddie impassively, “has committed suicide.”

“That had nothing to do with this!” yelled Taggart. […] “Well, what would you rather have had me do? Give up our transcontinental traffic? Go bankrupt?”

Dagny feeds the press a story about being found by an “old couple” after the crash, who lived rustically and could not transport her anywhere, and that she had to walk 50 miles after recovering from her injuries.

James has scheduled Dagny to be on Bertram Scudder’s radio program that night, which has 20 million listeners, to give a “morale-building speech, you know, saying that you haven’t quit. […] There’s all sorts of hysterical stuff being whispered about it, but what they whisper mostly is that ‘no decent man will work for those people.’”

“The Morale Conditioner — that ‘ s Chick Morrison — has called me three times, to make sure that nothing would go wrong. They’ve issued orders to all the news broadcasters, who’ve been announcing it all day, all over the country, telling people to listen to you tonight on Bertram Scudder’s hour.”

“You know what I think of the Washington policies and of Directive 10-289.”

“At a time like this, we can’t afford the luxury of thinking!”

[…] “So you pushed me into a public trap, where my refusal would become an embarrassing scandal for you, more embarrassing than you thought I’d dare to cause. You were counting on me to save […] the necks you stuck out. I won’t save them.”

Later, Lillian shows up to explain that the reason Hank signed the Gift Certificate is the same reason that Dagny will appear on Bertram Scudder’s broadcast tonight — the affair.

“It was I,” said Lillian softly, “who informed the bureaucrats about my husband’s adultery.”

“I am glad that you have told me,” said Dagny. “I will appear on Bertram Scudder’s broadcast tonight.”

Scudder introduces Dagny as “an impartial observer, a brilliant businesswoman who has often been critical of the government in the past and who may be said to represent the extreme, conservative viewpoint held by such giants of industry as Hank Rearden,” and allows her to speak.

“I came here to tell you about the social program, the political system and the moral philosophy under which you are now living. You have heard it said that I believe that this system has depravity as its motive, plunder as its goal, lies, fraud and force as its method, and destruction as its only result. You have also heard it said that, like Hank Rearden, I am a loyal supporter of this system […]

“It is true that I share the stand of Hank Rearden. His political convictions are mine. You have heard him denounced in the past as a reactionary who opposed every step, measure, slogan and premise of the present system. Now you hear him praised as our greatest industrialist, whose judgment on the value of economic policies may safely be trusted. It is true. You may trust his judgment. If you are now beginning to fear that you are in the power of an irresponsible evil, that the country is collapsing and that you will soon be left to starve — consider the views of our ablest industrialist […].”

“Consider all that you know about his views. At such times as he was able to speak, you have heard him tell you that this government’s policies were leading you to enslavement and destruction. Yet he did not denounce the final climax of these policies — Directive 10-289. You have heard him fighting for his rights — his and yours — for his independence, for his property. Yet he did not fight Directive 10-289. He signed voluntarily, so you have been told, the Gift Certificate that surrendered Rearden Metal to his enemies. […]

Judge his views by the motive of that action, you have constantly been told. And with this I agree unreservedly: judge his views by the motive of that action. […]

“For two years, I had been Hank Rearden’s mistress. Let there be no misunderstanding about it: I am saying this, not as a shameful confession, but with the highest sense of pride. […] Was I moved by a passion of my body? I was. Have I experienced the most violent form of sensual pleasure? I have. If this now makes me a disgraced woman in your eyes — let your estimate be your own concern. I will stand on mine.”

[…] A young intellectual of Chick Morrison’s staff stood ready to cut the broadcast off the air in case of trouble, but he saw no political significance in the speech he was hearing. […]

“I am proud that he had chosen me to give him pleasure and that it was he who had been my choice. It was not — as it is for most of you — an act of casual indulgence and mutual contempt. It was the ultimate form of our admiration for each other, with full knowledge of the values by which we made our choice. […] I wanted him, I had him, I was happy, I had known joy, a pure, full, guiltless joy, the joy you dread to hear confessed by any human being […].

“Miss Taggart,” said Bertram Scudder nervously, “aren’t we departing from the subject of … After all, your personal relationship with Mr. Rearden has no political significance which—”

“I didn’t think it had, either. […] Well, I thought that I knew everything about Hank Rearden, but there was one thing which I did not learn until today. It was the blackmail threat that our relationship would be made public that forced Hank Rearden to sign the Gift Certificate surrendering Rearden Metal. It was blackmail — blackmail by your government officials, by your rulers, by your —”

The Mic was cut. As James, Morrison, Scudder and Lillian argue about whose fault it is, no one stops her from walking out. She returns to her apartment, finding Hank there with the radio on, but silent. Broken by the events of the last month and the last day, she sobs as she has never done in her life. He tries to hold her, but she slips to the floor. Hanks expresses how much he has loved her since the first time he ever saw her, but how he only realized it when he decided to sign the Gift Certificate. He delivers a monologue about morality involving the mind-mody connection, and how his beliefs about sex and relationships have changed since the book began.

“People think that a liar gains a victory over his victim. What I’ve learned is that a lie is an act of self-abdication, because one surrenders one’s reality to the person to whom one lies, making that person one’s master, condemning oneself from then on to faking the sort of reality that person’s view requires to be faked. [… tonight] you set me free, you saved us both, you redeemed our past. […] Now I’ll tell you what it was that you wanted to tell me — because, you see, I know it and I accept: somewhere within the past month, you have met the man you love, and if love means one’s final, irreplaceable choice, then he is the only man you’ve ever loved.”

“Yes!” Her voice was half-gasp, half-scream, as under a physical blow, with shock as her only awareness. “Hank! — how did you know it?”

He smiled and pointed at the radio. “My darling, you used nothing but the past tense.”

“You never pronounced the one word you would have rightfully thrown at them, were it otherwise. You said, ‘I wanted him,’ not, ‘I love him.’ You told me on the phone today that you could have returned sooner. No other reason would have made you leave me as you did. Only that one reason was valid and right.” […] “What you’ll give him is not taken away from me, it’s what I’ve never had.”

[…] “Will you understand it, if I say that I’ll always love you?”

“I think I’ve understood it before you did.”

[…] “Who is he?”

Her chuckle of desperate amusement was involuntary. “Who is John Galt?”

[…] “That slang phrase refers to him?”

[…] “Oh yes! … There’s one thing I can tell you about him, because I discovered it earlier […]: he is the man who invented the motor we found.”

[…] “Hank, could you give up Rearden Steel?”

[…] “No!” The answer was fiercely immediate, but he added, […] “Not yet.”

(Predictably, neither of them think or talk about whether her speech will have any effect on society, since it is only themselves that they are concerned with.)

Part 3, Chapter 4: Anti-Life

Orren Boyle is now president of the new Interneighborly Amity and Development Corporation which has an exclusive contract to operate all industrial properties in the People’s States of the Southern Hemisphere. Argentina is becoming a People’s State, and the U.S. is about to grant a four billion dollar loan to the People’s States of Chile and Argentina. (about $36.5 billion in 2020 dollars.) On Sept. 2, d’Anconia Copper is to be nationalized (a year after Jim’s wedding). Señor Gonzales, a businessman whom no one had heard of a year ago, had joined the new regime of the People’s State of Chile and had “the eyes of a killer”.

Jim Taggart helped set it up in a way that would make him fabulously wealthy and powerful. At a party for the achievement, he had thrown a lot of money around, “knowing that it was easier to pay than to think”, but somehow felt an irresistable urge to escape. He leaves and carelessly gives a wad of paper, a hundred-dollar bill, to a beggar who pockets it indifferently. “Thanks, bud.” said the beggar contemptuously. Jim realizes he has a sense of indifference to money and a sense of dread knowing that he would be equally indifferent as a beggar.

Now he was hit by the chill realization that, in fact, he had never been a hypocrite: in full truth, he had never cared for money. This left another hole gaping open before him, leading into another blind alley which he could not risk seeing.

I just want to do something tonight! — he cried […] in protest in protest against whatever it was that kept forcing these thoughts into his mind — in anger at a universe where some malevolent power would not permit him to find enjoyment without the need to know what he wanted or why.

At home, he’s irritated that her wife looks high-class instead of like an “incongruous little freak”. She’s spent the last few months learning how to live in his world and to enjoy parties. He talks about his new power play which will “help the underpriveleged”.

“It’s always the poor who lack humanitarian instincts. One has to be born to wealth in order to know the finer feelings of altruism.”

“[…] I haven’t any sympathy for that welfare philosophy. I’ve seen enough of them to know what makes the kind of poor who want something for nothing. […] Jim, you don’t care about it, either. You don’t care about any of that welfare hogwash. […] What your sister did in her radio broadcast was great.”

“Yes, I know, I know, you’ve been saying that for a month.”

“Your friends in Washington […] did not deny the things she said, […] did not try to justify themselves. […]”

“That’s not true! The proper action was taken […]. Bertram Scudder was taken off the air, as a program not in the public interest at the present time. It closes the issue and there’s nothing more to be said about it.”

“About a government that works by blackmail and extortion? […] Jim, I want to understand this. Scudder wasn’t on her side — he was on yours. […] he was innocent, as far as your friends were concerned, wasn’t he?”

“I wish you wouldn’t bother with politics. You talk like a fool.”

[…] She looked at him, her eyes incredulously wide. “Then they just made him the scapegoat, didn’t they?” […] “couldn’t you have helped Scudder?”

“I?” He burst into helpless, angry laughter. “[…] I did my best to get Scudder thrown to the lions! Somebody had to be. Don’t you know that it was my neck, if some other hadn’t been found?”

[…] “Why not Dagny? Because her speech could not be discredited?”

“If you’re so damn sorry for Bertram Scudder, you should have seen him try his damndest to make them break my neck! […but] This time, he belonged to the wrong faction. […] the Tinky Holloway faction. It was pretty much of a seesaw for a while, between the Tinky Holloway faction and the Chick Morrison faction. But we won.”

