Free Atlas Shrugged book by Ayn Rand. Who is John Galt? When he says that he will stop the motor of the world, is he a destroyer or a liberator? Why does he have to fight his battles not against his enemies but against those who need him most?
Why does he fight his hardest battle against the woman he loves? Juany Hullery. This novel presents a panorama of human life - from the productive genius who becomes a worthless playboy to the great steel industrialist who does not know that he is working for his own destruction to the philosopher who becomes a pirate.
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Instantly, Ayn Rand became the champion of individualism. Rand began writing Atlas Shrugged in The novel was published by Random House in and became a bestseller despite very negative reviews. Atlas Shrugged was her last work of fiction. Rand realized that in order to communicate the full meaning of her philosophy, she would have to identify its principles in nonfiction form, and so for the next twenty-five years she devoted her life to the development and promotion of Objectivism, her philosophy of the ego.
In she founded an institute devoted to teaching her philosophy, which is still active today. She died on March 6, , in her New York City apartment. More than twenty million copies of her books have been sold. Her distaste for Communism and collectivism in all forms is apparent throughout Atlas Shrugged.
Although her earlier novels were criticized for their deeply anti- Communist stance, Atlas Shrugged was published at the height of the Cold War, and its message was welcomed by an America that feared and despised Communism. Communism, a collectivist system that forces individuals to sacrifice their own interests for the good of the state, threatened the personal and intellectual freedoms Rand considered essential.
Although the United States opposed Communism in the Cold War era, many of the collectivist beliefs of Marxism had support among American academics and those who favored an expanded welfare state and greater regulation of private industry. Rand wrote Atlas Shrugged in opposition to these views. As a student of American capitalism, Rand believed that unfettered economic freedom was the factor most responsible for the major achievements of American inventors and businessmen during the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.
Atlas Shrugged attempts to demonstrate what might happen to the world if such economic freedom were lost, if emerging collectivist trends were to continue to their logical conclusions. The novel shows in detail the resulting collapse of efficient production and the rise of corruption among businessmen and politicians who look to live off the production of others without producing anything themselves.
In Atlas Shrugged, the system falls apart to the point that the remaining producers choose to simply withdraw rather than perpetuate the corruption. In this strike, the thinkers withdraw their minds to protest the oppression of thought and the forced moral code of self-sacrifice that obligates them to work only to serve the needs of others. Without the minds of these thinkers, society is doomed to utter collapse. For Ayn Rand, the mind is the most important tool for humanity, and reason is its greatest virtue.
Dagny decides to start her own company to rebuild the line, and it is a huge success. Dagny and Rearden become lovers. Together they discover a motor in an abandoned factory that runs on static electricity, and they seek the inventor. The government passes new legislation that cripples industry in Colorado.
Ellis Wyatt, an oil industrialist, suddenly disappears after setting fire to his wells. Dagny is forced to cut trains, and the situation worsens. Soon, more industrialists disappear. Dagny believes there is a destroyer at work, taking men away when they are most needed. Francisco visits Rearden and asks him why he remains in business under such repressive conditions. Unwilling to be seen as thugs, they let him go.
She tells him Rearden and Dagny are having an affair, and he uses this information in a trade. The new set of laws, Directive , is irrational and repressive. It includes a ruling that requires all patents to be signed over to the government.
Dagny quits over the new directive and retreats to a mountain lodge. When she learns of a massive accident at the Taggart Tunnel, she returns to her job. She receives a letter from the scientist she had hired to help rebuild the motor, and fears he will be the next target of the destroyer.
In an attempt to stop him from disappearing, she follows him in an airplane and crashes in the mountains. When she wakes up, she finds herself in a remote valley where all the retired industrialists are living. They are on strike, calling it a strike of the mind. There, she meets John Galt, who turns out to be both the destroyer and the man who built the motor. She falls in love with him, but she cannot give up her railroad, and she leaves the valley.
When she returns to work, she finds that the government has nationalized the railroad industry. Government leaders want her to make a speech reassuring the public about the new laws. She refuses until Lillian comes to blackmail her. On the air, she proudly announces her affair with Rearden and reveals that he has been blackmailed.
