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Atlas Shrugged - Week 3: Ch 5&6

Primeperiwinkle

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Atlas Shrugged - Week 3: Ch 5 & 6
Book Discussion Guidelines and Schedule


It’s Friday people let’s discuss!!! Woooot!

Chapter 5
Eddie hands Dagny the newspaper which announces that the San Sebastián Mines are worthless, have always been worthless and that d’Anconio had to have known for the last five years that they were worthless. The failure of this mine means the loss of fifteen million dollars to him but forty million to Taggart Transcontinental. She goes to meet Francisco. On the way she remembers their childhood together.

She remembers their close friendship, their twin ambitions to honor their separate ancestors. She remembers his determination to work, his keen mind, and his claiming of her at sixteen. She remembers a night where his control broke and he whispered to her that “I can’t give it up! I can’t!” but never fully explained what he meant, only telling her “Don’t wait for me, Dagny ... Remember that I told you this and that it is was all I could tell you.”

Ten years have passed since that intimate night, during which he did not visit her but instead acted consistent with a playboy.
She goes to his hotel room in the present day, angry about the San Sebastián line. She guesses only some of his full intention about this farce but it is clear that Francisco actually planned the entire thing for several inexplicable reasons.

Chapter 6
Rearden has forgotten about his anniversary party that Lillian planned. He forces himself to get ready while wondering about their marriage. Lillian uses highly refined passive aggressive techniques against him. Francisco and Rearden meet. Rearden notices Dagny’s physical attractiveness.
Dr. Pritchett who teaches at the same school Francisco went to says that “There aren’t any standards.... the duty of thinkers is not to explain but to demonstrate that nothing can be explained.” Francisco didn’t study under Dr. Pritchard but under another teacher, Hugh Akston who was “one of the great names of the last century” Francisco defends all his actions by declaring that he was just practicing what the whole world was preaching.
Old ladies discuss a pirate named Ragnar Danneskjöld who also went to Patrick Henry University.

We hear the origin story of John Galt who chose to sink his ship to reach Atlantis.

Dagny trades her diamond bracelet for Lillian’s simple Rearden Metal, publicly.

After the party, Hank again meditates on his eight married years of tortured loneliness and has no answers about Lillian.

My thoughts:
Saved for later so as to force ppl to share their thoughts first. Ha!
 

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Kruiser

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So, clearly the most unrealistic part of the book so far is that international business titans send their sons to school in Cleveland, Ohio. That is definitely part of the "parallel universe" aspect of the book. :)

D'Anconia is a fascinating mystery. International man of mystery. What's his deal? He feels forced to stay away from Dagny and won't tell her why. What is he giving up? What is "it"? Dagny? His business ambitions? And becoming an international playboy... is he for real? Is he acting? Is he simply lost? Is there some deeper, non-obvious purpose?

I suspect his undergrad studies in Cleveland has something to do with it. Was he philosophically corrupted at Patrick Henry? Maybe he now sees life as some nihilistic game and he is using his incredible talent simply to mess with people for the pure devious fun of it. Or is he playing some kind of three dimensional chess, like trying to bring the whole system down to ultimately take it all over?

The party scene shows the complete alignment of the "elites" against producers. Business folks like James Taggart, politicos, novelists, the press, and academia.

Dagny's bracelet move. Definitely bad a$$. But... could any words more clearly state, "Imma take your man," than her actions did?

Which leads me to ask, "Are Dagny and Rearden the heros of this story?" Some of Rand's characters are very one-dimensional (e.g. James Taggart). Is Dagny simply the one-dimensional opposite of James Taggart? I don't think so. Dagny, Rearden, and D'Anconia seem like they have a little more depth than some of the other characters.

Certainly Dagny is portrayed as a very attractive character. We follow her and cheer her on.

If she is a hero, will she be a tragic hero? And, if so, what is her tragic flaw that will bring her down?
 

