Copper shortages make repairs impossible for Taggart. Under the Unification Plan, crucial materials are diverted to businessmen with Washington influence. The problem worsens when, at the precise moment that they were to be nationalized, the mines and properties of d’Anconia copper are blown up, and Francisco and his best employees disappear.
Rearden’s brother Philip asks him for a job, but Rearden refuses, since Philip has no useful skills. He is surprised at Philip’s sudden interest. Later, the Wet Nurse also asks for a job, wanting to finally do something productive. Though Rearden would like to hire him, the laws will not allow it. The Wet Nurse warns Rearden that the Washington men are working on new restrictions and secretly bringing their own men into the mills.
Despite terrible conditions, the farmers of Minnesota have generated a huge wheat crop and need trains to carry it off. Dagny learns that Taggart’s cars have been diverted by the corrupt Cuffy Meigs to Louisiana, where they are used to carry soybeans for an experimental project run by the mother of a politician. The cars cannot be rerouted in time, and the wheat crop rots, guaranteeing starvation for many. The farming businesses in Minnesota are all destroyed.
The traffic system in the Taggart terminal has short-circuited. While dealing with the emergency, Dagny sees John Galt among the workers. Later, she walks off into the tunnels. He follows, and they make passionate love. Afterwards, he tells her he has been watching her for ten years from these very tunnels. He warns her not to look for him. If she were to lead the looters to him, he might be killed.
Rearden’s union steelworkers ask for a raise, but Rearden is never told. The Unification Board rejects their request. Later, the Board-controlled newspapers publish stories of the hardship of the steelworkers and the unfair denial of their raise, without mentioning who denied it. Later, Rearden receives notice that his accounts will be attached to pay for phony back taxes. He does nothing, waiting to see what the looters are up to. He receives a phone call from a bureaucrat named Tinky Holloway, who asks him to attend a meeting to straighten everything out. Rearden agrees to attend. Holloway believes Rearden is intractable, based on Philip Rearden’s report on his recent visit to his brother.
Rearden’s family summons him to the house and pleads with him not to disappear. He rejects their apologies and their cries for pity. By asking him to remain, they are asking him to sacrifice himself for them, and this is unforgivable to him. In a pathetic attempt to destroy him, Lillian confesses her infidelity with Jim, but Rearden is beyond caring. When his family points out that he cannot disappear without money, he realizes why the attachment orders were placed.