She warns the country about its repressive government. With the economy on the verge of collapse, Francisco destroys the rest of his holdings and disappears. The politicians no longer even pretend to work for the public good.
Their vast network of influence peddling creates worse chaos, as crops rot waiting for freight trains that are diverted for personal favors. But the steelworkers organize and fight back, led by Francisco, who has been working undercover at the mills. Just as the head of state prepares to give a speech on the economic situation, John Galt takes over the airwaves and delivers a lengthy address to the country, laying out the terms of the strike he has organized.
In desperation, the government seeks Galt to make him their economic dictator. Dagny inadvertently leads them to him, and they take him prisoner. But Galt refuses to help them, even after he is tortured. Finally, Dagny and the strikers rescue him in an armed confrontation with guards. They return to the valley, where Dagny finally joins the strike. In so doing, she continues to provide the looters with transportation that sustains their system. She mistakenly believes the looters are capable of reason and will understand their mistakes before it is too late.
When she realizes the looters are in fact agents of death, she withdraws and is the last to join the strike. Read an in-depth analysis of Dagny Taggart.
Read an in-depth analysis of Hank Rearden. John Galt - The man around whom the action of the novel revolves, Galt organizes and leads the strike of the mind. Read an in-depth analysis of John Galt. An inferior businessman, Jim excels at influence peddling and becomes highly skilled at manipulating the system.
Though he claims to be motivated by both personal wealth and public service, his true motive is destruction of the productive. Jim carefully represses the nature of his depravity, but his final encounter with John Galt completely shatters his illusions. Through his friendship with the mysterious track worker in the cafeteria, Eddie unwittingly provides the destroyer with valuable information about Dagny and the railroad.
Lillian is dominated by a hatred of the good, and her purpose in life is to destroy her husband. Unlike Jim, who shares her need for destruction but deludes himself that he has other motivations, Lillian is honest with herself about her goals. When the government burdens Colorado with impossible regulations and demands, Wyatt refuses to cooperate and withdraws.
Ragnar Danneskjold - A notorious pirate and one of the first strikers. Danneskjold fights the looters on their own violent terms. A reverse Robin Hood, he steals from the parasites and returns wealth to the productive. He allows the looters to appropriate his mind. He joins the strike early on, after society proclaims the death of reason. He works as a short-order cook in a diner. Orren Boyle - The corrupt owner of Associated Steel.
Cherryl Brooks - A young, idealistic hero worshipper who marries Jim, mistakenly believing he is a good man. Jim seeks to destroy her and the good she represents, and is ultimately successful. Owen Kellogg - A talented employee of Taggart and one of the first men in the novel to retire mysteriously.
Midas Mulligan - The most successful banker of all time and the owner of the valley where the strikers live. Mulligan withdrew from society after realizing that he cannot thrive in a system that rewards need over ability.
Judge Narrangansett - The legal mind that champions the freedom of individuals to produce and trade free of government intervention. He is one of the strikers who live in the valley. Ferris rejects the mind and recognizes only bald power. He leads the faction that seeks to kill John Galt instead of working with him and jeopardizing its own power. Thompson - The Head of State, Thompson is pragmatic and driven only by the immediacy of the moment.
He cynically believes that everyone, including Galt, is willing to cut a deal in exchange for power. He is genuinely stunned when Galt rejects his offer. Richard Halley - A brilliant composer who joins the strike after his work is praised only for having been borne of suffering. He joins the strike after he is arrested for making illegal deals with Rearden. Analysis of Major Characters John Galt Galt is the most important character in the novel and the driving force behind its action.
But his identity remains a mystery until two-thirds of the way through the novel, lending him a mythical stature. In Galt, Rand has set out to present man in his most ideal form. She describes him as physically beautiful, profoundly brilliant, and enormously accomplished. Most importantly, Galt is unwaveringly rational and deals directly with the objective facts he encounters.
In him, rationality and emotion are fully integrated. Though ruled by reason, he is able to express and experience his emotions as well.
Just as Rand uses Dagny to shatter the mind-body dichotomy that separates physical pleasure from higher thought, she employs Galt to reject the split between reason and emotion. The mind is the motive power that drives civilization, just as the motor Galt develops can drive industry. The question asks what is the mind? Dagny Taggart Dagny is remarkable in every way: beautiful, talented, determined, and highly intelligent.
