Please wait while we process your payment
If you don't see it, please check your spam folder. Sometimes it can end up there.
Don’t have an account?
Create Your Account
Sign up for your FREE 7-day trial
Already have an account? Log in
Choose Your Plan
$4.99/month + tax
$24.99/year + tax
Save over 50% with a SparkNotes PLUS Annual Plan!
for a group?
Get Annual Plans at a discount when you buy 2 or more!
$18.74 /subscription + tax
Subtotal $37.48 + tax
on 2-49 accounts
on 50-99 accounts
Want 100 or more?
for a customized plan.
You'll be billed after your free trial ends.
7-Day Free Trial
Renews December 17, 2023
December 10, 2023
Discounts (applied to next billing)
This is not a valid promo code.
(one code per order)
Annual Plan - Group Discount
SparkNotes Plus subscription is $4.99/month or $24.99/year as selected above. The free trial period is the first 7 days of your subscription. TO CANCEL YOUR SUBSCRIPTION AND AVOID BEING CHARGED, YOU MUST CANCEL BEFORE THE END OF THE FREE TRIAL PERIOD. You may cancel your subscription on your Subscription and Billing page or contact Customer Support at email@example.com. Your subscription will continue automatically once the free trial period is over. Free trial is available to new customers only.
For the next 7 days, you'll have access to awesome PLUS stuff like AP English test prep, No Fear Shakespeare translations and audio, a note-taking tool, personalized dashboard, & much more!
You’ve successfully purchased a group discount. Your group members can use the joining link below to redeem their group membership. You'll also receive an email with the link.
Members will be prompted to log in or create an account to redeem their group membership.
Thanks for creating a SparkNotes account! Continue to start your free trial.
Your PLUS subscription has expired
In rural Iowa, the government unveils the Thompson Harmonizer,
a new super-weapon, the result of the mysterious Project X. Although he
has known nothing of it, Dr. Robert Stadler finds himself being credited
with its creation and coerced to speak at the unveiling event. The
weapon uses sound waves to destroy all living things within its
radius. Dr. Floyd Ferris convinces him it is necessary to control
an increasingly hysterical population. The stunned and horrified
audience watches as a farmhouse and some goats are torn to shreds
by the machine, but no one comments. Wesley Mouch declares it to
be a wonderful instrument of peace.
Dagny calls Rearden to tell him she is alive. When she
returns to the office, she learns that the government has passed
the Railroad Unification Plan. Under it, all the railroads will
pool profits and distribute them according to the mileage of track
each railroad maintains. Taggart stands to make a huge profit because
it owns the most track. Eddie is meeting with Cuffy Meigs, the head
of the Unification Board, who is in charge of the new plan. Under
his orders, trains are being rerouted and used as favors for influential
Jim insists that Dagny appear on a radio show that night
to reassure the public that she has not deserted and that the railroads
are safe. She refuses. Later, Lillian visits her and tells her that
her affair with Rearden will be exposed if she does no go on the
air. She agrees to appear. When she speaks on the air, she proudly
tells the public about her affair with Rearden and about the blackmail
used to force him to sign over the rights to Rearden Metal. When
she sees Rearden later that night, he finally confesses his love
for her, although he already knows he has lost her to the man she
truly loves. Her speech on the radio had been delivered in the past
tense. When she tells him that her love’s name is John Galt, he
is astonished. He suspects where she has been.
Jim Taggart is pleased with a deal he has just arranged.
Argentina has been declared a People’s State, and d’Anconia Copper
will be nationalized in less than a month. Knowing this in advance,
Taggart transfers his investments from d’Anconia Copper to a new
company, which will control its assets after the nationalization.
Aware that he will make a fortune he feels a vague desire to celebrate.
He hopes that his wife, Cherryl, will give him the admiration he
seeks, but she is no longer in awe of him, having realized his true
nature in the year since their wedding. She has learned the true
story of the John Galt Line, and suspects some terrible evil in
Jim. When he drinks a toast to destroying Francisco, she leaves
Cherryl goes to see Dagny. She offers an apology for accusing Dagny
of being the weak and evil one at Taggart. She knows now it was
Dagny who created all the success and Jim who was wrong. Dagny accepts
her apology and offers to help Cherryl. She talks about the evil
of giving to the undeserving and about the importance of justice,
and Cherryl finally feels she is understood.
