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Atlas Shrugged | Study Guide

Ayn Rand

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Atlas Shrugged | Part 1, Chapter 5 : Non-Contradiction (The Climax of the d'Anconias) | Summary



The People's State of Mexico is in an "uproar of indignation" after discovering the San Sebastian Mines are worthless. Dagny Taggart decides to meet with Francisco d'Anconia, whose confidence, ability, and ambition inspired and excited her during their childhood friendship. Francisco once told her, "There's nothing of any importance in life—except how well you do your work."

Dagny and Francisco were teenage lovers. Francisco studied at Patrick Henry University before taking over d'Anconia Copper; after this, Francisco did not visit for three years. The next time Dagny saw him, he looked bitter and tortured. He came to New York to see a friend and begged Dagny, "Help me to remain. To refuse. Even though he's right!" Without explanation, Francisco warned Dagny his actions would hurt her but he would have a reason for such behavior. Soon after, he attained a reputation as a playboy. For 10 years Dagny has wondered why Francisco changed.

Now Dagny accuses Francisco of intentionally swindling the San Sebastian Mine's stockholders. He replies his stockholders, ignorant about copper mining, invested because they trusted in d'Anconia to make them a profit. Francisco, amused by the outrage, hints his goal was not profit. When Dagny urges Francisco to fight the looters, he replies he is fighting her. He lost some money on the mines, but Taggart Transcontinental took a loss it won't recover from. Next he intends to target Wyatt Oil. When Dagny asks why, he replies, "Who is John Galt?"


Dagny Taggart once found a peer in Francisco d'Anconia. They each have a heroic ancestor who established businesses they now run; even in childhood, they shared a moral code that valued skill and work. It seemed they would continue along parallel paths into adulthood, but Francisco underwent some sort of internal crisis and began living according to very different values. When Dagny lost Francisco, she lost the relationship she most valued.

Now, 10 years later, she asks him why he made this choice. She dismisses his answer, "Who is John Galt?" as meaningless, although the reader must consider whether this is true. Is it possible John Galt is a real person of Francisco's acquaintance, not just a figure of speech? Is John Galt the friend Francisco visited in New York 10 years earlier, who convinced him he must abandon and destroy what he loves?

Francisco is amused the People's State of Mexico is indignant because the property they stole from him is worthless—as if they were entitled to steal something valuable from him. Francisco knew the mines were worthless, knew socialist Mexico would seize them, and knew the financial loss would be a death blow for Taggart Transcontinental. His enemy is not the looters, whom he once condemned; he is fighting Dagny, whom he once loved. The reader must wonder what good Francisco expects to come from destroying Dagny Taggart and her railroad.

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