“Jim,” she whispered, “is that the sort of … victories you’re winning?”

“Oh, for Christ’s sake! […] What sort of world do you think you’re living in?”

“I’m trying to find out,” she whispered.

[…] “I couldn’t help it!” he burst out in the silence. “I’m not to blame! I have to take things as I find them! It’s not I who’ve made this world!”

Jim had always refused to talk about his role at TT, even though it was what she always admired about him. Now she began to understand, and earlier she had begun to suspect, such as when he talked of his power over the industrialists:

“My job is politics. Politics. Decisions made on a national scale, affecting everything, controlling everybody. A few words on paper, a directive — changing the life of every person in every nook, cranny and penthouse of this country!”

“Yes, Jim,” she said, wishing to believe that he was, perhaps, a man of stature in the mysterious realm of Washington.

“You’ll see,” he said, pacing the room. “You think they’re powerful — those giants of industry who’re so clever with motors and furnaces? They’ll be stopped! They’ll be stripped! They’ll be brought down! They’ll be—” He noticed the way she was staring at him. “It’s not for ourselves,” he snapped hastily, “it’s for the people. […] we have no selfish ends in view, no private motives, we’re not after profit […] That’s why we’re slandered […] by all the greedy profit-chasers who can’t conceive of a […] moral ideal or — or — we couldn’t help it!” he cried suddenly, whirling to her. “With everything falling to pieces and stopping, something had to be done! We had to stop them from stopping!” […]

“Jim, don’t you feel well? Maybe you’ve worked too hard and you’re worn out and—”

“I’ve never felt better in my life!” he snapped, resuming his pacing. “[…] My work is bigger than any job you can hope to imagine. It’s above anything that grubbing mechanics like Rearden and my sister, are doing. Whatever they do, I can undo it. Let them build a track — I can come and break it, just like that!” He snapped his fingers. “Just like breaking a spine!”

“You want to break spines?” she whispered, trembling.

“I haven’t said that!” he screamed. “What’s the matter with you? I haven’t said it!”

Finally she asks TT employees about Jim, and Eddie Willers tells her the whole truth about every question she asks, simply and clearly. She goes back to her husband and asks,

“Why did you lie? Why did you let me think what I thought?”

“You should be ashamed of yourself, you should be ashamed to face me or speak to me!” […] “Have you thought of my feelings? That’s the first obligation of any wife […]!”

For the flash of one instant, she grasped the unthinkable fact of a man who was guilty and knew it and was trying to escape by inducing an emotion of guilt in his victim.

[…] “That night … those headlines … that glory … it was not you at all … it was Dagny.”

“Shut up, you rotten little bitch!” […] “Cherryl, I’m sorry, I didn’t mean it […]”

[…] “Jim, why did you marry me?”

[…] “Because I love you.” […] “Nobody’s ever loved me,” he said. “There isn’t any love in the world. People don’t feel. I feel things. Who cares about that? All they care for is time schedules and freight loads and money. I can’t live among those people. I’m very lonely. I’ve always longed to find understanding. Maybe I’m just a hopeless idealist, looking for the impossible. Nobody will ever understand me.”

“Jim,” she said, with an odd little note of severity in her voice, “what I’ve struggled for all this time is to understand you.” […] “What do you want of me?”

“Love,” he answered. […] “You don’t love me or you wouldn’t ask such a question.”

“I did love you once,” she said dully, “[…] for your courage, your ambition, your ability. But it wasn’t real, any of it.”

[…] “What a shabby idea of love!” he said.

“Jim, what is it that you want to be loved for?”

“What a cheap shopkeeper’s attitude!” … “I want to be loved for […] myself — not for my body or mind or words or works or actions.”

“But then … what is yourself?”

“If you loved me, you wouldn’t ask it. […] You’d know. You’d feel it. Why do you always try to tag and label everything? […] Don’t you ever feel—just feel?”

“[…] what I feel is fear. […] Not fear of what you can do to me, but of what you are.”

“You’re not capable of love, you cheap little gold-digger! You’re a gold-digger of the spirit. You didn’t marry me for my cash — but you married me for my ability or courage […]!”

“[…] Love is a gift — a great, free, unconditional gift that transcends and forgives everything. What’s the generosity of loving a man for his virtues? […] It’s no more than cold justice. No more than he’s earned.”

“You want it to be unearned.” … “All of you welfare preachers — it ‘ s not unearned money that you’re after. […] it’s the spirit that you want to loot. […]”

[…] “Shut up!” he screamed.

Cherryl visits Dagny’s apartment to apologize for what she said at the wedding. Dagny asks her to stay, and they have a conversation about morality and the nature of people.

“I feel terribly sorry for you, Cherryl, and I’d like to help you — not because you suffer, but because you haven’t deserved to suffer.” […] “Whenever anyone accuses some person of being ‘unfeeling,’ he means that that person is just. […] you always hear it said by a rotter […]”

[…] “Dagny, I’m afraid … of Jim and all the others … not afraid of something they’ll do […] but afraid […] afraid of what they are and … and that they exist.” “how am I to deal with people? […] They’re nothing and anything, they’re not beings, they’re only switches, just constant switches without any shape.” […] “Dagny, how did you do it? How did you manage to remain unmangled?

“By holding to just one rule.”


“To place nothing — nothing — above the verdict of my own mind.”

“You’ve taken some terrible beatings … maybe worse than I did … worse than any of us…. What held you through it?”

“The knowledge that my life is the highest of values, too high to give up without a fight.” […] “that feeling — with everything which it requires and implies — is the highest, noblest and only good on earth.”

Lillian goes to Jim’s apartment to ask him to help stop the divorce, because it would leave her in poverty. “he’s bought the judge, the clerks, the bailiffs […] — he’s bought the whole legal process […]!” … “I don’t want to let him go free! […] I won’t let the whole of my life be a total failure!” Jim says he can’t help—in all honesty. As they converse, he becomes attracted to her, and they have sex, and he enjoys it—he enjoys being himself.

Afterward, it did not disappoint him that what he had possessed was an inanimate body without resistance or response. It was not a woman that he had wanted to possess. It was not an act in celebration of life that he had wanted to perform — but an act in celebration of the triumph of impotence.

Cherryl comes home and sees evidence of what had just happened. Cherryl locks herself in her (separate) bedroom, shaking, then confronts him, who angrily admits it.

“I’m sick of having to put on an act for your righteous satisfaction! Who the hell are you, you cheap little nobody?” […] “Do you know who she was, the woman I laid? […] Mrs. Hank Rearden!”

“I suppose you will now want us to get divorced?”

He burst out laughing. “You goddamn fool! […] I wouldn’t think of divorcing you! […] I’ll lay anybody I please, and you go and do the same, like all those bitches, and keep your mouth shut!”

[…] “Why did you marry me?”

[…] “Because you were a cheap, helpless, preposterous little guttersnipe, who’d never have a chance at anything to equal me! Because I thought you’d love me! […]”

“As you are?”

“Without daring to ask what I am! Without reasons!”

“You chose me because I was worthless?”


“You’re lying, Jim. […] Those girls that you used to buy for the price of a meal, […] you would not marry one of them. You married me, because you knew that I did not accept the gutter, inside or out, that I was struggling to rise and would go on struggling — didn’t you?”

“Yes!” he cried.

[…] she screamed in physical terror […]. When she answered, her words did not quite name it, but they were the only words she could find: “You … you’re a killer … for the sake of killing …”

It was too close to the unnamed; shaking with terror, he swung out blindly and struck her in the face.

She runs away, down to the street, and thinks of how, no matter how hard she worked in life, people like Jim would simply take it away.

[…] she thought, there was Dagny — but Dagny was a lonely victim, fighting a losing battle, to be destroyed and to sink into fog like the others.

[A] social worker approached her and asked severely, “Are you in trouble?”— and saw […] the face of a wild creature who has forgotten the sound of human voices […] “It’s a disgrace to come to such a state. […] if you stopped living for your own enjoyment, stopped thinking of yourself and found some higher—”

She tore her arm loose and sprang back, then screamed in articulate sounds: “No! No! Not your kind of world!”

Cherryl runs to the end of the street keeps running, straight off a parapet, to drown in the river.

Part 3, Chapter 5

The economy continues to deteriorate as there is no such thing as a “regular” train schedule anymore.

There was no way to tell which devastation had been accomplished by the humanitarians and which by undisguised gangsters. […] Both were alike […].

On Sept. 2, a secret 10 AM session of the Chilean legislature was to nationalize d’Anconia Copper, but at 10 AM sharp, the ore docks of d’Anconia Copper in Chile, as well as d’Anconia facilities around the world, are blown to bits with explosives. Every employee had been laid off and evacuated one hour earlier.

Hank tells Dagny his production limits have been lifted.

[…] “the gangster of the moment told me to go full steam ahead.” He shrugged. “When another gangster kicks him out tomorrow, I’ll probably be shut down […].”

[…] “Tired, Hank?”

“Bored to death.”

Hank’s got the hang of buying and selling on the black market, but there is no source of copper, and he is concerned that all supplies of grain will run out in the winter, so he is doing his best to sell metal “on credit” to the farm-equipment industry.

Francisco puts a message on a skyscraper in New York: “Brother, you asked for it! Francisco Domingo Carlos Andres Sebastián d’Anconia”

Even though Hank still gives him an allowance, Philip goes to Hank’s mills to demand a job, repeatedly, even though he has no skills, using the same silly reasoning the villains have used throughout the entire book—word for word. (Later it turns out that Philip was send by Washington man Claude Slagenhop.)

The Wet Nurse also asks for a job, and has some minor skills to offer, but he’s more useful to Hank as a friendly Deputy Director of Distribution and can’t legally change jobs anyway. The Wet Nurse says the government is up to something and has been “slipping” “goons” into the plant to replace deserters.

