Favorite and memorable parts of Atlas Shrugged


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What are the most memorable parts for you in the book, that got stuck in your mind, and that you still remember even years after reading the book?

For me it occurs at the very end when they have rescued Galt, and he thanks Rearden, to which Hank replies what Galt taught him, that no thanks is necessary when men act for selfish interests. This concept is so powerful somehow, the idea that selfish men do not owe gratitude to each other, but at the same time... if someone rescues your life, you would feel immense gratitude for them, and want to thank them. Like that is the one person you would want to thank, with all your heart.

Here is the actual text, from the book (they are onboard a plane):

Francisco had produced a first-aid kit and was removing Rearden's shirt to bandage his wound. Galt
saw the thin red trickle running from Rearden's shoulder down his chest.

"Thank you, Hank," he said.

Rearden smiled. "I will repeat what you said when I thanked you, on our first meeting: 'If you understand
that I acted for my own sake, you know that no gratitude is required.' "

"I will repeat," said Galt, "the answer you gave me: 'That is why I thank you.'"

Dagny noticed that they looked at each other as if their glance were the handshake of a bond too firm to
require any statement. Rearden saw her watching them—and the faintest contraction of his eyes was like
a smile of sanction, as if his glance were repeating to her the message he had sent her from the valley.

Of course, my other favorite parts are Galt's speech and Francisco's speech about money. :smile:

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Oh, "Who is John Galt?"

Then there's Dagny crashing her airplane after the dramatic flight into Colorado chasing her villian waking up looking him in the face beginning Part III.

The absolutely best part is the first run of The John Galt Line, the incredible narrative strength combined with pure Americana psychological and productive power capped off with sex written like Hank and Dagny were still on that pulsating train (heading into a tunnel?)


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The absolutely best part is the first run of The John Galt Line, the incredible narrative power.

Al Ruddy said "That's the whole movie right there, Alphonse!" (he liked to call me Alphonse). So, I guess you're right.

My top ten: #1 Willers shocked that Dagny was bedding Rearden. #2 Francisco toasting Dagny and Galt ("But of course.") #3 Stadler going to pieces in Galt's hotel room. #4 Dagny finding the motor. #5 The tunnel disaster ("Give Mr. Chalmers an engine"). #6 Flashback to Francisco and Dagny as teenagers. #7 Cheryl's death. #8 Ferris vs Stadler ("Why Do You Think You Think"). #9 Ferris vs Stadler (Project X). #10 Hugh Akston flipping hamburgers.

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Thanks to Pekka and to all. Very interesting. The following is copied from a post I made in 2010 over at RoR.


The Glory of Man

I first read Atlas Shrugged in fall term of 1967. I was a sophomore at college. During the summer, I had read The Fountainhead, my first exposure to Rand’s fiction and Rand’s ideas. (Page numbers before the semicolon are for the paperback Signet edition of Atlas; those after are for the first edition of the Random House hardback.)

Immediately, I liked:

Dagny (20–25; 12–18)

Rearden (33–38; 26–32)

Francisco (93–112; 94–113)

Galt (652–55; 702–5)

My favorite scenes are four:

1. The First Run of the John Galt Line

“The lights, hanging on a signal bridge against the sky, were green. There were green lights between the tracks, low over the ground, dropping off into the distance where the rails turned and a green light stood at the curve, against leaves of a summer green that looked as it they, too, were lights.” (228; 239)


“She watched the bridge growing to meet them—a small, square tunnel of metal lace work, a few beams criss-crossed through the air, green-blue and glowing, struck by a long ray of sunset light from some crack in the barrier of mountains. . . . She heard the rising, accelerating sound of the wheels—and some theme of music, heard to the rhythm of the wheels, kept tugging at her mind, growing louder. . . .” (236; 247)

2. The Crash into the Valley and the Awakening to Galt in Full Sunlight

“She was back at the wheel, she was speeding down the runway, she was rising into the air, her plane like a bullet aimed at two low sparks of red and green light that were twinkling away into the eastern sky.” (646; 693)


“. . . as if his faculty of sight were his best-loved tool and its exercise were a limitless, joyous adventure, as if his eyes imparted a superlative value to himself and to the world—to himself for his ability to see, to the world for being a place so eagerly worth seeing. . . . as if he, too, were seeing the long-expected and the never-doubted.” (652; 701–2)

3. John and Dagny, Each to Each

“Then she stopped. It was his eyes and hair that she saw first. . . . She saw John Galt among the chain gang of the mindless. . .” (885; 954)


“. . . that nothing more could be desired, ever.” (888; 957)

4. The Deliverance of Rearden

“Silence was his only sensation, as he sat at the wheel of his car, speeding back down the road to Philadelphia. It was the silence of . . .” (916; 987)


“The glare of steel being poured from a furnace shot to the sky beyond the window. A red glow went sweeping slowly over the walls of the office, over the empty desk, over Rearden’s face, as if in salute and farewell.” (927; 999)

My favorite philosophical passage is:

“By the grace of reality and the nature of life, man—every man—is an end in himself, he exists for his own sake, and the achievement of his own happiness is his highest moral purpose.” (941; 1014)

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I like the not commenting on others' choices.

Do you mean in Atlas Shrugged or here?


I liked your old avatar. This one is too friendly.

Here. In AS needs its own thread. It would be kind of interesting for most alternatives would collapse the entire plot structure. The biggest example is Francisco going on strike giving up Dagny. Standard, mythological hero odyssey with the Randian twist about what the heroes do--basically nothing. Talk about the triumph of the passive-aggressive.


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Ragnar on Robin Hood...

“It is said that [Robin Hood] fought against the looting rulers and returned the loot to those who had been robbed, but that is not the meaning of the legend which has survived. He is remembered, not as a champion of property, but as a champion of need, not as a defender of the robbed, but as a provider of the poor. He is held to be the first man who assumed a halo of virtue by practicing charity with wealth which he did not own, by giving away goods which he had not produced, by making others pay for the luxury of his pity. He is the man who became the symbol of the idea that need, not achievement, is the source of rights, that we don’t have to produce, only to want, that the earned does not belong to us, but the unearned does. He became a justification for every mediocrity who, unable to make his own living, has demanded the power to dispose of the property of his betters, by proclaiming his willingness to devote his life to his inferiors at the price of robbing his superiors. It is this foulest of creatures — the double-parasite who lives on the sores of the poor and the blood of the rich — whom men have come to regard as a moral ideal. And this has brought us to a world where the more a man produces, the closer he comes to the loss of all his rights, until, if his ability is great enough, he becomes a rightless creature delivered as prey to any claimant — while in order to be placed above rights, above principles, above morality, placed where anything is permitted to him, even plunder and murder, all a man has to do is be in need. Do you wonder why the world is collapsing around us? That is what I am fighting… Until men learn that of all human symbols, Robin Hood is the most immoral and the most contemptible, there will be no justice on earth and no way for mankind to survive.”

— Ragnar Danneskjöld in Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged, Part II, Chapter VII

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I like the not commenting on others' choices.


not making any proscription

but I feel free to ask questions

Apologies for not commenting on your answers. The fact is that I can't find anything particular to say, other than to say that I enjoy reading your answers. Obviously the book has so many wonderful parts and this discussion is great for refreshing my memory.

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  • 6 years later...

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