Back at Jim’s apartment, Lillian Rearden appears. She
has come to ask Jim to use his influence to prevent Rearden from
divorcing her, but he cannot help her. In a final attempt to hurt
Rearden, she has emotionless sex with Jim.
When Cherryl returns, it is clear Jim has been unfaithful.
He admits it and says he will never give her a divorce, and she
is stuck with him. She asks why he married her. He tells her viciously
that he married her because she was worthless, because he wanted
her to accept his love as alms. She realizes that he really married
her because she was struggling to rise above the gutter, and it
was this struggle he wanted to destroy. She tells him he
is a killer for the sake of killing, and he slaps her. She runs
out into the street, where a social worker sees her and tells her
that her despair is a result of her selfishness. This is too much
to take, and she jumps off a bridge and drowns.
Project X reveals the extent to which the looters’ regime
depends on sheer brute force. The monstrous machine, built using
scientific principles discovered by Dr. Stadler, demonstrates what
is created when the mind is used by the state for its own ends.
With the machine at its disposal, the government has become a true
dictatorship, able to dominate its people through threats and violence.
Stadler’s willingness to participate in the unveiling marks the
final collapse of his integrity. He has known nothing of the project
and realizes that his name is being associated with it to make the
public more accepting. At first, he is outraged at being used and
horrified by the machine itself, but he does as he is told, even
agreeing to read the speech prepared for him by the government.
He now stands fully with the looters.
The Railroad Unification plan is another example of the
absurd efforts of the government. But this time there is no effort
to even hide the absurdity or pretend that the good of the nation
will be served. The plan benefits only Taggart Transcontinental
and the well-connected Jim Taggart, who is credited with delivering Rearden
to the looters. Taggart has been using the tracks of other railroads
to get around the destroyed tunnel but is not responsible for maintaining
them. Meanwhile, Taggart owns more track than anyone, but most of
it is unused. By crafting the plan to reward income based on amount
of track owned instead of service provided, Taggart will reap huge
profits. Smaller railroads will maintain the lines it is using,
and its own lines will carry almost no traffic. The most successful
railroad under the plan would be one that owns the most track but
runs no trains at all.
Dagny’s radio address is a triumph of reason and honesty
over deceit and denial. At first, she refuses to appear because
to do so would imply her endorsement of the Railroad Unification
Plan and would suggest the industry is not in shambles. Both would
be lies. But when she learns of the blackmail used on Rearden, she
welcomes the opportunity to avenge him. She is not bothered by publicly
revealing her affair with Rearden. As she has said before, she is proud
of it, and her own opinion is the only one that matters to her. Dagny
does not believe in the separation of the mind and body that would
make her physical desires base and shameful. For her, the desires
of the body are connected to the rational perceptions of the mind.
She and Rearden desired each other because of their respect and
admiration for each other.
In stark contrast to the passion Dagny and Rearden have
shared, Jim and Lillian’s encounter is tawdry and cheap. They are
not motivated by respect or admiration, or even the desire for a
moment’s pleasure. They are drawn to each other by their need to
destroy Rearden. The only words spoken between them is Jim’s reference
to Lillian as “Mrs. Rearden.” Lillian is still married to Rearden
and believes she can hurt him with her infidelity. Rearden, of course,
is far beyond caring, but Lillian does not know that. Finally, the
picture of Jim is now complete. He is, as Cherryl accuses him, a
killer for the sake of killing. He is a nihilist, seeking and enjoying
the destruction of others. Although the rest of the looters are
motivated by the quest for power and money, Jim does not enjoy these
things the way he enjoys destroying men of integrity. His desire
to celebrate the Argentinean deal has less to do with the fortune
he stands to make than with the prospect of Francisco’s ruin. Throughout
his life, he has been driven to destroy the strong, capable people
around him. Unable to accomplish his goal, he has chosen Cherryl
as a substitute, because she is easier to destroy.
In Cherryl Brooks, Rand presents a true victim. Cherryl
endures a profound transformation, from worshipping the best in
people and believing she has found it in Jim, to comprehending evil
in its purest form. When she sees Jim laid bare as the
killer he is, she finds herself trapped. Though Dagny can offer
her a brief refuge from the evil, she has no form of escape, either
from her marriage or ultimately from the society in which Jim’s
values prevail. Her suicide is her way out, just as withdrawal from
the looters’ world is the strikers’ way out.
Ace your assignments with our guide to Atlas Shrugged!