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
8 votes
Accepted

What is the historical basis for Roark's claim about the Parthenon?

The historical part of "The famous flutings on the the famous columns—what are they there for? To hide the joints in the wood" is accurate. When using squared shapes (i.e. lengths of wood) ...
  • 3,705
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
6 votes

What is the historical basis for Roark's claim about the Parthenon?

While the other answers already point out both the technical basis for Roark's claims as well as a general cultural precedent for disregarding the blind following of tradition for tradition's sake in ...
6 votes
Accepted

Was Ellsworth Toohey's public speaking style modeled after Harold Laski?

The Journals of Ayn Rand (p. 113 in my edition) cite the following comments from an interview she gave in 1961: Laski was the soul of Ellsworth Toohey in the flesh. After seeing Laski, I just had ...
6 votes
Accepted

Why do Ayn Rand's novels present specific, real things in a context designed to make them appear frivolous or ridiculous?

WRT the "grapefruit incident", Cuffy Meigs ordered the Comet taken off the schedule for two days in order to have it pick up some grapefruit: "And he's cancelled a coal train in order ...
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

Isn't Ayn Rand a bit irrational in her criticism of altrusim in The Fountainhead?

First, as a disclaimer, I actually don't agree with objectivism, but I'll try to summarize her position/arguments here. I think that this represents at least some of the arguments and claims that she ...
4 votes
Accepted

Why did people feel like Howard Roark didn't see them?

It's because he doesn't "see" them for he doesn’t care about them and this lack of recognition shatters the very existence of people who only define themselves through others. This cuts ...
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 ...
  • 4,226
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 were Ellsworth Toohey and Peter Keating so afraid of the identity of Ellsworth Toohey's assailant?

Keating was aware of how tremendously talented Mallory was though he wouldn't accept it himself. Because accepting that would mean accepting his own lack of worth. And this conflict of them (men like ...
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

How expensive was electricity during The Fountainhead?

This is a really guesstimate-y answer. Proceed with caution. It's dark around 12 hours a day, and assuming they worked 16 hours a day (we also assume here my ridiculous assumptions will balance out) ...
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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 ...
3 votes
Accepted

Why did Ellsworth Toohey advise people against doing what they really wanted when he was a career advisor?

The key part of the quote is: It was said that Ellsworth Toohey had exercised a beneficent influence upon them - for they never forgot him: they came to consult him on many things, years later, ...
3 votes
Accepted

Did Howard Roark contradict Henry Rearden on the purpose of work?

Okay, to begin with you must not think merely of money as the motivator in human existence. Ayn Rand wrote both of these books to promote her own philosophy called objectivism, which is the premise ...
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, ...

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