Old copper wires occasionally break in critical equipment all over the company and there are none to replace them, which is causing problems (Rand seems unaware that copper wire can usually be patched with solder or steel wire) but Dagny is shipping bits of leftover wire stock around the country to help. Then, the government seizes all copper mines to operate as a public utility. All over the country, employees are calling Dagny to ask for rail spikes, screwdrivers, nails, light bulbs and such.

A low-level employee calls to tell her that trains are about to stop running out of Minnesota Division, where all grain silos are full, because few cars have been sent to pick up the grain harvest. Dagny investigates, discovering it was caused by orders of Cuffy Meigs. The cars were redirected to Louisiana to pick up soybeans from a government project run by Kip Chalmer’s mother, who believes soybeans are better than wheat. People resort to moving grain in coal cars and passenger cars and in trucks. Farmers are setting fire to their own farms and grain elevators and homes of county officials. Farm equipment manufacturers are going bankrupt and defaulting on loans from Hank Rearden. Meanwhile, the soybeans were harvested prematurely and had gone moldy for consumption.

Jim asks Dagny to attend a dinner with Mouch, Meigs, Ferris, Weatherby et al. There, the men want to cut service to Minnesota. Dagny tries to use facts to persuade them to let TT focus entirely on regional traffic in the Eastern U.S., to safeguard the country’s industrial production, but they all ignore her.

She had thought that industrial production was a value not to be questioned by anyone; she had thought that these men’s urge to expropriate the factories of others was their acknowledgment of the factories’ value. She, born of the industrial revolution, had not held as conceivable […] what these men knew in their secret, furtive souls, knew not by means of thought, but by means of that nameless muck which they called their instincts and emotions: that so long as men struggle to stay alive, they’ll never produce so little but that the man with the club won’t be able to seize it and leave them still less — […] that men who live by pulling levers at an electric switchboard, are not easily ruled, but men who live by digging the soil with their naked fingers, are — that the feudal baron did not need electronic factories in order to drink his brains away out of jeweled goblets […]

She is called away from the dinner because a copper wire had failed in a control tower in Taggart Terminal in NYC, which caused a short circuit in the “interlocking traffic system” and caused signal lights stop working, halting all train traffic. Dagny takes a taxi to the terminal and takes charge, ordering copper wire be salvaged from a temporarily suspended line, hiring a signal engineer from Chicago for $3,000 for 24 hours (~$27,000 2020 dollars), asking for lanterns, and asking all available personnel to begin moving switches by hand, using lanterns as signals. Still wearing a dress and diamonds from the dinner, she says

“There’s nothing in the union contracts about men standing with lanterns. There’s going to be trouble. The union will object.”

“The tower director will assign switchmen to their posts. He will select men for the job of signaling trains by means of lanterns and for the task of transmitting his orders. Trains will—”

She sees that John Galt is among the workers, with greasy overalls, and finishes speaking. Afterwards they find each other in the tunnels and have passionate sex there. He talks of how he loved to watch her. She realizes that the shadow that appeared at her John Galt Line office had been… John Galt!

“I saw your shadow … on the pavement … pacing back and forth … it looked like a struggle … it looked like—” She stopped; she did not want to say “torture.”

“It was,” he said quietly. “[…] That was the night I came closest to breaking my oath, when I saw you […] broken by the burden you were carrying—”

[…] She whispered, “You’ve been a track laborer, here — here! — for twelve years .

[…] “Ever since I quit the Twentieth Century.”

“The night when you saw me for the first time … you were working here, then?”

“Yes. And the morning when you offered to work for me as my cook, I was only your track laborer on leave of absence. Do you see why I laughed as I did?”

She was looking up at his face; hers was a smile of pain, his — of pure gaiety, “John … all those years … while the railroad was perishing … while I was searching for men of intelligence …” […] “… while you were combing the country for the inventor of my motor, while you were feeding James Taggart and Wesley Mouch, while you were naming your best achievement after the enemy whom you wanted to destroy.”

[…] “I was here all those years,” he said, “within your reach, inside your own realm, watching your struggle, your loneliness, your longing, watching you in a battle you thought you were fighting for me, a battle in which you were supporting my enemies and taking an endless defeat — I was here, hidden by nothing but an error of your sight […], waiting for the day when you would see […], and what I did tonight, I did it with full knowledge that I would pay for it and that my life might have to be the price,”


He smiled, nodding. “Oh yes. You know that you’ve broken me for once, that I broke the decision I had set for myself — but I did it consciously, knowing […] since I chose to take what I wanted before it was fully mine, I’ll have to pay for it, I have no way of knowing how or when, I know only that if I give in to an enemy, I’ll take the consequences. […] My actual enemies are of no danger to me. You are. You’re the only one who can lead them to find me. They would never have the capacity to know what I am, but with your help — they will.”


“No, not by your intention. And you’re free to change your course, but so long as you follow it, you’re not free to escape its logic. […] Would you like me to repair that interlocking signal system of yours within an hour?”

“No!” The cry was immediate — in answer to the flash of a sudden image, the image of the men in the private dining room [she had left].

He laughed. “Why not?”

“I don’t want to see you working as their serf!”

“And yourself?”

“I think that they’re crumbling and that I’ll win. I can stand it just a little longer.”

“True, it’s just a little longer — not till you win, but till you learn.” […] “I will remain here, on my job,” he said. “But don’t try to see me. […] When you’re ready to quit […] just chalk a dollar sign on the pedestal of Nat Taggart’s statue — where it belongs — then go home and wait […] 24 hours […]”

Part 3, Chapter 6

There are enough new goons in Rearden’s steel mill to vote a demand to raise wages. The Unification Board rejects the petition, and the newspapers of the country, “controlled by the same men who controlled the Board”, print stories about the refusal to raise wages, about hardships of the mill workers due to the rising cost of living, and other stories meant to make Rearden look bad. The new workers begin sabotaging things so that newspapers can talk about the “inflammatory” situation.

(I am still wondering why Rand’s news media usually sticks to saying things that are misleading but technically true.)

His personal funds at the bank are temporarily confiscated due to a “mistake”. Tinky Holloway invites him to New York for a meeting about straightening out recent “misunderstandings”. Hank declines, but Tinky practically begs him and he accepts. The new workers are acting slightly suspiciously. The next morning, his mother calls and begs for a meeting. He comes home at 4 PM; Lillian and Philip are there.

“Lillian’s been living here ever since your divorce,” she answered defensively. “I couldn’t let her starve on the city pavements, could I?”

She asks for financial help because they can’t cash their allowance checks, but he declines to help since he has no money (aside from the unmentioned gold bar), and declines to ask the grocer for credit because “I will not assume debts I have no way of repaying.”

“These are terrible times, and we’re scared […], because you’re turning away from us. Oh, I don’t mean just that grocery bill, but that’s a sign […] Now … now you don’t care.” She made an expectant pause. “Do you?”


“Well … well, I guess the blame is ours. That’s what I wanted to tell you — that we know we’re to blame. […] We’ve been unfair to you, we’ve made you suffer, we’ve used you and given you no thanks in return. We’re guilty, Henry, we’ve sinned against you, and we confess it. […] Will you find it in your heart to forgive us?”

“What is it you want me to do?” he asked, in the clear, flat tone of a business conference.

“I don’t know! […] But that’s not what I’m talking of right now. […] It’s your feeling that I’m begging you for, Henry — just your feeling — even if we don’t deserve it. You’re generous and strong. […] Will you forgive us?”

The look of terror in her eyes was real. […] But he was through with granting respect to any terms other than his own.

“Mother, it would be best not to speak of that. Don’t press me to tell you why. I think you know it as well as I do. […]”

“But I don’t understand you! I don’t! That’s what I called you here for — to ask your forgiveness!”

“Very well. What would it mean, my forgiveness?”

“Why, it … it would make us feel better.”

“Will it change the past?” […] “Do you wish me to pretend that the past has not existed?”

“Oh God, Henry, can’t you see? All we want is only to know that you … that you feel some concern for us.”

“I don’t feel it. Do you wish me to fake it?”

“But that’s what I’m begging you for — to feel it!”

“On what ground?” […] “In exchange for what?”

“Henry, Henry, it’s not business we’re talking about […] and you talk like a trader!”

“I am one.”

What he saw in her eyes was terror — not the helpless terror of struggling and failing to understand, but the terror of being pushed toward the edge where to avoid understanding would no longer be possible.

“Look, Henry,” said Philip hastily, “Mother can’t understand those things. We don’t know how to approach you. We can’t speak your language.”

“I don’t speak yours.”

“What she’s trying to say is that we’re sorry. We’re terribly sorry that we’ve hurt you. […] We’re suffering remorse.” The pain in Philip’s face was real. A year ago, Rearden would have felt pity. Now, he knew that they had held him through nothing but his reluctance to hurt them, his fear of their pain. He was not afraid of it any longer.

“We’re sorry, Henry. We know we’ve harmed you. We wish we could atone for it. But what can we do? The past is past. We can’t undo it.”

“Neither can I.”

“You can accept our repentance,” said Lillian, in a voice glassy with caution. “I have nothing to gain from you now. I only want you to know that whatever I’ve done, I’ve done it because I loved you.”

“Henry!” cried his mother. “[…] What’s changed you like that? […] You keep beating us with logic — what’s logic at a time like this? […]” She looked away, avoiding the clarity of his eyes. “Don’t you care what becomes of us?”

“I don’t.”

“Aren’t you human?” Her voice grew shrill with anger. “Aren’t you capable of any love at all? It’s your heart I’m trying to reach, not your mind! Love is not something to argue and reason and bargain about! It’s something to give! To feel! Oh God, Henry, can’t you feel without thinking?”

“I never have.”

In a moment, her voice came back, low and droning: “[…] How are we to cope with it, if you leave us? We’re small and weak and we’ll be swept like driftwood in that terror that’s running loose in the world. Maybe we had our share of guilt for it, maybe we helped to bring it about, not knowing any better, but what’s done is done — and we can’t stop it now. If you abandon us, we’re lost. If you give up and vanish, like all those men who—”

“So that’s what you’re afraid of,” he said slowly.

