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Galt is the most important character in the novel and
the driving force behind its action. The strike that he conceives,
organizes, and carries out is the book’s central, defining event.
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.
Not only has he been able to develop a revolutionary motor, he has
also created a philosophy of reason and become a statesman capable
of leading the world’s most talented men. 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.
Galt represents the main theme of the novel and of Rand’s
philosophy: the idea that the mind is the only means by which man
can achieve prosperity. The mind is the motive power that drives
civilization, just as the motor Galt develops can drive industry.
Galt embodies the mind, and the question “Who is John Galt?” is
not only a literal question about the mysterious man who has disappeared,
but a figurative question as well. The question asks what
is the mind? and what happens when the mind disappears? Galt knows
that without his mind and the minds of the world’s great thinkers,
the motive power of the world will be lost and the motor of the
world will stop.
Ace your assignments with our guide to Atlas Shrugged!