Her independent spirit leads her to trust her own judgment over public opinion. Though calmly rational, she is also tremendously passionate about her work and love. Rand presents her this way to demonstrate that rationality and great accomplishments are not gender-specific. She is keenly aware of her own abilities and always knows the right thing to do.
But her confidence is also her flaw. She leaves the strikers and rejoins the real world because she feels she can single-handedly save her railroad and by extension her world. No one person can do this, and her realization comes nearly too late, as she is the last to join the strike. She is also flawed in her optimism about people.
Until the end, when she learns the looters will torture Galt to make him help them, she continues to believe they can be made to understand their errors. James Jim Taggart Jim is the antithesis of the striking heroes in every aspect. Where they are brilliant, strong, and independent, he is weak and dependent on public opinion for every decision he makes. His ambition in life is simply to destroy the good, making him a classic example of a nihilist.
He marries Cherryl Brooks in order to destroy her goodness but convinces himself he has done it for love. She is an easy target for him and a substitute for the great men like Rearden, whom he cannot manage to ruin.
Eventually, Jim can no longer hide his nature from himself. The realization causes him to go mad. Hank Rearden Rearden is the embodiment of productivity, just as Galt represents the mind. His legendary capacity for hard work and his integrity and skill have made him the most successful industrialist in the country.
At first, Rearden struggles with important misconceptions about himself that undermine his ability to see his own greatness. He undergoes a profound transformation in the course of the novel. Despite operating his business based on a rational moral code that demands value for value, he allows his family to sponge off of him and make him feel guilty for his success. This makes him willing to sacrifice himself for their flawed morality and saps his vitality.
He also mistakenly believes in a separation of the mind and body, which makes him see physical desire as base and low, and the things of the mind as unrelated to the physical world. Dagny and Francisco help him to reject this idea, which enables him to embrace his own value. And although he has only ever loved Dagny, he plays the part of a promiscuous playboy as a cover for his real activities. He is enthusiastic and benevolent, although much of his strike-related activities cause others, especially Dagny and Rearden, to feel he is mocking and untrustworthy.
First, he must give up Dagny and allow her to view him as depraved and worthless. And he must continually work to destroy the company his family built for generations. But the suffering is worth the price for him, because he is sure that he is right. Eventually, Dagny and Rearden come to understand and admire him, and the strike he devotes his life to works as planned. When the best creative minds are systematically removed from the world, their importance is laid bare.
Without the great thinkers, society spirals quickly downward. The economy collapses, and irrational looters seize power. As the events of the novel show, the mind enables creation and innovation and powers the engine of the world. Labor alone cannot achieve productivity and prosperity without the guidance of the mind.
Incentive is destroyed, and corruption becomes inevitable. The story of the Twentieth Century Motor Company illustrates this brilliantly. After the plant adopted a method in which workers were paid according to perceived needs and ordered to work based on perceived ability, the workers became depraved and immoral, each seeking to show himself or herself as most needy and least skilled. The plant failed, and the community was destroyed by mistrust and greed.
For Rand, any economic or political plan based on sacrifice of the individual for the group leads to chaos and destruction. The Need to Integrate Mind and Body Rand rejects the mind-body dichotomy that is central to many philosophies and religions. She opposes the idea that the thoughts and achievements of the mind are pure and noble, but the desires of the body are base and immoral, and she presents Dagny as a character who also rejects the idea.
Dagny is proud of her sexuality and sees her physical desires flowing logically from the evaluations and rationality of her mind. At first, Rearden accepts the mind-body split. His transformation occurs when he comes to integrate the two facets of himself into a rational whole. Stadler represents another aspect of this mind-body dichotomy. He sees the pure science of the mind as removed from practical affairs and wonders why the mind that made the motor would bother with practical applications.
For him, the mind is cut off not just from the body but from practical life. Rhetorical Questions The literary device of rhetorical questioning frequently draws attention to key thematic elements. Motive Power Motors are everywhere in the novel. The revolutionary motor built by John Galt embodies the power to harness energy and move things with it.
