Literature Study GuidesAtlas ShruggedPart 3 Chapter 10 Summary

Atlas Shrugged | Study Guide

Ayn Rand

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Atlas Shrugged | Part 3, Chapter 10 : A Is A (In the Name of the Best Within Us) | Summary

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Summary

Dagny Taggart, Hank Rearden, Francisco d'Anconia, and Ragnar Danneskjöld arrive at Project X. They dispose of the guards; Rearden is shot in the shoulder during a confrontation. In the torture room, Dagny kneels by John Galt's side; he says, "We never had to take any of it seriously, did we?" Ragnar Danneskjöld destroys the torture machine and pilots them away in Francisco's airplane. Galt thanks Rearden; Dagny understands that Rearden blesses her relationship with Galt. Danneskjöld says this was his "last act of violence"; now he can be a philosopher. From the plane window they see the lights of New York go out. Dagny recalls Francisco claimed Galt said their job would be done when this happens. For the first time, she feels she is "following [Nathaniel Taggart] in full loyalty" with a "continent to build." When they land and Hugh Akston asks Galt if he's okay, Galt replies, "Of course ... I had to be. A is A."

With enormous difficulty, Eddie Willers has reestablished transcontinental service and is on the Comet to New York when it breaks down in Arizona. He questions why he worked so hard when his efforts have come to this. The electrical engineer, unable to fix the train, asks, "What's the use, Mr. Willers?" Willers keeps insisting, "We can't let it go!" The passengers and crew disembark and catch rides with a passing convoy of covered wagons. A wagon driver tells Willers the Taggart Bridge is gone. Willers, refusing to leave the train, collapses in tears in front of the engine.

It is early spring; all the valley's residents are absorbed in their plans for rebuilding society. Judge Narragansett removes the contradictions from the Constitution, adding a clause protecting "the freedom of production and trade." High atop a mountain, Dagny Taggart and John Galt gaze "at the darkness of the world beyond" the valley. They know Wyatt's Torch is out there, "calling and waiting for the words" Galt now speaks: "The road is cleared ... We are going back to the world." He traces a dollar sign in the air.

Analysis

Eddie Willers, like Cherryl Brooks and Wet Nurse, is a tragic victim. He is devoted to the railroad because he is devoted to Dagny Taggart; for years he saw them as inseparable, and this error led him to hide his love. The railroad is all he has left of anything he loved; he refuses to leave the dead locomotive, even when, absurdly, a man in a covered wagon offers him a ride. For his dedication, he reaps despair; it is likely he will end up sacrificing himself, as he will die in the desert, weeping by the train's corpse.

Hank Rearden is wounded as he works to save Galt's life, just as he saved Francisco d'Anconia's and Ragnar Danneskjöld's. When Galt thanks him, Dagny sees on Rearden's face "a smile of sanction." He approves of their relationship, and the two men cement their friendship.

All that remains of their world is Wyatt's Torch—the outward manifestation of the flame burning within all the heroes. They cannot see it, but they know it's there. The final image is Galt and Dagny standing high atop a mountain. They are saved and exalted. Galt blesses the world with a dollar sign, as holy to them as the cross to Christians.

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