BellaPippin

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If I remember well from the chapter is that Lillian doesn’t think twice about the bracelet. I feel it’s either another super forced/unrealistic or she’s a sociopath of sorts lol. Like after the fact she didn’t learn anything or thought anything of it. Still in conflict with this extreme-ness of some characters. Like can you be that oblivious or are you Paris Hilton or what

P.S. since yesterday I was like “tomorrow is the new thread!” Look at me so early to answer lol
 

lludwig

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In chapter 6 parts of me feel sorry for Rearden while also wonder if he's the creator of his own issues.

Meaning with Lillian and their what sounds like a non-relationship marriage. Why stay married to her?
 

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In chapter 6 parts of me feel sorry for Rearden while also wonder if he's the creator of his own issues.

Meaning with Lillian and their what sounds like a non-relationship marriage. Why stay married to her?
Considering the time it was written at, divorce wasn't as widely well seen I guess, and it seems they both come from very conservative backgrounds. IIRC it is mentioned or easily inferred he's very self-righteous and sort of believes he took the vows now can't go back
 

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Looks like my guess they would ban Rearden Metal was wrong, but they're making an even dumber law so maybe I was half-right? And knowing how things work in Ayn Rand's universe there's a 100% chance it gets passed.

I have more predictions, pretty much all based on Francisco's off-hand comment about confirming the story of John Galt.
If we assume Atlantis is real (which is likely since Francisco confirmed it and Francisco never lies), a lot of the puzzles start to make sense. The people of Atlantis probably only let certain outsiders in, most likely based on their greatness/purpose. I'm predicting they took in Richard Halley after he "retired" where he wrote his 5th concerto. That train mechanic guy has probably been to Atlantis and heard it (how/why would a random train worker go to Atlantis though?). I'm also predicting that Francisco's already been there, and his purposeful destructive actions are connected somehow. They're also very secretive about it, which is why the train worker hushed about it, and Francisco couldn't tell Dagny anything in their final flashback meeting.

I was thinking a lot about Jim Taggart too. We know that Atlas Shrugged is supposed to be an exposition of Rand's philosophy, so I think each of her characters was written to believe in some moral value as "supreme" and then follow that moral value to a T. In Jim's case, if that moral value if Fairness, then all his actions make perfect sense.
 
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Primeperiwinkle

Primeperiwinkle

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Looks like my guess they would ban Rearden Metal was wrong, but they're making an even dumber law so maybe I was half-right? And knowing how things work in Ayn Rand's universe there's a 100% chance it gets passed.

I have more predictions, pretty much all based on Francisco's off-hand comment about confirming the story of John Galt.
If we assume Atlantis is real (which is likely since Francisco confirmed it and Francisco never lies), a lot of the puzzles start to make sense. The people of Atlantis probably only let certain outsiders in, most likely based on their greatness/purpose. I'm predicting they took in Richard Halley after he "retired" where he wrote his 5th concerto. That train mechanic guy has probably been to Atlantis and heard it (how/why would a random train worker go to Atlantis though?). I'm also predicting that Francisco's already been there, and his purposeful destructive actions are connected somehow. They're also very secretive about it, which is why the train worker hushed about it, and Francisco couldn't tell Dagny anything in their final flashback meeting.

I was thinking a lot about Jim Taggart too. We know that Atlas Shrugged is supposed to be an exposition of Rand's philosophy, so I think each of her characters was written to believe in some moral value as "supreme" and then follow that moral value to a T. In Jim's case, if that moral value if Fairness, then all his actions make perfect sense.
Your spoiler idea is EVEN BETTER THAN MINE!!! Hahahahaaaa check it out!!

And it’s not a spoiler is it?? I mean we haven’t read the book so we don’t know. They’re all just guesses. Also I wrote the following very late at night and I was feeling quite silly and happy when I wrote this. Js.