“You can’t quit!” his mother screamed in blind panic.

“Keep still!” cried Lillian, more adept than the others at reading danger signs in Rearden’s face.

There it was — he thought, looking at his family — the nature of their pleas for mercy, the logic of those feelings they so righteously proclaimed as non-logical — there was the simple, brutal essence of all men who speak of being able to feel without thought and of placing mercy over justice. […] they had grasped […], before he had, […] his only course was to drop it all and run — yet they wanted to hold him, to keep him in the sacrificial furnace, to make him let them devour the last of him in the name of mercy, forgiveness and brother-cannibal love.

“If you still want me to explain it, Mother,” he said very quietly, “if you’re still hoping that I won’t be cruel enough to name what you’re pretending not to know, then here’s what’s wrong with your idea of forgiveness: You regret that you’ve hurt me and, as your atonement for it, you ask that I offer myself to total immolation.”

“Logic!” she screamed. “There you go again with your damn logic! It’s pity that we need, pity, not logic!”

He rose to his feet.

“Wait! Don’t go! Henry, don’t abandon us! Don’t sentence us to perish! Whatever we are, we’re human! We want to live!”

“Why, no—” he started in quiet astonishment and ended in quiet horror, as the thought struck him fully, “I don’t think you do. If you did, you would have known how to value me.”

As if in silent proof and answer, […] “You won’t be able to quit and run away,” said Philip. “You can’t run away without money.”

[…] “So that’s the purpose of the attachment order. That’s what your friends are afraid of. I knew they were getting set to spring something on me today. I didn’t know that the attachment was their idea of cutting off escape.” He turned incredulously to look at his mother. “And that’s why you had to see me today, before the conference in New York.”

“Mother didn’t know it!” cried Philip, then caught himself and cried louder, “I don’t know what you’re talking about! I haven’t said anything! I haven’t said it!” […]

“You think you’re so good, don’t you?” It was a sudden cry and it came from Lillian […]. “[…] You’re so proud of yourself! Well, I have something to tell you!”

[…] in sudden clarity he knew what her game had been and why she had married him. […] she had chosen him as one chooses an object of love, as the symbol of man’s living power, but the destruction of that power had been her goal. […] The lust that drives others to enslave an empire, had become, in her limits, a passion for power over him. She had set out to break him, as if, unable to equal his value, she could surpass it by destroying it, as if the measure of his greatness would thus become the measure of hers, as if — he thought with a shudder — as if […] the murderer who killed a child were greater than the mother who had given it birth.

He remembered her desire to see him drunk, just once, her attempts to push him into infidelity, her pleasure at the thought that he had fallen to the level of some sordid romance, her terror on discovering that that romance had been an attainment, not a degradation. Her line of attack, which he had found so baffling, had been constant and clear — it was his self-esteem she had sought to destroy, […] his confident rectitude she had wanted to shatter by means of the poison of guilt — as if, were he to collapse, his depravity would give her a right to hers.

“I have something to tell you!” cried Lillian, “Well, I think you’d like to know that your wife’s been laid by another man! I’ve been unfaithful to you, do you hear me? I’ve been unfaithful, not with some great, noble lover, but with the scummiest louse, with Jim Taggart! […] While I was still your wife!”

He stood listening like a scientist studying a subject of no personal relevance whatever. There, he thought, was the final abortion of the creed of collective interdependence, the creed of non-identity, nonproperty, non-fact: the belief that the moral stature of one is at the mercy of the action of another. […] Her voice trailed off. He had not known what the destruction of a person would be like; but he knew that he was seeing the destruction of Lillian. […] the look of a person seeing that after years of preaching non-existence, she had achieved it.

His mother stopped him at the door […]. “Are you really incapable of forgiveness?”

[…] “I would have forgiven the past — if, today, you had urged me to quit and disappear.”

Rearden meets Mouch, Lawson, Taggart, Ferris and Tinky Holloway in the Wayne-Falkland Hotel.

“There’s no reason why you should have remained an outsider for so long, when your voice is needed at the top level of national leadership.”

[…] “What did you want?” he asked.

“Why … to listen to you, Mr. Rearden,” said Wesley Mouch, the jerk of his features imitating a frightened smile; the smile was faked, the fear was real. “We … we want the benefit of your opinion on the nation’s industrial crisis.”

[…] “I don’t co-operate at the point of a gun.”

[…Ferris:] “If there’s any aspect of our policy which you oppose, just tell us and we’ll issue a directive to—”

[…] “Now do you tell me what clout on my head you’re working so hard not to let me notice — or do I go home?”

“Oh no, Mr. Rearden!” cried Lawson, with a sudden dart of his eyes to his wrist watch. “You can’t go now! […]”

They explain a plan to grant a 5% increase in steel prices, a 3% increase in ore prices, no wage increase, and to adapt the obviously moronic Railroad Unification Plan to the steel industry, which will pay companies based only on capacity, ignoring production:

“Our Plan Is really very simple,” said Tinky Holloway, striving to prove it by the gaily bouncing simplicity of his voice. “We’ll lift all restrictions from the production of steel and every company will produce all it can, according to its ability. But to avoid the waste and danger of dog-eat-dog competition, all the companies will deposit their gross earnings into a common pool, to be known as the Steel Unification Pool, in charge of a special Board. At the end of the year, the Board will distribute these earnings by totaling the nation’s steel output and dividing it by the number of open-hearth furnaces in existence, thus arriving at an average which will be fair to all— and every company will be paid according to its need. The preservation of its furnaces being its basic need, every company will be paid according to the number of furnaces it owns.”

The plan will chiefly benefit Orren Boyle, who has lower production but three times as many furnaces.

[…] “I don’t see why pumping my earnings into Orren Boyle’s pocket is going to save the country.”

[…] “You have to make certain sacrifices to the public welfare!”

[…] “How long do you expect me to be able to produce at a loss?”

“Oh, Mr. Rearden, I have complete faith in you!”

“We can’t theorize about the future,” cried Wesley Mouch, “[…] If you don’t like it, do you have a better solution to offer?”

“Sure,” said Rearden easily. “If it’s production that you want, then get out of the way, junk all of your damn regulations, let Orren Boyle go broke, let me buy the plant of Associated Steel — and it will be pouring a thousand tons a day from every one of its sixty furnaces.”

“Oh, but … but we couldn’t!” gasped Mouch. “That would be monopoly!”

Rearden chuckled. “Okay,” he said indifferently, “then let my mill’s superintendent buy it. […]”

“Oh, but that would be letting the strong have an advantage over the weak! We couldn’t do that!”

[…] “All you want is production without men who’re able to produce, isn’t it?”

[…] “Well, now, look here,” said Holloway cautiously, “[…] Mr. Boyle is an extremely able man. It’s just that he’s suffered some unfortunate reverses, quite beyond his control. He had invested large sums in a public-spirited project to assist the undeveloped peoples of South America, and that copper crash of theirs has dealt him a severe financial blow. So it’s only a matter of giving him a chance to recover, a helping hand to bridge the gap, a bit of temporary assistance, nothing more. All we have to do is just equalize the sacrifice—then everybody will recover and prosper.”

“You’ve been equalizing sacrifice for over a hundred”—he stopped—”for thousands of years,” said Rearden slowly. “Don’t you see that you’re at the end of the road?”

[…] “We can’t afford any theories!” cried Wesley Mouch. “We’ve got to act!”

“Well, then, I’ll offer you another solution. Why don’t you take over my mills and be done with it?”

[…] “Oh no!” gasped Mouch.

[…] “We don’t want to harm you!” cried Lawson. “We’re your friends, Mr. Rearden. Can’t we all work together? We’re your friends.”

[…] “Look, boys,” he said wearily. “I know what you want. You want to eat my mills and have them, too. And all I want to know is this: what makes you think it’s possible?” […] “How do you expect me to produce after I go bankrupt?”

“You won’t go bankrupt. You’ll always produce,” said Dr. Ferris indifferently […] “You can’t help it. It’s in your blood. Or, to be more scientific: you’re conditioned that way.”

Rearden asks a series of questions about how things will change; all of them refuse to answer.

Then Lawson said softly, half in reproach, half in scorn, “Well, after all, you businessmen have kept predicting disasters for years, […] and told us that we’ll perish — but we haven’t.”

Rearden suddenly understands that they believe Rearden can fix their problems magically.

[…] he had given them cause to believe that reality was a thing to be cheated, […]. If he had accepted the Equalization of Opportunity Bill, if he had accepted Directive 10-289, […], that those who had not earned were to profit, but he who had was to lose, […] then were they illogical in believing that they existed in an irrational universe? Were they illogical in believing that theirs was only to wish […] and that his was to fulfill their wishes, by means they did not have to know or name? They, the impotent mystics, struggling to escape the responsibility of reason, had known that he, the rationalist, had undertaken to serve their whims. They had known that he had given them a blank check on reality […].

He was seeing the progression of the years, the monstrous extortions, […] and all of it had rested on one tenet behind the shifty eyes of the victors: […] We’ll get away with it — he’ll let us — he’ll do something!

Rearden leaves without saying a word, calmly, as calls behind him say “it’s too early!”. Approaching his mills, a mob is trying to storm the gate. The booth by the entrance is on fire. There are gunshots. Hank drives toward an alternate entrance, and sees the Wet Nurse, who has been shot.

“They shot me, so I wouldn’t talk … I wanted to prevent […] what they’re doing […] that riot … it’s staged … on orders from Washington […]. They want to make it look like you’re starving your workers […] and the government’s got to step in for your own protection and for public safety. […] Don’t let them get away with it, Mr. Rearden! … Tell the country … tell the people […] They called me in on a …a strategy conference … there was a man there by the name of Peters … from the Unification Board … he ‘ s a stooge of Tinky Holloway … who’s a stooge of Orren Boyle … […] … they wanted me to sign a lot of passes … to let some of the goons in […] I refused to sign the passes.”

