Atlas Shrugged | Study Guide

Ayn Rand

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Course Hero. "Atlas Shrugged Study Guide." June 14, 2017. Accessed September 27, 2023.


Course Hero, "Atlas Shrugged Study Guide," June 14, 2017, accessed September 27, 2023,


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Ayn Rand

Year Published





Dystopian, Philosophy

Perspective and Narrator

Atlas Shrugged is narrated by a third-person omniscient narrator. The narrator's access to the inner and outer lives of a variety of characters allows Ayn Rand to explore the emotional and moral differences between the book's heroes and its villains.


Atlas Shrugged is told in the past tense. It is set in a mythic era when railroads are the dominant form of transportation, but the narrative mentions a range of technologies, including telegrams, telephones, radio, television, cars, airplanes, and even covered wagons.

About the Title

In Greek legend, Atlas is the world-bearer, responsible for holding the world on his shoulders. In Atlas Shrugged, one of the main characters, Francisco d'Anconia, explains what Atlas should do when he is suffering under the weight of the world: he should shrug, relieving himself of his burden. This parable is a central premise of the novel, which describes the societal collapse that results when the world's great industrialists, scientists, and thinkers grow tired of supporting an ungrateful and entitled society, and "shrug" it off by going on strike.

The three section titles of Atlas Shrugged are references to the work of the ancient Greek philosopher Aristotle (384–322 BCE). Each title refers to an Aristotelian law of thought; Rand uses these laws as the foundation for her own philosophy of Objectivism.


This study guide and infographic for Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged offer summary and analysis on themes, symbols, and other literary devices found in the text. Explore Course Hero's library of literature materials, including documents and Q&A pairs.

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