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Atlas Shrugged

Ayn Rand

Part Two, Chapters IX–X

Part Two, Chapters VII–VIII

Part Three, Chapters I–II

Summary—Chapter IX: The Face Without Pain or Fear or Guilt

Francisco comes to Dagny’s apartment to try again to convince her to quit, but she cannot give up the railroad. Suddenly, Rearden enters the apartment. He sees Francisco and is furious. Francisco is stunned to see that Dagny is sleeping with Rearden. Rearden remembers Francisco’s oath of love to one woman and asks if Dagny is the one. When Francisco says yes, Rearden slaps him. It takes all the self-restraint Francisco can manage not to retaliate, and Rearden realizes how much this man loves him. Francisco concedes that based on what he knows, Rearden is still correct in denouncing him. He leaves the apartment.

Dagny receives a letter from Quentin Daniels, who is resigning. Although he will still work on the motor, he will not accept her money, since he does not want the motor to be used by the looters. Dagny calls him and makes him promise to wait for her to come and see him. She calls Eddie and tells him to hold the Comet for her. She will go west to look into the tunnel accident and to find Daniels.

Eddie comes to Dagny’s apartment to get instructions while she packs. When he sees Rearden’s dressing gown in her closet, he is stunned to realize they are lovers and that he has also been in love with Dagny for years. Later, he goes to eat dinner at the Taggart Cafeteria with the worker. He tells him that he has always liked his face because it looks like the face of a man who has never known pain or fear or guilt. He tells him Dagny is going to find Quentin Daniels and also tells him about the motor. When he mentions his love for Dagny and his shock at learning about her and Rearden, the worker hurries away.

Summary: Chapter X: The Sign of the Dollar

Dagny is shaken by the desolation she passes as she rides west on the Comet. As she steps out of her private car, she sees a conductor removing a hobo from the vestibule. Something in his dignity strikes her, and she invites him in. His name is Jeff Allen, and he used to work for the Twentieth Century Motor Company. He tells her the story of what happened at the plant when Starnes’s heirs began their disastrous policies. Every six months, the workers would come together to vote on each person’s needs. If it was decided that anyone was not producing enough, that man was made to work extra unpaid hours. Eventually, all the workers lost their dignity. The honest men were punished, and the rest learned to manipulate the system and hide their abilities. The first man to quit was named John Galt. He swore he would end the absurdity and stop the motor of the world. After the factory closings and failures that followed, Allen and his coworkers began to think he had succeeded, and they coined the phrase Who is John Galt?

The train stops suddenly. Like many trains lately, it has been deserted by its crew, who simply disappear. Dagny is relieved to find Owen Kellogg on the train, but he is on his way to a month’s vacation and will not help, though he does accompany her to a track phone to call for help. On the way, he asks her why she continues to work for the looters even now. He also smokes the mysterious cigarettes stamped with the dollar sign. Dagny continues on to a nearby airstrip, where she rents a plane. When she lands, she learns that Quentin Daniels has just taken off in another plane. Fearing the destroyer has taken him, she takes off and follows them. She crashes in the remote Colorado mountains.

Analysis: Part Two, Chapters IX–X

The scene in Dagny’s apartment illustrates how much Francisco has had to give up to follow his mission and how important it is to him. Not only has he given up on d’Anconia Copper and allowed his personal reputation to be destroyed, he has given up the only woman he ever loved and betrayed Rearden, a man he loves and respects. The strength required to stay on his course in the face of all he has lost is illustrated in the moment after Rearden slaps him and he does not retaliate, instead acknowledging that Rearden is right to denounce him. Whatever he is accomplishing by withdrawing from the looters’ world must be very important indeed.

We can now be certain that the track worker with whom Eddie dines must be connected to the destroyer in some way. It is no coincidence that Daniels (and earlier, Dannager) disappeared immediately after Eddie happened to mention to the track worker Dagny’s plans to try to stop them. Furthermore, the worker’s interest in Dagny seems personal, given his abrupt reaction to learning she and Rearden are lovers.

Rand uses Jeff Allen’s detailed account of the chaos at the Twentieth Century Motor Company to illustrate the devastating effects of collectivism. For Rand, the ideas behind the plant’s radical management are not just bad ideas, they are pure evil. She intends the plant’s story to be an object lesson in the perils of Communism. Under the system at the plant, income was based on need, not performance. Using need as a basis for policy is the system’s fundamental flaw, for a number of reasons. First, need has no absolute definitions; what is a need to one person may be a luxury to another. Second, rewarding income based on need removes incentive. If production is separated from income, there is no reason to produce, since a worker will receive income anyway. Finally, ability becomes a liability when those determined to be ablest are given more work but not more income. The biggest winner under such a system is the person with the most need and the least ability. This fact makes it inevitable that a community should dissolve into chaos and mistrust, and that production should cease. From Jeff Allen, Dagny also learns the true story of John Galt. She now knows that he is a real person and that he was the first to resign from the plant. His vow to “stop the motor of the world” indicates that he may be the destroyer she seeks. He may also be the inventor of the motor. She is more determined than ever to find him.

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