Summary—Chapter I: Atlantis
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.See Important Quotations Explained
Dagny opens her eyes and looks into the face of a man—a face that bears no mark of pain or fear or guilt. His name is John Galt, and he had been the pilot of the plane she followed. He is the man Jeff Allen described. He is also the inventor of the motor and the destroyer Dagny has feared. She has injured her ankle. He carries her away from the wreckage. On the way to his house, Dagny discovers that this remote mountain valley is the home of all the vanished industrialists. The banker Midas Mulligan owns the valley. Hugh Akston, the composer Richard Halley, Judge Narragansett, and many others who have disappeared are all living here. Francisco is also, not surprisingly, a member of the community.
The industrialists have all built businesses, and the valley is self-sufficient. Galt’s motor powers the electricity as well as a special ray screen that hides the valley from the rest of the world. When Galt takes Dagny to see the building where the motor is kept, she reads an inscription above the door: “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 of the valley, and until a person will say it and mean it, he or she cannot live there.
At a dinner at Mulligan’s home, Galt explains to Dagny that they are all on strike. The only men who have never gone on strike in human history, he tells her, are the men who bear the world on their shoulders. All other laborers have at one point or another presented demands to the world. This, he tells her, is the mind on strike.
Summary—Chapter II: The Utopia of Greed
The next morning, Dagny meets the pirate Ragnar Danneskjold, who lives in the valley. He has come for breakfast with Galt and Francisco, who has not arrived yet. Although many of the strikers live in the valley, others, like Francisco, go back and forth to the looters’ world. But every June, all the members of the community spend the month in the valley together. Dagny agrees to stay the month and then decide if she will remain. Although Danneskjold has created an account for her at Mulligan’s bank, she refuses to use the money and instead agrees to work as Galt’s maid to earn her keep.
Owen Kellogg arrives on Dagny’s third day in the valley. He tells her that everyone in the outside world thinks she is dead, including Rearden. The next day Francisco d’Anconia arrives at Galt’s home. He has been searching for Dagny’s plane for days and is shocked and overjoyed when he sees her. He tells her he loves her and knows she will always love him, even if she belongs to another man. Galt forbids any outside communication, so Dagny cannot get word to Rearden that she is safe.
Dagny comes to realize that she is in love with Galt and that he loves her too. He is the man she has always imagined finding. He admits he has watched her from afar for years. Since they are still on opposite sides of the strike, she fears they cannot be together. She also fears Galt will hide his feelings out of concern for Francisco, who still loves her. When Francisco invites her to his home, she turns the question over to Galt, who tells her he wants her to stay with him instead. Galt knows this was a test and that by not descending to self-sacrifice, he has passed. He reminds Dagny that no one stays in the valley under any pretense or emotional shield.