11 votes
Accepted

What is the significance of the fact that the covered wagons were traveling East at the end of Atlas Shrugged?

“Just going, brother! Just looking for some place to stop . . . somewhere. We're from Imperial Valley, California. The 'People's Party' crowd grabbed the crops and any food we had in the cellars. ...
  • 4,226
7 votes
Accepted

Did Rand think that people in the real world were that stupid?

While researching this question, I found a sort of answer. According to the novel's Wikipedia page Rand herself stated, "My characters are never symbols, they are merely men in sharper focus ...
  • 5,724
5 votes
Accepted

Why did John Galt explain how to fix the torture device?

The subsequent paragraph explains this seeming contradiction: Galt was running the risk that the machine would be fixed, in order to win a larger battle: to scare the torturers (and the way I read it, ...
  • 4,226
4 votes
Accepted

How much of the Looters' philosophy did Fred Kinnan actually accept?

I agree with your statement that "he openly admits that he's going along with Directive 10-289 because he's a racketeer". In discussions with the looters, Kinnan is aloof and jaded, and seems to ...
4 votes

What are we supposed to learn about the reality in "Atlas Shrugged" from "The Vulture is Molting"?

First of all, that book is actually an antithesis of "Atlas Shrugged" itself - the book about how bad and evil the entrepreneurs are. This point of view is shared even by vitriolic critics of Rand, ...
  • 4,226
4 votes

What are we supposed to learn about the reality in "Atlas Shrugged" from "The Vulture is Molting"?

Immediately before this, Dagny had learned (much to her chagrin) that Dick McNamara had inexplicably vanished right before he was supposed to start work on the Rio Norte/John Galt Line. There was no ...
4 votes

Was Atlas Shrugged set in the future or the present?

TL;DR: It is meant by author to be set in indeterminable "close future to the reader" time, but can be pegged from textual clues to possibly be set in 1945-1957 As per Objectivism Reference ...
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4 votes
Accepted

How could Francisco d’Anconia work for Reardon without breaking his oath?

I think that what Francisco did would not violate the oath. The actual oath that had to be sworn to join the strikers is described in Part III Chapter One as follows: I SWEAR BY MY LIFE AND MY LOVE ...
  • 2,747
3 votes
Accepted

Why did Owen Kellogg have a practical need for physics but Dagney didn't?

A few possible answers: It's not logical - this is a genuine mistake. Owen Kellogg was planning on going into a different profession. (I don't think that that one is the most likely explanation ...
3 votes
Accepted

Under Ayn Rand's philosophy, would the Strikers have the right to use and/or re-open abandoned factories and equipment?

Absolutely yes, because it would be consistent with the strikers' long game and moral code. They forbade themselves from using their minds and labor to benefit society while the strike was on. But ...
3 votes
Accepted

How much did Eddie Willers understand about his situation by the end of Atlas Shrugged?

He actually understood a fair amount about his situation towards the end of the book. His feeling here is at least partially represented by a giant calendar that a mayor had had erected over the city ...
3 votes
Accepted

Why were Howard Roark and John Galt both from Ohio?

Ayn Rand's husband, Frank O'Connor, was born in Lorrain, Ohio. When in the process of creating great works it sometimes helps to stay grounded through your most solid partner-rock. Best available ...
3 votes
Accepted

What was Fred Kinnan gaining from his racket?

Related: How much of the Looters' philosophy did Fred Kinnan actually accept? I think that the key phrase here comes at the end of that speech: "...Sure, it makes me sick sometimes, it makes ...
3 votes
Accepted

Why didn't Jim Taggart realize his real motive for saying this?

Jim Taggart, along with most the looters, are in a constant battle of self-contradiction. We learn from Hugh Akston that contradictions don't exist. Yet Jim and the others try to live with their ...
3 votes
Accepted

Where did the Deserters go?

I can make an educated guess based on a few clues left in the book. Consider the following passage: There were whispered rumors of covered wagons traveling by night through abandoned trails, and ...
2 votes

Did Rand think that people in the real world were that stupid?