He ran out to try to tell the superintendant but couldn’t find him, and the phone wires were cut. He was shot as he ran to his car, and he was thrown in a pit.

“those things they taught us … […] Dying … it wouldn’t make any difference to chemicals, but—but it does, to me … And … and, I guess, it makes a difference to an animal, too … But they said there are no values … only social customs … No values!”

The Wet Nurse knows he’s dying; Rearden asks him to fight to live — for him. “You wanted to fight my battle. Will you fight this one with me, as our first?” But he dies as Hank carries him toward the side entrance. Hank is angry at the teachers and colleges that had taught the people of the world.

For some reason his workers are armed, and protect the mills by shooting at the mob. In a hallway, someone clubs Hank on the head, but his workers rescue him while a new worker shoots the intruders in the head: it’s Francisco d’Anconia, hired two months ago as the message had appeared on the skyscraper; it is he who warned the others about the coming attack.

Part 3, Chapter 7

Hank Rearden has disappeared. A week later, Dagny receives a one-line letter:

I have met him. I don’t blame you. H. R.

Dagny looks at company records: the name “Galt, John” has been on the payroll for 12 years.

The press is finally lying outright about everything: “It is social treason to spread rumors about the disappearance of Hank Rearden. Mr. Rearden has not disappeared, he is in his office, running his mills, as usual…” “It is not true that the Jansen Motor Company of Michigan has closed its doors.” The only public admission of a crisis is the widely-advertised announcement that Mr. Thompson will give a report Nov. 22 regarding the crisis. Jim asks her to be at the “conference”.

Dagny takes Eddie with her to the TV station. There, she realizes her only purpose is to be seen in the background on camera, and she refuses to participate. Two minutes before the speech was to start, the station engineer tells everyone that all stations in the country are being jammed. A voice eminates from the blank television:

“Ladies and gentlemen, […] Mr. Thompson will not speak to you tonight. His time is up. I have taken it over. You were to hear a report on the world crisis. That is what you are going to hear. […] For twelve years, you have been asking: Who is John Galt? This is John Galt speaking. I am the man who loves his life. I am the man who does not sacrifice his love or his values. I am the man who has deprived you of victims and thus has destroyed your world, and if you wish to know why you are perishing — you who dread knowledge — I am the man who will now tell you.”

John Galt’s speech is the rest of the chapter, 72 pages long.

“You have heard it said that this is an age of moral crisis. […] You have cried that man’s sins are destroying the world […] You have sacrificed wealth to need. […] “You have destroyed all that which you held to be evil and achieved all that which you held to be good. […] Your ideal had an implacable enemy, which your code of morality was designed to destroy. […] While you were dragging to your sacrificial altars […] all the men who have vanished, the men you hated, yet dreaded to lose, it is I who have taken them away from you. […] We are on strike against self-immolation […] we have granted you everything you demanded of us, we who had always been the givers, but have only now understood it. […] Are you now crying: No, this was not what you wanted? […] Through centuries of scourges and disasters, brought about by your code of morality, you have cried that your code had been broken, that the scourges were punishment for breaking it, that men were too weak and too selfish to spill all the blood it required. […] Yes, this is an age of moral crisis. Yes, you are bearing punishment for your evil. But it is not man who is now on trial and it is not human nature that will take the blame. It is your moral code that’s through, this time.

[…] “You have heard no concepts of morality but the mystical or the social. You have been taught that morality is a code of behavior imposed on you by whim, the whim of a supernatural power or the whim of society, to serve God’s purpose or your neighbor’s welfare, to please an authority beyond the grave or else next door — but not to serve your life or pleasure. Your pleasure, you have been taught, is to be found in immorality, your interests would best be served by evil, and any moral code must be designed not for you, but against you, not to further your life, but to drain it.

[…] “For centuries, the battle of morality was fought between those who claimed that your life belongs to God and those who claimed that it belongs to your neighbors — between those who preached that the good is self-sacrifice for the sake of ghosts in heaven and those who preached that the good is self-sacrifice for the sake of incompetents on earth. And no one came to say that your life belongs to you and that the good is to live it.

[…] “But to think is an act of choice. The key to what you so recklessly call ‘human nature, ‘ the open secret you live with, yet dread to name, is the fact that man is a being of volitional consciousness. Reason does not work automatically; thinking is not a mechanical process; the connections of logic are not made by instinct. The function of your stomach, lungs or heart is automatic; the function of your mind is not.

[…] “There is only one fundamental alternative in the universe: existence or non-existence — and it pertains to a single class of entities: to living organisms. The existence of inanimate matter is unconditional, the existence of life is not: it depends on a specific course of action. […] Man has been called a rational being, but rationality is a matter of choice …

[…] “Whoever you are, you who are hearing me now, I am speaking to whatever living remnant is left uncorrupted within you, to the remnant of the human, to your mind, and I say: There is a morality of reason, a morality proper to man, and Man’s Life is its standard of value.

[…] “Sweep aside those parasites of subsidized classrooms, who live on the profits of the mind of others and proclaim that man needs no morality, no values, no code of behavior. They, who pose as scientists and claim that man is only an animal, do not grant him inclusion in the law of existence they have granted to the lowest of insects. […] Sweep aside those hatred-eaten mystics […]

[…] “If you wish to know how I have done it and what I told them to make them quit, you are hearing it now. I told them, in essence, the statement I am making tonight. They were men who had lived by my code, but had not known how great a virtue it represented. I made them see it. I brought them, not a re-evaluation, but only an identification of their values.

[…] “We, the men of the mind, are now on strike against you in the name of a single axiom, which is the root of our moral code, just as the root of yours is the wish to escape it: the axiom that existence exists.

[…] “To exist is to be something, as distinguished from the nothing of non-existence, it is to be an entity of a specific nature made of specific attributes. Centuries ago, the man who was — no matter what his errors — the greatest of. your philosophers, has stated the formula defining the concept of existence and the rule of all knowledge: A is A. A. thing is itself. You have never grasped the meaning of his statement. I am here to complete it: Existence is Identity, Consciousness is Identification.

[…] “Reality is that which exists; the unreal does not exist; the unreal is merely that negation of existence which is the content of a human consciousness when it attempts to abandon reason. Truth is the recognition of reality; reason, man’s only means of knowledge, is his only standard of truth.

[…] “A rational process is a moral process. You may make an error at any step of it, with nothing to protect you but your own severity, or you may try to cheat, to fake the evidence and evade the effort of the quest — but if devotion to truth is the hallmark of morality, then there is no greater, nobler, more heroic form of devotion than the act of a man who assumes the responsibility of thinking. […] Thinking is man’s only basic virtue […] And his basic vice, the source of all his evils, is […] the refusal to think […]

That’s a selection of quotes from the first 10 pages; I am not willing to read all 72. Among the 72 pages is one paragraph about the role of government (and none about the role of taxes):

The only proper purpose of a government is to protect man’s rights, which means: to protect him from physical violence. A proper government is only a policeman, acting as an agent of man’s self-defense, and, as such, may resort to force only against those who start the use of force. The only proper functions of a government are: the police, to protect you from criminals; the army, to protect you from foreign invaders; and the courts, to protect your property and contracts from breach or fraud by others, to settle disputes by rational rules, according to objective law. But a government that initiates the employment of force against men who had forced no one, the employment of armed compulsion against disarmed victims, is a nightmare infernal machine designed to annihilate morality: such a government reverses its only moral purpose and switches from the role of protector to the role of man’s deadliest enemy, from the role of policeman to the role of a criminal vested with the right to the wielding of violence against victims deprived of the right of self-defense. Such a government substitutes for morality the following rule of social conduct: you may do whatever you please to your neighbor, provided your gang is bigger than his.

Eventually Galt gets around to making a call for action:

“I am speaking to those who desire to live and to recapture the honor of their soul. Now that you know the truth about your world, stop supporting your own destroyers. The evil of the world is made possible by nothing but the sanction you give it. Withdraw your sanction. Withdraw your support. Do not try to live on your enemies’ terms […] do not beg for alms from those who have robbed you, be it subsidies, loans or jobs […]. Go on strike — in the manner I did […] but not to exist as a bandit or to create a gang competing with their racket; build a productive life of your own with those who accept your moral code and are willing to struggle for a human existence.”

[…] “When the looters’ state collapses, deprived of the best of its slaves, when it falls to a level of impotent chaos, like the mystic-ridden nations of the Orient, and dissolves into starving robber gangs fighting to rob one another — when the advocates of the morality of sacrifice perish with their final ideal — then and on that day we will return.

[…] “The political system we will build is contained in a single moral premise: no man may obtain any values from others by resorting to physical force. Every man will stand or fall, live or die by his rational judgment. If he fails to use it and falls, he will be his only victim.

[…] “In that world, you’ll be able to rise in the morning with the spirit you had known in your childhood: that spirit of eagerness, adventure and certainty which comes from dealing with a rational universe. […] Every chance will be open to your good, none will be provided for your evil. What you’ll receive from men will not be alms, or pity, or mercy, or forgiveness of sins, but a single value: justice. And when you’ll look at men or at yourself, you will feel, not disgust, suspicion and guilt, but a single constant: respect.

[…] “Your destroyers hold you by means of your endurance, your generosity, your innocence, your love — the endurance that carries their burdens — the generosity that responds to their cries of despair — the innocence that is unable to conceive of their evil and gives them the benefit of every doubt […] — the love, your love of life, which makes you believe that they are men and that they love it, too. But […] life is the object of their hatred. Leave them to the death they worship. […] Do you hear me … my love?

[…] “You will win when you are ready to pronounce the oath I have taken at the start of my battle — and for those who wish to know the day of my return, I shall now repeat it to the hearing of the world: “I swear — by my life and love of it — that I will never live for the sake of another man, nor ask another man to live for mine.”

Part 3, Chapter 8

“It wasn’t real, was it?” said Mr. Thompson.

