Atlas Shrugged (Part 3, Chapters 8-10)

By Ayn Rand

Cover: Atlas ShruggedChapter 7 broke me, people. I only got through it with a generous bribe of Starbucks. I would go into the Starbucks, get my mocha, and force myself to sit there and read Chapter 7 until I’d finished at least 15 pages. You are lucky that Rebecca recapped that section because my idea was to just post:

Atlas Shrugged (Part 3, Chapter 7): tl;dr

Anyway, I’ve gathered the shards of my broken psyche together enough to just get through the final three chapters for you, dear readers. They were actually pretty fast-paced and action-filled, and I would have enjoyed them a lot more before my aforementioned breakdown.

Chapter 8: The Egoist

Chapter 8 opens with the immediate aftermath of John Galt’s broadcast:

“It wasn’t real, was it?” said Mr. Thompson

Our government moochers go through hysterics, of course, but end up deciding that they need to retroactively approve of the broadcast and publicize that it was their purpose to show different theories for economic recover. The public doesn’t buy it, though, and there are increased reports of public violence and hysteria as people react to Galt’s philosophy, including this charming scenario:

“…the attendants of a hospital in New York City showed no astonishment at the case of a woman who came in with a fractured jaw: she had been slapped in the face by a total stranger, who had heard her ordering her five-year-old son to give his best toy to the children of neighbors.”

The government moochers get increasingly desperate to find John Galt and force him to fix everything for them. The lead moocher, the above-quoted Mr. Thompson, cleverly hints to Dagny that his underlings have a lead on Galt and will most likely kill him when they find him. Dagny agonizes over this for about a paragraph before she naturally caves and runs over to the address she had discovered for him. Of course, she has, in fact, led Thompson’s men directly to Galt, but neither Dagny nor Galt seem all that upset by that.

Thompson’s men promptly arrest Galt and imprison him in the penthouse suite of the fanciest hotel in the city, while Thompson and all his men take turns trying to persuade him to join their cause. He refuses to even respond, short of explaining that he will accept orders but not make any. Of course, this puts Thompson & Co. in a tough spot because they have no idea what orders to give.

The only person John Galt volunteers to talk to is Dr. Robert Stadler, his old teacher who abandoned the righteous path of individualism to head the State Science Institute. Galt doesn’t actually say anything to him, but the sight of the straight lines of his body and the purity of his face sends Stadler completely to pieces.

Thompson plays his final card and drags Galt at gunpoint to a banquet to publicly announce the John Galt Plan for Peace, Prosperity and Profit. In front of the radio and TV reports, Galt reveals he is only there by gunpoint and simply says “Get the hell out of my way!”

Chapter 9: The Generator

Dr. Stadler hears the banquet fiasco over the radio while driving madly across the countryside, rushing toward Project X with vague ideas of taking it over and showing them all! He bluffs his way into the building, past all guards, until he gets to the main goon in charge. Main Goon refuses to give up the controls and the two fight over them until they manage to discharge a sound wave that flattens everything in a hundred mile radius, including both the Taggert Bridge and Project X itself (as well as both Main Good and Dr. Stadler, who we are told dies in great pain, as is his just punishment).

During this same time, Dagny is ingratiating herself with Thompson & Co. in order to learn their plans for Galt. Thompson is all out of ideas, but one of his minions suggests the time has come for physical torture. Dagny strolls disinterestedly out before racing to a public phone (remember those?) to call Francisco and let him know that a rescue is in order. While she waits for Francisco at her office, one of the Taggert engineers informs her that the Taggert Bridge is destroyed and she accepts that Taggert Transcontinental is done.

Dr. Ferris (I can’t remember if I’ve mentioned him before and I don’t care, but he was Dr. Stadler’s press rep) has invented a personal torture device which Rebecca pointed out sounds a whole lot like the one used on the Dread Pirate Roberts. They torture him (although his body reacts to the pain, his pure face remains calm) until the device breaks, and he kind of hilariously talks the resident mechanic through fixing it. The mechanic realizes there is something seriously wrong with this, and abandons the whole thing.

The rest are ready to follow him in discouragement, but Jim Taggert is adamant that they continue. In his frenzy, Jim can no longer deny that he just wants Galt to die and that his whole life has been in the effort of killing any ability; this realization is too much for Jim and he goes catatonic. The others jump on this excuse to bail in order to get Jim some help. (The chapter title initially refers to the torture device, but the end makes it clear that Galt himself is the true generator.)

Chapter 10: In The Name of the Best Within Us

Dagny, Francisco, and Hank break into the torture chamber with a combination of bluffing and guns. They free Galt and everyone boards a plane to fly back to Galt’s valley (I hate the word “gulch” and I’m not going to use it anymore). As they fly home, the last shreds of electricity in New York City goes out, leaving the entire country in utter darkness.

For the last several chapters, Eddie Willers has been California, trying to straighten out the factions fighting over the Taggert terminal there, and is headed home, when his train breaks down. No one can fix it and they seem to be completely stranded until a covered wagon convoy comes by and picks them up. Eddie is appalled by the reversal of technology, and refuses to join the convoy. He is left sobbing in the dark of the broken engine, which seems a bit of a rough end for his years of loyalty to Dagny.

In the final pages of the chapter and book, the populace of Galt’s valley has started to plan their rebuilding of society. Rebecca and I are both somewhat surprised that no fan has tried to write a sequel to Atlas Shrugged; it would be a huge mistake, of course, but that didn’t stop the publication of Scarlet or tons of other ill-advised posthumous revisits.

And, that’s it. I’m DONE! I’m really, finally done! HA! HAHA! HAHAHAHAHA! HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA! <sob>

—Anna

6 comments on “Atlas Shrugged (Part 3, Chapters 8-10)

  1. Rebecca says:

    Hah! You’ve made it through! You can now honestly say that you have read “Atlas Shrugged”!

    And yeah, I’m not sure what to think about Eddie Willers being left behind to either starve or get eaten by coyotes.

    Anyway, I was double checking to see if anyone had written a sequel (apparently not, or if they have it’s being blocked on google by articles about the movies) when I found this lovely argument for how the events in Atlas Shrugged lead to creating the dystopian society of Ayn Rand’s Anthem.

  2. Okay, now that you’ve finished Atlas Shrugged, here’s a discussion and light analysis of the novel (by an Objectivist with a Ph.D in philosophy): Explore Atlas Shrugged

    • Anna says:

      Thanks, I do really enjoy podcasts, so I’ll check those out! In the end, I can’t say that I enjoyed the book, exactly, but I was still very impressed with its scope and am very glad that I read it. Perhaps most importantly and disappointingly (for me), I feel that I can no longer mock people who love it (thereby negating my entire original motivation for reading the book).

      It did occur to me about halfway through the book that Atlas Shrugged would make an incredible, seminar-style college course, with interdisciplinary connections to both Russian and U.S. history and economics, as well as philosophy, of course.

    • Rebecca says:

      Thanks for the link! I just finished listening to Dr. Hsieh’s podcast on John Galt’s speech. I was impressed by the way she was able to organize and summarize it. I was disappointed, though, that she point-blank refused to respond to any of the criticisms.

  3. Kinsey says:

    Whoo! You guys did it! And it probably took only a few months off your lives! Next time we plan to do a blog read-along, let’s do, like, a short-story.

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