My Ridiculously Humorous Thoughts To Lighten the Mood of The Very Dramatic Chapters:

I had no clue I was going to be discussing a romance novel but here we are. I’m going to need ppl to keep me focused on the actual business plot line because I am now just as obsessed about the Dagny/Francisco/Rearden triangle that I was about Twilight. Idgaf if that makes me sound weird - romance novels are a billion dollar industry.
Now that my brain has been rearranged by this new plot line I can safely say that based on my EXTENSIVE research into romance novels that
  1. Francisco is the actual protagonist
  2. Dagny should have read up on Greek mythology and then vowed to wait for him. He loves her.. SO MUCH!
  3. He’s totally gonna use Hank to destroy everything so that
  4. Dagny can see the “truth” of the corruption in the world and then
  5. Something about the Viking. Oooo! Viking. Rawr! I love Vikings.
This book better get back on track soon. If I wanted to read about a chick falling for a dashing Latin guy and then passively receiving sex after he claims her I could go back in time to me when I was 16 and.. nope.. I was already reading about vampires. Lol.
 

Kruiser

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I was thinking a lot about Jim Taggart too. We know that Atlas Shrugged is supposed to be an exposition of Rand's philosophy, so I think each of her characters was written to believe in some moral value as "supreme" and then follow that moral value to a T. In Jim's case, if that moral value if Fairness, then all his actions make perfect sense.
I'm not sure Taggart values fairness supremely. He likes to think he does and he utters statements about fairness all the time. But a lot of his actions are pretty unfair. Taking credit for other people's work. Colluding to deprive other business owners of the benefit of their efforts, etc.

I think what Rand is trying to say through Taggart's character is, "A lot of times the folks crying out the loudest about fairness and the common good are complete hypocrites and full of s***, mooching off the people who are producing value and supposedly being 'selfish'."

That's fair, as far as it goes.

But I think Rand will ultimately go too far in pressing this, arguing that anyone who ever thinks of fairness or the common good is a hypocrite and full of s***.

I could be wrong, but that's my prediction.

And I think that's what I'm ultimately going to conclude about her work: she has some real insights and good points, but pushes them too far and oversimplifies everything.
 

G-Man

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Really love this book, especially a lot of the grandstanding speeches, but I feel like there's only two sorts of characters:
  • Antagonists and peripheral characters who are utterly contemptible and totally realistic
  • Protagonists that are archetypes of ideas and therefore totally unrealistic.
I'm rooting for Hank and Dagny, but they're not real people. Even Lillian doesn't come off as real in the bracelet incident, which tells me she's going to be some sort of Deus Ex mechanism later in the plot.

Only positive person that comes off as kinda real is Francisco, but even he's an archetype. I think Ayn Rand was just visualizing her perfect crush, and the result is the character of Francisco. Don't get me wrong, she clearly has good taste in men, but damn.
 

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So, clearly the most unrealistic part of the book so far is that international business titans send their sons to school in Cleveland, Ohio. That is definitely part of the "parallel universe" aspect of the book. :)
:rofl:

I think this is because Rockefeller got his start in Cleveland. In the era when the book was written, he had just died and was still a pretty big deal and associated with all things Titan-like

If I remember well from the chapter is that Lillian doesn’t think twice about the bracelet. I feel it’s either another super forced/unrealistic or she’s a sociopath of sorts lol. Like after the fact she didn’t learn anything or thought anything of it. Still in conflict with this extreme-ness of some characters. Like can you be that oblivious or are you Paris Hilton or what
Never met anyone who just doesn't care or think about their husband at all? I think I know like 6 people personally :rofl:

I'm not sure Taggart values fairness supremely. He likes to think he does and he utters statements about fairness all the time. But a lot of his actions are pretty unfair. Taking credit for other people's work. Colluding to deprive other business owners of the benefit of their efforts, etc.
IMO so far he's only shown to value what other people think of him, from what I can tell.
 
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Kruiser

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I am now just as obsessed about the Dagny/Francisco/Rearden triangle that I was about Twilight.
Don't forget about Wyatt. There could be a quadrilateral here.