[…] “We seem to have heard it,” said Tinky Holloway.

“We couldn’t help it,” said Chick Morrison.

The leadership is very confused and argue over what they just heard. “Tell them to cut it off!” screamed Wesley Mouch, after the speech was over.

“Broadcasts as usual!” ordered Mr. Thompson. “Tell them to go on with whatever programs they’d scheduled for this hour! No special announcements, no explanations! Tell them to go on as if nothing had happened!”

“The workingmen won’t go for it,” said Tinky Holloway, a bit more helpfully. “He didn’t sound like a friend of labor.”

“The women of the country won’t go for it,” declared Ma Chalmers.

“In the first place,” said Dr. Ferris, encouraged, “people can’t think. In the second place, they don’t want to.”

“Well?” said Mr. Thompson at last […] “What are we to do? Can’t somebody tell us what to do?”

[…] “I can,” [Dagny] said, addressing Mr. Thompson. “You’re to give up.”

“Give up?” he repeated blankly.

“You wish to live, don’t you? Get out of the way, if you want a chance. Let those who can, take over. He knows what to do. You don’t. He is able to create the means of human survival. You aren’t.”

“Don’t listen to her!” [Dr. Stadler] cried, his eyes avoiding hers […]. “It’s your life or his!”

“You know the truth, all of you,” she said, […] “How many corpses do you intend to pile up before you renounce it — your guns, your power, your controls and the whole of your miserable altruistic creed? […]”

“But it’s treason!” cried Eugene Lawson. “She’s talking pure treason!”

“Now, now,” said Mr. Thompson. […] “We mustn’t be intolerant. […] We’ve got to be flexible.”

Dagny and Eddie leave. Dr. Robert Stadler says “You bloody fool! […] Don’t you understand that it’s life or death? […] You must kill him,” and says that to find him they need to watch every move Dagny makes. “Isn’t it sheer chance that she hasn’t deserted you long ago? Don’t you have the wits to see that she’s one of his kind?” Mr. Thompson agrees.

“And when you find him,” Dr. Stadler asked tensely, “you’ll kill him?”

“Kill him, you damn fool? We need him!” cried Mr. Thompson. […] “Whoever he is, he’s a man of action. […] He’ll tell us what to do. He’ll make things work.”

“Mr. Thompson,” said Mouch, choking, “I …I’m afraid he’s a man who’s not open to a deal.”

“There’s no such thing,” said Mr. Thompson.

On the way home, Eddie admits he’s been talking to the man on the TV for years, though he hasn’t seen him since Dagny’s plane crash.

[…] “God, Dagny! was I protecting the railroad or was I helping to destroy it?”

“Both. Neither. It doesn’t matter now.”

Dagny urges him never to look for Galt or speak of him, except to report to Dagny if he sees him. Dagny still won’t quit the railroad.

A government report called “Public Pulse Taking” determines that “People seem to be silent.” Meanwhile, people are disappearing all over the place, especially managers and presidents, some burning down their own homes. New defective planes are crashing; trans are colliding; replacement company presidents are having drunken orgies. Broadcasts say “John Galt will solve our problems!”

[…] special agents had been sent to check on every man by the name of John Galt throughout the country. “They’re a shabby lot. There’s a John Galt who’s a professor of ornithology, eighty years old — there’s a retired greengrocer with a wife and nine children — there’s an unskilled railroad laborer who’s held the same job for twelve years — and other such trash.”

[…] In September, a bushel of wheat had cost eleven dollars […]; it was now approaching the price of two hundred — while the printing presses of the government treasury were running a race with starvation, and losing.

Rearden’s mills have a series of useless political appointees for managers; production plummets and is eventually suspended. A worker sets fire to one structure. Mr. Thompson meets with Dagny about Galt, and decline her pleas to lift controls and taxes.

[…] “There’s one clique—the Ferris-Lawson-Meigs faction—that’s been after me […] to resort to terror. Introduce the death penalty for civilian crimes, for critics, dissenters and the like. Their argument is that since people won’t co-operate, won’t act for the public interest voluntarily, we’ve got to force them to. But Wesley won’t go for strong-arm methods; Wesley is a peaceful man, a liberal, and so am I.”

She starts looking for John Galt and eventually finds his apartment, probably using the payroll list. His name listed by the front door. When he opens his door, he immediately kisses her. He says they probably half half an hour until the looters’ agents arrive to arrest him, but that they’ve surrounded the block by now. He urges her to pretend to be on the looters’ side, for otherwise they will physically torture her, and that she should accept the $500,000 reward for his capture. “At the first mention of a threat to you, I will kill myself and stop them right there.” He then shows her his ultra-modern laboratory, which includes one of his motors. They kiss again. The doorbell rings; military men enter and ask if he is “the” John Galt.

“Which one?”

[…] “Don’t let him fool you.” The metallic voice was Dagny’s and it was addressed to the leader. “He—is—John—Galt. I shall report the proof to headquarters. You may proceed.”

Galt turned to her as to a stranger. “Will you tell me now just who you are and what it was that you wanted here?”

They treat Galt in a friendly manner. Galt refuses to open the laboratory door. It takes some time to force the door open, after which they find a dark and empty room with thick gray dust on the floor. They take him to a room in the Wayne-Falkland hotel, with Mr. Thompson.

“The only reason we brought you here is just that we wanted to talk to you. […] And all we wanted was a chance to tell you that you got us all wrong. […] You’ve done something to the country — I don’t know what or why, but you have. People seem to want something you’ve got. […] Of course, I don’t agree with every word you said — but what the hell, you don’t expect us to agree with everything, do you? Differences of opinion — that’s what makes horse racing. Me, I’m always willing to change my mind. I’m open to any argument.”

Galt tells him again to “get out of the way”; Thompson says it’s impossible and they have another silly conversation where they talk past each other.

We’ve got to preserve the system. But we’re willing to amend it. We’ll modify it any way you wish. […] We’ll compromise. […] We’ll keep the sphere of politics and […] you’ll be the Economic Dictator of the nation!”

Galt burst out laughing. “So that’s your idea of a compromise, is it?”

[…] “I don’t get it. You said that you’re out for your own selfish interest — […] I thought you were an egoist — and a practical man. I offer you a blank check […] and you tell me that you don’t want it. Why?”

“Because you have no value to offer me.”

[…] “Want a billion dollars […]? straight out of the public treasury, […] or even in gold, if you prefer.”

[…] “What have you got to offer me that I couldn’t get without you?”

[…] “don’t you see?” […] “What I’ve got to offer you is your life.”

“It’s not yours to offer, Mr. Thompson,” said Galt softly. […] “The removal of a threat is not a payment.”

Mr. Thompson looked thoughtful, then shook his head. “I don’t think you’re practical,” he said. “A practical man doesn’t ignore the facts of reality. He doesn’t waste his time wishing things to be different or trying to change them.”

[…] “Well?” said Galt. “What are your orders?”

“I want you to save the economy of the country!” […] “I want you to find a way!” […] “I want you to think!”

“How will your gun make me do that, Mr. Thompson?”

“I don’t get it,” he said in a tone of genuine helplessness. “[…] With a brain like yours — […]Why don’t you pretend to join us, then gain control and outsmart me?”

“For the same reason that makes you offer it: because you’d win.” […] “Which one of us would succeed, if I were to compete with you for control over your musclemen? Sure, I could pretend —[…] but I’d perish and what you’d win would be what you’ve always won in the past: a postponement, one more stay of execution, for another year — or month […]. But you’ve found your last victim […].”

“You say that if we don’t give up the system, we’ll perish?” he asked. “[…] since we’re holding you, you will perish with us?” […] “Don’t you want to live?”

“Passionately.” […] “I want to live much more intensely than you do. I know that that’s what you’re counting on. I know that you, in fact, do not want to live at all. I want it. And because I want it so much, I will accept no substitute.”

[…] “it’s not true! Why do you talk like that? […] I never intended to harm anybody. I want people to like me. I want to be your friend … I want to be your friend!” he cried to the space at large.

In South Dakota, people are burning government buildings and expensive homes. There’s a civil war in California. Armed fighting breaks out between Georgia and Alabama. Mr. Thompson, having sent Dagny a $500,000 check, calls on her again to ask what they should do.

[…] “Can you figure him out?”

[…] “He’s an arrogant egoist,” she said. “He’s an ambitious adventurer. He’s a man of unlimited audacity who’s playing for the biggest stakes in the world.”

[…] What does he want?”

“Reality. This earth.” […] “He’ll give in, if you treat him right. […] Fear won’t work. He’s impervious to fear. […] let him have copies of your confidential reports. He’ll see that it won’t be long now.”

At her apartment that night she gets an unmarked envelope from Francisco with a message:

Dagny: Sit tight. Watch them. When he’ll need our help, call me at OR 6-5693.

Top Washinton men visit Galt as the days pass. Ferris says,

[…] “To fail to save a life is as immoral as to murder […] since we must judge actions by their consequences […]. For instance, in view of the desperate shortage of food, it has been suggested that it might become necessary to issue a directive ordering that every third one of all children under the age of ten and of all adults over the age of sixty be put to death, to secure the survival of the rest. You wouldn’t want this to happen, would you? You can prevent it. […]”

“You’re crazy!” screamed Mr. Thompson […]. “Please, Mr. Galt! […] He doesn’t mean it!”

“Oh yes, he does,” said Galt. “Tell the bastard to look at me, then look in the mirror, then ask himself whether I would ever think that my moral stature is at the mercy of his actions.”

“Get out of here!” cried Mr. Thompson, yanking Ferris to his feet.

