novel’s protagonist and vice president in charge of operations of
Taggart Transcontinental. Dagny is Galt’s greatest love and worst
enemy. Her brilliant management style and unwavering commitment
to the railroad enable her to remain in the world of the “looters”—Rand’s
word for the people and government agencies that seize property
from capitalists—and to keep her railroad running despite the growing
chaos. 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.
in-depth analysis of Dagny Taggart.
greatest of the nation’s industrialists, Rearden is a steel baron
with an astonishing capacity to produce. He is also Dagny’s lover
for most of the novel. Rearden represents a threat to the strikers
because he continues to fight for his mills and inadvertently props up
the looters’ regime. His main flaw is his willingness to accept
the looters’ idea that he is obligated to serve others. When he
finally gives up this premise, he sees the looters’ system for what
it is and joins the strike.
in-depth analysis of Hank Rearden.
man around whom the action of the novel revolves, Galt organizes
and leads the strike of the mind. He is simultaneously the destroyer,
the inventor of the revolutionary motor, Eddie’s mysterious friend, and
Dagny’s greatest love. Brilliant and perceptive, he is the physical
and intellectual representation of man’s ideal.
in-depth analysis of John Galt.
- An enormously wealthy and brilliant industrialist,
Francisco is the first to join Galt’s strike and the man who pays
the highest price for it, losing his first and only love, Dagny.
Francisco works as the strike’s most active recruiter, focusing
much of his attention on Rearden. By pretending to be a worthless playboy,
Francisco is able to hide his efforts to destroy d’Anconia copper
and thereby keep it out of the hands of the looters.
in-depth analysis of Francisco d’Anconia.
James Taggart (Jim)
- Dagny’s brother and president of Taggart Transcontinental.
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.
assistant at Taggart and a hard worker dedicated to the preservation
of the railroad. Through his friendship with the mysterious track
worker in the cafeteria, Eddie unwittingly provides the destroyer with
valuable information about Dagny and the railroad.
- Hank Rearden’s lifeless, beautiful wife. 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.
oil tycoon who sparks the growth of Colorado’s industry through
his innovations. When the government burdens Colorado with impossible regulations
and demands, Wyatt refuses to cooperate and withdraws. Leaving nothing
behind for the looters, he sets fire to his wells, creating the
spectacular and symbolic Wyatt’s Torch.
- 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
Dr. Robert Stadler
- Once a brilliant professor and scientist who taught
physics to Galt, Danneskjold, and Francisco at Patrick Henry University,
Stadler is the disillusioned head scientist at the State Science
Institute. He allows the looters to appropriate his mind.
philosopher who champions reason, Akston taught Galt, Danneskjold,
and Francisco at Patrick Henry University. He joins the strike early
on, after society proclaims the death of reason. He works as a short-order
cook in a diner.
Rearden’s “Washington Man,” Mouch is a mediocre bureaucrat who rises
to the role of economic dictator through his betrayal of Rearden
and his well-placed connections.
corrupt owner of Associated Steel. Although his product is inferior
to Rearden’s, he uses his government connections to protect his
business and obtain the rights to make Rearden Metal.
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.
The Wet Nurse (Tony)
- A young bureaucrat sent by the government to watch
over Rearden’s mills. Though he starts out as a cynical follower
of the looters’ code, his experience at the mills transforms him,
and he comes to respect and admire the producers.
talented employee of Taggart and one of the first men in the novel
to retire mysteriously.
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.
- 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.
Dr. Floyd Ferris
- The head of the State Science Institute and author
of Why Do You Think You Think? 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.
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.
brilliant composer who joins the strike after his work is praised
only for having been borne of suffering. His fifth concerto is played
throughout the strikers’ valley.
owner of the Phoenix-Durango Line in Colorado, who disappears after
Taggart uses his influence to destroy his railroad with the Anti-dog-eat-dog
self-made Pennsylvania coal producer and friend of Rearden’s. He
recognizes the irrationality of the looters’ laws and breaks them.
He joins the strike after he is arrested for making illegal deals
Rearden’s parasitic brother. He lives off of Rearden’s accomplishments
while simultaneously criticizing him for pursuing them.