Atlas Shrugged

by: Ayn Rand

Important Quotations Explained

4
I swear by my life and my love of it that I will never live for the sake of another man, nor ask another man to live for mine.

This is the oath the thinkers recite when they join the strike and come to live in the valley; we first encounter this oath in Part Three, Chapter I. No one may stay until he or she is willing to take the oath freely. Dagny first encounters it as an inscription on the building where Galt’s motor is kept. The words are so powerful that the sound of Galt reciting them opens the locks of the building’s door. When Dagny sees the inscription, she tells Galt this is already the code she lives by, but she does not think his way is the right way to practice the code. He tells her they will have to see which one of them is right. Later, when it is clear that Galt’s way was right, Dagny solemnly recites the oath to Francisco in the Taggart Terminal just before they rescue Galt from the looters, in Part Three, Chapter IX. The striker’s code presents Rand’s belief in egoism, or the doctrine of rational self-interest. Rand believes that individuals have an inalienable right to pursue their own happiness based on their own values and that they must be free to pursue their own self-interest as they choose. Under this code, people have no obligations to each other beyond the obligation to respect the freedom and rights of other self-interested people.