I think your second hunch is closer to the truth: "she exaggerated their irrationalities for the purpose of illustrating her philosophy". Although a huge fan of Atlas Shrugged, I have often been ...
2 votes
Accepted

How should we view Dan Conway?

While many of Ayn Rand's characters are completely unambiguous (Hank Rearden is good, Head of State Thompson is bad), some are ambiguous or mixed. Also, Ayn Rand is trying to include different "types"...
2 votes
Accepted

In what way was Dr. Robert Stadler based on Robert Oppenheimer?

As described in my answer here, Ayn Rand interviewed Dr. Oppenheimer multiple times for a movie she was writing about the Atomic Bomb. That movie was never actually made; the only place that she seems ...
2 votes
Accepted

Why and how is Mr. Thompson based on Harry S. Truman?

I think there is some compelling circumstantial evidence that Mr. Thompson was based on Harry Truman: First and most conclusively, the timeline fits. Truman was president from 1945 to 1953. Atlas ...
2 votes
Accepted

Why did all of the Taggart Transcontinental engineers volunteer to drive the first train on the John Galt Line?

For the same reason that a lot of people responded positively to Reardon's speech at his trial. As Hank Reardon reflected at his trial: The guilt is ours, [Hank] thought. If we who were the movers, ...
2 votes

Why did Robert Stadler claim that John Galt was "probably a second assistant bookkeeper somewhere"?

Later, when Dagney saw Stadler on a different occasion, it becomes clear that Dr. Stadler didn't want to believe that "who is John Galt?" referred to the John Galt he knew. They were silent, then [...
2 votes
Accepted

Why did Robert Stadler claim that John Galt was "probably a second assistant bookkeeper somewhere"?

Well, Galt did disappear - he went straight to 20th Century Motor corp in a junior position, and the developments there escaped the public domain, except for the oblique 'Who's John Galt' the origins ...
2 votes
Accepted

What kind of engineer was Owen Kellogg?

He clearly has some knowledge of engineering as a field of occupation. Upon finding a broken phone with Dagny, he is able to evaluate if the wiring and determine that the current is on. Not exactly ...
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2 votes
Accepted

Was Jim Taggart's physical abuse of his wife supposed to parallel and contrast with Hank Reardon's gift of the Ruby Pendant to Dagny Taggart?

Yes, it was a deliberate parallel. There are few purely coincidental or insignificant details in Atlas Shrugged. One of the text's major goals is to show the "interconnectedness" of various ...
2 votes
Accepted

How would the Strikers re-emerge if there were so few competent people left in the world?

There are a few possible answers here. First, the world wasn't completely devoid of competent individuals. Ragnar Danneskjöld had found competent people to trade with even in the various People's ...
2 votes
Accepted

Was Mr. Thompson actually worried that John Galt might be dead?

There are two factors to be considered here: first, Mr. Thompson seems to genuinely want to find John Galt and to negotiate with him. His belief seems perfectly sincere (or, at least, as sincere as ...
2 votes
Accepted

Why did Dr. Pritchett criticize Francisco d'Anconia's (supposed) lifestyle given his own philosophy?

Dr. Pritchett, like all the looters, had a double standard. Although he espoused mushy logic so that the unsuspecting public could be more easily duped, controlled, and herded, he still wanted the ...
2 votes
Accepted

Why was Francisco d'Anconia amused by Ellis Wyatt's imminent demise?

Schadenfreude. Francisco hates government planners and policy makers. He likes to see them fail. But what is it that he finds amusing? He knows something they don't know and he knows people better ...
  • 488
2 votes

Why did Rand use opaque references to government bodies and offices in Atlas Shrugged?

I don't have the exact reference in front of me, but Ayn Rand deliberately referred to Mr. Thompson as the "Head of State" (rather than the President of the United States) because she felt that the ...
2 votes
Accepted

Was John Galt foolish in wanting to return to the world so quickly?

We're not told exactly how much time passed, but I agree with you - it doesn't seem like a lot of time in the book. The book glosses over the details of what happened in the interim. John Galt is also ...

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