Also, my new theory of D'Anconia: He's learned/decided that the way the world is going (everyone lined up against producers), it is not going to be possible for him to extend the D'Anconia empire the way his forefathers did. He can see farther than others and understands how everything will play out. But rather than simply fading/disappearing/quitting (as so many characters do, like Conway), he's decided to burn it all down to spite the folks that have made his dreams impossible.
 

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Kruiser

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I think this is because Rockefeller got his start in Cleveland. In the era when the book was written, he had just died and was still a pretty big deal and associated with all things Titanous.

IMO so far he's only shown to value what other people think of him, from what I can tell.
Ok, the Cleveland thing makes a lot more sense now. It seemed totally random to me.

I think you're right on Taggart.
 

lludwig

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I have more predictions, pretty much all based on Francisco's off-hand comment about confirming the story of John Galt.
I won't give it away, but I believe you are on the right track (pun intended).
 
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Primeperiwinkle

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And I think that's what I'm ultimately going to conclude about her work: she has some real insights and good points, but pushes them too far and oversimplifies everything.
I agree and yet THATS the beauty of it. I swear this book is half comic book/ half fairy tale which goes directly to the heart of us and make us rethink our own archetypes.
Only positive person that comes off as kinda real is Francisco, but even he's an archetype. I think Ayn Rand was just visualizing her perfect crush, and the result is the character of Francisco. Don't get me wrong, she clearly has good taste in men, but damn.
He’s a trope. It wasn’t overused in Rand’s time but it definitely is now.. powerful guy, slightly haughty, foreign, rich, brilliant and emotionally distant?!?

He’s NOT a great man at all just what modern women conceptualize as a great man. To compare characters all I have to do is bring Little Britches or The Odyssey or any novel where the guy stands by his family, fights to get to them, or endures hardship while caring.

He essentially abandoned her rather than respect her ability to understand his “great” breakthrough. It’s actually a very subtle way of minimizing her inner strength.

Great men trust the women in their life with shit. Great women trust the men in their life with shit. Bottling it up and not confronting it (like Rearden) or changing the world to avoid confrontation is the mark of an emotionally weaker person.
 

G-Man

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I agree and yet THATS the beauty of it. I swear this book is half comic book/ half fairy tale which goes directly to the heart of us and make us rethink our own archetypes.


He’s a trope. It wasn’t overused in Rand’s time but it definitely is now.. powerful guy, slightly haughty, foreign, rich, brilliant and emotionally distant?!?

He’s NOT a great man at all just what modern women conceptualize as a great man. To compare characters all I have to do is bring Little Britches or The Odyssey or any novel where the guy stands by his family, fights to get to them, or endures hardship while caring.

He essentially abandoned her rather than respect her ability to understand his “great” breakthrough. It’s actually a very subtle way of minimizing her inner strength.

Great men trust the women in their life with shit. Great women trust the men in their life with shit. Bottling it up and not confronting it (like Rearden) or changing the world to avoid confrontation is the mark of an emotionally weaker person.
Yeah, I think the only antidote to this is a solid weekend of watching Liam Neeson or Harrison Ford try to get his family back. :rofl:
 

broswoodwork

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He essentially abandoned her rather than respect her ability to understand his “great” breakthrough. It’s actually a very subtle way of minimizing her inner strength.
Maybe, but I'm not sure if Dagny would have wanted to live the way he's been living for 10 years, even if he had a great reason. If she did, he may have worried she did it "just for him", instead of willfully and voluntarily. I think this shows a great appreciation for her strength, assuming that's why.

I hope this isn't a spoiler. I typed it out 3 different ways and deleted them all. Just going to commit to this wording. :)
 
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Maybe, but I'm not sure if Dagny would have wanted to live the way he's been living for 10 years, even if he had a great reason. If she did, he may have worried she did it "just for him", instead of willfully and voluntarily. I think this shows a great appreciation for her strength, assuming that's why.