In a real sense, motive power is essential to Dagny, who continually searches for decent locomotives to pull her trains. Bridges Bridges serve to represent the great things that can be accomplished by the application of the mind. The destruction of the bridge in the Project X disaster demonstrates that the products of the creative mind are no longer appreciated or understood, and the end is near.
Symbols Symbols are objects, characters, figures, or colors used to represent abstract ideas or concepts. The Sign of the Dollar The dollar sign is the symbol of the strikers.
Their cigarettes are stamped with it, and their town square displays a giant dollar sign. For them, the symbol is not merely shorthand for money, but a symbol of a way of life. The dollar sign represents the things it is exchanged for, namely, the productive abilities of man and the goods and services created by the mind at work.
The very existence of money suggests that there are goods produced and people able to produce them, which is what makes money meaningful and valued. The Bracelet The bracelet Rearden creates from the first batch of Rearden Metal symbolizes everything he has worked toward for ten years, and in a larger sense, the purest product of the unfettered, creative mind. It represents his pride in and love for his work, and he wants desperately to share these values with someone.
Lillian, who hates and wants to destroy Rearden, misses the point entirely and wears the bracelet only to mock him. She wrongly interprets its meaning as a reference to her bondage, though it is clearly Rearden who is chained to her.
Dagny, on the other hand, understands all that the bracelet stands for and shares the values it represents, as demonstrated by her insistence on trading her diamonds for it. In their reactions to the bracelet, we see a sharp contrast between the two women, and it becomes clear that Dagny is the one for Rearden.
The flame is a powerful symbol of individualism and the refusal to surrender the mind. Atlas Atlas, the hero of Greek mythology who carried the weight of the heavens on his shoulders, symbolizes the exploited industrialists, particularly Rearden, whose hard work and great strength support the parasites who live off their productive capabilities.
When Francisco tells Rearden that he would advise Atlas to shrug and let go of his burden, he is referring to the strike and calling upon Rearden to lay down his burden and stop believing it is his duty to bear so much weight for the undeserving. Francisco knows it is unjust for Rearden, or anyone, to be cast in this role.
By recruiting him for the strike, he tries to show Rearden a way out. Eddie is disturbed by the phrase, a slang reference to all that is hopeless and unknowable.
As he looks around, he sees businesses failing everywhere. He remembers an oak tree he saw destroyed by lightning as a child. Eddie wants to use Rearden Steel, but Jim reminds him that Boyle is a good friend and deserves a break. Eddie counters that they risk losing every major shipper in Colorado to the Phoenix-Durango, a rapidly growing young railroad run by Dan Conway.
They have already lost the support of Ellis Wyatt, an entrepreneur who has found a way to revive exhausted oil wells. Wyatt Oil switched to the Phoenix-Durango when Taggart could not keep up with its shipments. Jim tells Eddie that nothing can be done. It turns out to be just a brakeman whistling. When she tells him that is impossible, since Halley only wrote four concertos, he becomes evasive.
Later, Dagny awakes to find the train has stopped. When she investigates, she finds the engineer refuses to take responsibility for moving the train ahead. She identifies herself and orders him to move the train. Seeing how hard it is to find good men, she makes a note to herself to promote a talented employee named Owen Kellogg.
At a meeting with her brother Jim, Dagny tells him that the problems with the Rio Norte are worse than they thought, so she has canceled the order with Orren Boyle and placed an order with Rearden Steel for a new alloy called Rearden Metal. He denounces her choice of Rearden Metal, an unproven new material that no one has been willing to try.
Dagny does not care what the others are doing. She knows that Rearden Metal is the best substance on the market. Jim evades the issue, but finally agrees to put the order through. Owen Kellogg comes to see Dagny. Before she can offer him a promotion, he informs her that he is quitting.
She tries to discover his reason, but he seems to have none. She offers him anything he wants to stay, but he refuses.
If he loves his job, she asks, why leave? As he walks home, he thinks of the ten years of trial and effort that yielded the new alloy and of his early years of hard work in the mines and his steady rise to ownership of mines and mills. Arriving home he finds his wife talking to his mother, his brother Philip, and Paul Larkin, an unsuccessful businessman and old friend.