Galt asks to see Dr. Stadler. Raiders attack a critical rail link across the Mississippi river and Thompson asks the army to protect it. Armed men have taken a San Francisco station for ransom, and Eddie chooses to go there to “straighten things out”. Dr. Stadler, after screaming that he couldn’t see John Galt, follows the order the next morning. Entering the room with Galt, he says

“I couldn’t help it, John! I couldn’t help it! They own the world! They left me no place in it! … What’s reason to them? What’s science? […] They don’t think! They’re mindless animals moved by irrational feelings — by their greedy, grasping, blind, unaccountable feelings! They seize whatever they want, that’s all they know: that they want it, regardless of cause, effect or logic — they want it, the bloody, grubbing pigs! […] Our weapons are so helplessly, laughably childish: truth, knowledge, reason, values, rights! […] What could I do against their fists? I had to live, didn’t I? It wasn’t for myself — it was for the future of science — there’s no way to live except on their terms […]? What did you want me to do? Spend my life begging for jobs? Begging my inferiors for funds and endowments? Did you want my work to depend on the mercy of the ruffians who have a knack for making money? I had no time to compete with them for money or markets or any of their miserable material pursuit! Was that your idea of justice — that they should spend their money on liquor, yachts and women, while the priceless hours of my life were wasted for lack of scientific equipment? Persuasion? How could I persuade them? What language could I speak to men who don’t think? […] Don’t you know how noble a purpose it was — my vision of the future of science? Human knowledge set free of material bonds! An unlimited end unrestricted by means! I am not a traitor, John! I’m not! I was serving the cause of the mind! […] Men can’t exist your way! […] Who are you to blame me, you miserable failure? […] Here you are, caught, helpless, under guard, to be killed by those brutes at any moment — and you dare to accuse me of being impractical! Oh yes, you’re going to be killed! […] You are the man who has to be destroyed!”

Galt’s voice had the same unbending austerity as his eyes: “You have said everything I wanted to say to you.”

Three days later, Chick Morrison and two others lead Galt at gunpoint to a ballroom in the hotel with 500 people at dinner tables, among whom is Dagny. Galt sits calmly at the head of the head table reserved for him. TV cameras arrive.

“Fellow citizens,” the announcer cried into a microphone, “of this country and of any other that’s able to listen — from the grand ballroom of the Wayne-Falkland Hotel in New York City, we are bringing you the inauguration of […] the John Galt Plan for Peace, Prosperity and Profit! […]”

“This banquet,” said Chick Morrison, who had taken over as master of ceremonies, “is in honor of the […] the new leader of our economy — John Galt! […] If you have been misled by those old-fashioned extremists who claimed that he would never join us, that no merger is possible between his way of life and ours, that it’s either one or the other — tonight’s event will prove to you that anything can be reconciled and united!”

The camera moved to Galt. […] Then, with so swift and expert a movement that his secretary’s hand was unable to match it, he rose to his feet, leaning sidewise, leaving the pointed gun momentarily exposed to the sight of the world — then, standing straight, […] he said: “Get the hell out of my way!”

Part 3, Chapter 9

After hurrying out of Galt’s room four days earlier, Mr. Thompson had threatened him: “If he doesn’t give in to us peaceably, we might have to resort to pressure — such as hostages whom he wouldn’t want to see hurt — and you’re first on the list, Professor.” “But he damns me more than anyone on earth!” “How do I know?” Mr. Thompson had answered. “I hear that you used to be his teacher. Arid, don’t forget, you’re the only one he asked for.”

Now Dr. Stadler is driving through Iowa in terror, intending to seize Project X.

The means? His emotion had answered: Somehow. The motive? His mind had repeated insistently that his motive was terror of Mr. Thompson’s gang, that he was not safe among them any longer, that his plan was a practical necessity. […] I’m Robert Stadler — he had thought, his mind repeating it as a formula of omnipotence. […]

Arriving at the Project X compound that night, the barbed-wire fence is broken and no one is at the front gate. Something is going on with armored trucks and running figures. Stadler approaches an armed man at the Xylophone structure.

“Let me in!” Dr. Stadler ordered contemptuously.

“What’s your business here?”

“I’m Dr. Robert Stadler.”

“I’m Joe Blow. I said, What’s your business? Are you one of the new or one of the old?”

“Let me in, you idiot! I’m Dr. Robert Stadler!”

It was not the name, but the tone of voice and the form of address that seemed to convince the soldier. “One of the new,” he said and, opening the door, shouted to somebody inside, “Hey, Mac, take care of Grandpaw here, see what he wants!”

[…] It took him a long time to grasp — when his mind could not block it any longer — that somebody had beaten him to his plan: somebody had held the same view of existence as his own and had set out to achieve the same future. He grasped that these men, who called themselves the Friends of the People, had seized possession of Project X, tonight, a few hours ago, intending to establish a reign of their own. He laughed in their faces, with bitterly incredulous contempt. “You don’t know what you’re doing, you miserable juvenile delinquents! Do you think that you — you! — can handle a high-precision instrument of science? Who is your leader? I demand to see your leader!”

The group’s leader, Cuffy Meigs, is busy giving orders.

[…] “Send couriers to every county seat within our reach! Tell ‘em that the Friends of the People have won! Tell ‘em they’re not to take orders from Washington any longer! The new capital of the People’s Commonwealth is […] henceforth to be known as Meigsville! Tell ‘em that I’ll expect five hundred thousand dollars per every five thousand heads of population, by tomorrow morning— or else!”

“I am Dr. Robert Stadler.”

“Huh?— Oh, yeah! Yeah! You’re the big guy from outer spaces, aren’t you? You’re the fellow who catches atoms or something. Well, what on earth are you doing here?”

[…] “I have come here to take control.”

“Control? Of what?”

“Of this equipment. Of this place. Of the countryside within its radius of operation.”

[…] “You came here alone, with your name and your car?”

“I did.”

Cuffy Meigs burst out laughing in his face.

[…] “How much do you know about this?” Dr. Stadler pointed at the Xylophone.

“Who cares? Technicians are a dime a dozen these days! Beat it! […]” He was weaving unsteadily back and forth, catching at a lever of the Xylophone once in a while. Dr. Stadler realized that Meigs was drunk.

[…] “Get away from that panel! Get out of here! This is mine! Do you understand? It’s my property! […] I made it possible!”

[…] “Don’t you give me orders! I don’t need you to tell me what to do!”

“Hey, Cuffy, take it easy!” yelled some figure in the back of the room, darting forward.

“Stand back!” roared Cuffy Meigs. “Stand back, all of you! Scared, am I? I’ll show you who’s boss!”

Dr. Stadler leaped to stop him — but Meigs shoved him aside with one arm, gave a gulp of laughter at the sight of Stadler falling to the floor, and, with the other arm, yanked a lever of the Xylophone.

The crash of sound — the screeching crash of ripped metal and of pressures colliding on conflicting circuits, the sound of a monster turning upon itself — was heard only inside the structure. No sound was heard outside. Outside, the structure merely rose into the air, suddenly and silently, cracked open into a few large pieces, shot some hissing streaks of blue light to the sky and came down as a pile of rubble. Within the circle of a radius of a hundred miles, enclosing parts of four states, telegraph poles fell like matchsticks, farmhouses collapsed into chips, city buildings went down as if slashed and minced by a single second’s blow, with no time for a sound to be heard by the twisted bodies of the victims — and, on the circle’s periphery, halfway across the Mississippi, the engine and the first six cars of a passenger train flew as a shower of metal into the water of the river, along with the western spans of the Taggart Bridge, cut in half.

On the site of what had once been Project X, nothing remained alive among the ruins— except, for some endless minutes longer, a huddle of torn flesh and screaming pain that had once been a great mind.

Dagny follows the leadership clique and finds them in a small private study. Chick Morrison resigns in frustration while the others began murmur about their desperate situation. Ferris wants to use the Ferris Persuader device. Mr. Thompson gives up and says “Oh, do anything you want!”

“We must make sure,” Wesley Mouch was whispering, “that nobody ever learns about it …”

She saw Ferris’ eyes move to her, as if he had suddenly remembered her presence. She held his glance, letting him see the untroubled indifference of hers, as if she had neither cared nor understood. Then, as if merely grasping the signal of a private discussion, she turned slowly, with the suggestion of a shrug, and left the room. She knew that they were now past the stage of worrying about her.

Dagny runs to the nearest telephone booth and dials Francisco at OR 6-5693.

“They intend to torture him. They have some machine called the Ferris Persuader, in an isolated unit on the grounds of the State Science Institute. It’s in New Hampshire. They mentioned flying. They mentioned that they would have him on the radio within three hours.”

At home, she packs a suitcase, changes clothes and heads to the Taggart Building. Expecting never to return, she takes documents from the safe, a map of the TT system and a picture of Nat Taggart, when the chief engineer rushes in. He reports that the Taggart Bridge has been blown up and that people think something went wrong at Project X.

“Only one thing is certain: the bridge is gone! Miss Taggart! We don’t know what to do!”

She leaped to her desk and seized the telephone receiver. Her hand stopped in mid-air. Then, slowly, twistedly, with the greatest effort ever demanded of her, she began to move her arm down to place the receiver back.

“Miss Taggart!” cried the chief engineer. “We don’t know what to do!”

The receiver clicked softly back into its cradle. “I don’t, either,” she answered. […] She heard her voice telling the man to check further and report to her later […].

She draws a dollar sign in lipstick at the base of Nat Taggart’s statue and meets Francisco on a corner outside the building. There, she states the oath of Galt’s Gulch.

The two-storey Project F building is adjacent to the State Science Institute. In the cellar, in a room with Dr. Ferris, Wesley Mouch, James Taggart and a machanic, John Galt is strapped to a mattress connected by loose coils of wire to the cabinet-shaped machine on the other side of the room.

He was naked; the small metal disks of electrodes at the ends of the wires were attached to his wrists, his shoulders, his hips and his ankles; a device resembling a stethoscope was attached to his chest and connected to the amplifier .

“Get this straight,” said Dr. Ferris, addressing him for the first time. “We want you to take full power over the economy of the country. We want you to become a dictator. We want you to rule. Understand? […] We want ideas — or else.”

Galt won’t answer, so Ferris orders the machine be activated.

