When Hank Reardon and Dagny Taggart searched the abandoned 20th Century Motor Company, they found the prototype of John Galt's motor along with some documents describing it. However, the documents related to it were incomplete, missing what Robert Standler and some other characters described as the most important parts (e.g. John Galt's definition of energy and some other basic facts).

John Galt later told Dagny that he left the prototype there because it was their rightful property, given that they had paid him to develop it. He also wasn't too concerned that they'd actually use it.

What about the manual? It seems odd that a lot of the manual was there, but it was only missing the most important parts. For example, if someone used the missing pages as fuel for a fire or something like that (like a lot of the other paper in the plant was), wouldn't they have just burned the whole thing? Why bother using only a few pages? Did John Galt (or William Hastings, John Galt's boss who later joined the Strike) remove the most important pieces? If so, why didn't they regard the manual as the new owners' property, too? If they didn't remove it, why did John Galt and William Hastings risk someone reading the documents and learning the secret of the motor?

2 Answers 2


Given that all but the most important parts of the manual were intact, presumably one of them did remove it. (Most likely, it was William Hastings who removed it, given that John Galt simply walked out of the factory and William Hastings didn't quit until the next day).

In addition to the selectively-removed page, we also have the fact that John evidently regarded the knowledge about the motor as his intellectual property. Later in the book, he's seen collecting royalties on the power plant from Midas Mulligan, and at the end of the book he agrees to do a job for Taggart Transcontinental designing new engines based on his motor.

Fundamentally, the book treats it as his motor, not just the 20th Century Motor Company's motor.


I would say that this is a big hole in the book. John Galt basically used paid company time and laboratory to develop magical pixie dust that powered his society. Not only did he not give his employers what they paid for, but he used it without their permission. Story would have been a bit different if rest of the society was run on the magical energy while Galt's strikers had to dig for coal and drill for oil with no energy to get them started.

Now you could say that patents are government enforced monopolies, except that Ayn Rand made a huge deal about Rearden signing away patent rights to his metal for everyone to use.

Similarly, book refers to Francisco D'anconia's copper mines, when in fact they belong to his shareholders, including Jim Taggart. And the whole society is aiding and abetting a pirate.

  • The odd thing is that at one point John Galt saw the original prototype itself as his employer's property (which is why he left it there to be found later by Henry Rearden and Dagny Taggart). It does seem slightly odd that he didn't appear to see the knowledge that made the prototype work in the first place as their property as well. You have a point about this possibly being a genuine plot hole. May 3, 2018 at 17:50
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    I don't understand how this answers the question? The OP is asking whether Galt or Hastings removed parts of the manual, and I can't see where you've addressed that in your answer?
    – Rand al'Thor
    May 3, 2018 at 20:47
  • @Randal'Thor I think that his point is that John Galt treats the motor as his property in general (not just with regards to the manual), even though he developed it for his employers. This would suggest that they wouldn't necessarily have had a problem with removing the most important parts of the manual. May 8, 2018 at 13:22

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