I hope this isn't a spoiler. I typed it out 3 different ways and deleted them all. Just going to commit to this wording. :)
But that’s what love is right? It’s deciding to do stuff together. I don’t think she was emotionally ready to handle the information that he must have acquired in college but he STOLE that growth opportunity from her AND abandoned her to a decade without him?!??

This is like not telling your wife that you know you’re going to lose your job a year and a half from now because “she can’t handle it”.

Now, in some marriages they don’t go over every little detail of their lives right? It’s a partnership. Everybody handles their domain or their little kingdom and the two kingdoms support each other.. but his a$$ just left!

He could have lovingly shared the information or introduced her to the professor or invited her to travel with him or ... anything really .. besides just up and deciding to LITERALLY ORCHESTRATE A FINANCIAL CATASTROPHE to show her the corruption in the world?!

And this is of course all my own conjecture. We could be utterly wrong.

The way this book twists the next chapters might all be about Eddie and the Brakeman traveling to The People’s State of China!
 
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Primeperiwinkle

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Ok but let’s discuss the convo between Hank and Francisco. Is it just me or is Francisco sizing him up to later destroy him too??
 

Jon L

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So I was going to follow along with just two chapters a week, but then Audible just kept turning on somehow every time I got up to do something (gym, car, kitchen, etc). Finished the book yesterday. All 52 hours worth.

Is it 'great literature?' No, not in the traditional sense. But its the kind of thing that makes me think about things differently. It got under my skin in a way that not many books do, even as I was annoyed with the writing style and the apparent lack of depth of the characters.

What's interesting about the characters is that, yes, they are all shallow archetypes, as other people have mentioned. However. And this is a big 'however,' what happens after you walk away from the book for a bit is that you begin to notice a bit of Dagney in someone, or a bit of James Taggart in someone else. I've noticed some interesting combinations of several characters in myself just today.

Rand's predictions on where certain philosophies lead is pretty spot on, so, when I notice myself whining, I have a little more reason to avoid the fate of a James Taggart. I can also notice when I should be more bold about things - for example, not apologizing for charging a fair price for the value I bring to a client.
 

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Ok but let’s discuss the convo between Hank and Francisco. Is it just me or is Francisco sizing him up to later destroy him too??
Yes on sizing him up, but I think it’s a soft approach for a future recruitment of some kind
 

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Ok but let’s discuss the convo between Hank and Francisco. Is it just me or is Francisco sizing him up to later destroy him too??
Yes on sizing him up, but I think it’s a soft approach for a future recruitment of some kind
He definitely keeps the story moving. Re-reading it, you half expect him to turn and wink at the audience.
 
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Primeperiwinkle

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Guys. Nobody’s discussing Francisco’s Dad or his education.

Or the slap.

Or the Viking guy.

Are y’all huddled up reading the next chapters already? Come on.. say it ain’t so.
 

WJS

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Dagny trades her diamond bracelet for Lillian’s simple Rearden Metal, publicly.
Lilian is a very smart person, but I think this is probably her dumbest move in her entire life. Trade her husband's extremely thoughtful, one-of-a-kind gift for a diamond bracelet, which she most likely has plenty, and to do so in public? Seriously, no matter how undesirable someone's gift is, you're obligated to at least show some form of appreciation - keep it at home if you really don't value it, but don't throw it away like that. She'll likely regret her actions later.

Henry must have disliked her wife even more after this. I know I would if someone close to me do this. She has pushed him further away (despite wanting and trying hard to connect with him) and made a fool of herself.
 

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Guys. Nobody’s discussing Francisco’s Dad or his education.

Or the slap.

Or the Viking guy.

Are y’all huddled up reading the next chapters already? Come on.. say it ain’t so.
100% got ahead. It’s just too good, and my commute is too long. I paused and I’m listening to Scott Adams while you catch up.
 
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Primeperiwinkle

Primeperiwinkle

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100% got ahead. It’s just too good, and my commute is too long. I paused and I’m listening to Scott Adams while you catch up.
Thank you for waiting. I appreciate it a lot!!!
 

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