[…] A long shudder ran through Galt’s body; his left arm shook in jerking spasms, convulsed by the electric current that circled between his wrist and shoulder. His head fell back, his eyes closed, his lips drawn tight. He made no sound.

[…] Ferris’ eyes were blank, Mouch’s terrified, Taggart’s disappointed.

Ferris continues the torture, on and off, for several minutes, until the machine breaks down. Ferris and the mechanic look inside but can’t figure out what’s wrong. “It’s the vibrator that’s out of order,” said Galt, who proceeded to explain how to fix the machine.

The mechanic […] made a step back. In the incoherent dimness of his consciousness, in some wordless, shapeless, unintelligible manner, even he suddenly grasped the meaning of what was occurring in that cellar. He looked at Galt— he looked at the three men— he looked at the machine. He shuddered, he dropped his pliers and ran out of the room. Galt burst out laughing.

The three men were backing slowly away from the machine. They were struggling not to allow themselves to understand what the mechanic had understood.

“No!” cried Taggart suddenly […] “He hasn’t had enough! He hasn’t even screamed yet!”

And then it was Taggart who screamed. […] The sight he was confronting was within him. The protective walls of emotion, of evasion, of pretense, of semi-thinking and pseudo-words, built up by him through all of his years, had crashed in the span of one moment— the moment when he knew that he wanted Galt to die, knowing fully that his own death would follow.

He was suddenly seeing the motive that had directed all the actions of his life […]: it was the lust to destroy whatever was living, for the sake of whatever was not. It was the urge to defy reality by the destruction of every living value, for the sake of proving to himself that he could exist in defiance of reality and would never have to be bound by any solid, immutable facts. […] he knew that he had never wanted to survive, he knew that it was Galt’s greatness he had wanted to torture and destroy.

“No …” he moaned, staring at that vision, shaking his head to escape it. […]

“Yes,” said Galt.

[…] He stood for a moment, staring blindly at space, then his legs gave way, folding limply, and he sat on the floor, still staring, unaware of his action or surroundings.

Chapter 10

Dagny approaches the guard at the Project F building and says he should let her in, by order of Mr. Thompson, but the guard can’t decide whether to follow the order of Dr. Ferris of Mr. Thompson. He turns to unlock the door so he can ask a supervisor, when she pulls out a gun with a silencer.

[…] “Either you let me in or I shoot you. […]”

“Oh Christ, ma’am!” he gulped in the whine of a desperate plea. “I can’t shoot at you, seeing as you come from Mr. Thompson! And I can’t let you in against the word of Dr. Ferris! What am I to do? I’m only a little fellow! I’m only obeying orders! It’s not up to me!”

“I’ll count to three,” she said. “Then I’ll shoot.”

“Wait! Wait! I haven’t said yes or no!” he cried, cringing tighter against the door, as if immobility of mind and body were his best protection, “One—” she counted; she could see his eyes staring at her in terror —”Two—” she could see that the gun held less terror for him than the alternative she offered — “Three.”

Calmly and impersonally, she, who would have hesitated to fire at an animal, pulled the trigger and fired straight at the heart of a man who had wanted to exist without the responsibility of consciousness.

Francisco, Hank and Ragnar approach, having dealt with four other guards around the building. Inside, Francisco shoots a guard’s hand as he reaches for his gun, then points it at another guard while Hank and Ragnar tie them up.

Hank goes upstairs, acting like he was meant to be there, and finds six guards playing poker and two on duty. He says he’s here to take charge of the prisoner. The chief guard goes to a telephone and discovers that the line is dead. Rearden says,

“That’s no way to guard a building — if this is what you allowed to happen. Better let me have the prisoner, before anything happens to him — if you don’t want me to report you for negligence, as well as insubordination.”

“Who is the prisoner?” he asked.

“My good man,” said Rearden, “if your immediate superiors did not see fit to tell you, I certainly will not.”

[…] “I don’t believe that the government would send you on a mission, when you’re one of those vanishing traitors and friends of John Galt who—”

“But haven’t you heard?”


“John Galt has made a deal with the government and has brought us all back.”

[…] “Why hasn’t it been announced on the radio?”

“Do you presume to hold opinions on when and how the government should choose to announce its policies?”

“But I don’t know whether I’m supposed to obey you!”

“If you refuse, you’ll take the consequences.”

The chief gets becomes suspicious and shoots Rearden in the shoulder. The other guards draw their guns. Francisco appears at another door with a gun.

“I wouldn’t, if I were you,” said Francisco.

“Jesus!” gasped one of the guards, struggling for the memory of a name he could not recapture. “That’s … that’s the guy who blew up all the copper mines in the world!”

[…] “Shoot, you bastards!” screamed the chief to the wavering men. […]

[…] “Drop your guns,” said Rearden.

“Let me out of here!” screamed the youngest, dashing for the door on the right. He threw the door open and sprang back: Dagny Taggart stood on the threshold, gun in hand.

“Drop your guns,” said Rearden. “[…] If you die, you won’t know what you’re dying for. If we do, we will.”

“Don’t … don’t listen to him!” snarled the chief. “Shoot! I order you to shoot ! “

One of the guards looked at the chief, dropped his gun and, raising his arms, backed away from the group toward Rearden.

“God damn you!” yelled the chief, seized a gun with his left hand and fired at the deserter.

At that moment Ragnar crashes through a window and identifies himself. All the guards drop their guns, except one who shoots the chief. After they tie up the guards, one leads them to the cellar. At he cellar door there is another guard who drops his weapon and is tied up. Galt is happy to see Dagny in the torture room. “Give me a cigarette,” he said. Dagny struggles not to cry. Danneskjöld finds Galt’s clothing. They walk to Francisco’s hidden airplane some distance away. Francisco dresses Hank’s wounds after takeoff.

Rearden smiled. “I will repeat what you said when I thanked you, on our first meeting: ‘If you understand that I acted for my own sake, you know that no gratitude is required.’”

“I will repeat,” said Galt, “the answer you gave me: ‘That is why I thank you.’”

About half of the males from Galt’s Gulch are flying in their own planes behind them.

Did you think any of them would stay home and leave you in the hands of the looters? We were prepared to get you by open, armed assault on that Institute or on the Wayne-Falkland, if necessary. But we knew that in such case we would run the risk of their killing you when they saw that they were beaten. That’s why we decided that the four of us would first try it alone. Had we failed, the others would have proceeded with an open attack.

Soon they fly beside New York, which is on its death bed, a key rail link having been severed by the Xylophone. As they pass, the power goes out citywide, which the men above see as a sign that their job is done. Dagny knows “that now, at this hour, their plane was carrying all that was left of New York City.” “It’s the end,” she says. “It’s the beginning,” Galt answered.

Eddie Willers, having saved San Francisco station, is on an eastbound train in Arizona.

there was no way to remember the deals he had made on the basis of the range of every shifting moment. He knew only that he had obtained immunity for the terminal from the leaders of three different warring factions; […] that he had started one more Taggart Comet on her eastward run, with the best Diesel engine and the best crew available […] with no knowledge of how long his achievement would last.

But the Comet’s engine is in terrible disrepair, and it fails in the desert. The fireman departs to reach a “track phone” and returns an hour later. He reports that Division Headquarters did not answer the phone. Under Eddie’s orders, the engineer tried to fix it, but his knowledge was meager. Eddie tried, but knew even less. Hours pass.

A train of covered wagons, pulled by horses, arrives at the train. The leader offers to give them a lift

“No, I mean it, brother. We got plenty of room. We’ll give you folks a lift — for a price — if you want to get out of here.”

“This is the Taggart Comet,” said Eddie Willers, choking.

“[…] Looks more like a dead caterpillar to me. What’s the matter, brother? You’re not going anywhere — and you can’t get there any more, even if you tried.”

When the man explains what happened to New York and the Taggart Bridge, Eddie faints. When he regains his senses, the cab is empty. Outside, he sees people buying spots on the wagons.

“Mr. Willers,” said the conductor softly, “it’s no use …”

“Don’t abandon the Comet!” cried Eddie Willers. “Don’t let it go! Oh God, don’t let it go!”

[…] The barker shrugged. “Well, it’s your funeral!”

“Which way are you going?” asked the engineer, not looking at Eddie.

“Just going, brother! Just looking for some place to stop … somewhere. We’re from Imperial Valley, California. The ‘People’s Party’ crowd grabbed the crops and any food we had in the cellars. Hoarding, they called it. So we just picked up and went. Got to travel by night, on account of the Washington crowd….We’re just looking for some place to live…. […]”

Everyone but Eddie leaves the comet behind.

He felt like the captain of an ocean liner in distress, who preferred to go down with his ship rather than be saved by the canoe of savages taunting him with the superiority of their craft. Then, suddenly, he felt the blinding surge of a desperate, righteous anger. He leaped to his feet, seizing the throttle […], pulling levers at random […].

[…] He stepped to the front of the engine and looked up at the letters TT. Then he collapsed across the rail and lay sobbing at the foot of the engine, with the beam of a motionless headlight above him going off into a limitless night.

On a spring night, the residents of Galt’s Gulch sit in their homes, Judge Narragansett is alone, editing the constitution:

He had marked and crossed out the contradictions in its statements that had once been the cause of its destruction. He was now adding a new clause to its pages: “Congress shall make no law abridging the freedom of production and trade …”

Midas Mulligan is planning future investments. Ragnar Danneskjöld reads Aristotle while Kay Ludlow puts on makeup. Francisco is designing a smelter as Rearden and Wyatt sit by his fireplace.

“John will design the new locomotives,” Rearden was saying, “and Dagny will run the first railroad between New York and Philadelphia. […] She will probably try to take the shirt off my back with the freight rates she’s going to charge, but— I’ll be able to meet them.”

On the highest ledge of a nearby mountain, Dagny’s hand rests on Galt’s shoulder, their hair blowing in the wind.

“The road is cleared,” said Galt. “We are going back to the world.” He raised his hand and over the desolate earth he traced in space the sign of the dollar.