Hank Rearden -- a good sport?


Roger Bissell

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For what it's worth, I still think that Dagny was unjustified in throwing aside Hank Rearden for John Galt. Ultimate-schmultimate. Dagny and Hank were friends, comrades, and lovers -- and they had a thoroughly fulfilling relationship. Plus, there was no rift of deception between them like there was between Dagny and Francisco, to ultimately doom their relationship. What was lacking? I don't get it.

Also, I think Rearden took losing her to Galt just a little too magnimously, don't you think? I mean, if he had had a lapse and taken a government contract or had a quickie with Lillian while Dagny was missing, he could well understand and accept Dagny's ditching him. With well-deserved chagrin, even. But what's he supposed to make of her hopping from bed to bed in search of her "ideal man"? Is the good the enemy of the better?

I also wonder if the whole scenario would have played out as well to readers if it had been Hank who cast aside Dagny in search of his "ideal woman." Atlas Shrugged resonates so well with women, in part because of the consciousness-raising of the Feminist movement, championing literary heroines being the ones in charge of the romantic destinies of all concerned, women being the ones who get to upgrade their love lives, while their erstwhile male partners are left holding the bag when they prove to have been "good, even damned good, but still not good enough." Can you imagine how disenfranchised women readers would have felt in reading a male-dominated novel, in which the heroine was treated like a used Kleenex? We have few enough women attendees at Objectivist events as it is. Want to wager how those numbers would differ if Dagny had been the one left in the dust by Hanky-poo?

End of rant. I think that for literary license, Rand can do what she does, but in terms of realistic psychology, casting aside a perfectly good love relationship makes no sense. But I am willing to listen to reason on this. Anyone?

REB

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Roger,

I just saw this and can't resist commenting.

I wrote over in the thread in Writing Techniques, 20 Master Plots, that the plot of Atlas Shrugged is actually a quest plot - Dagny's quest to find out and understand what is destroying the world and her quest to find the ideal man. (She wants to understand so badly because then she can help fix the world and get back to railroading.)

Didn't Rand say that the goal of her art is to portray the ideal man? Isn't it reasonable for her top female character to have the same desire to see one and fall in love with him?

She was after THE BEST, irrespective of who or what. She did not allow for relationships to grow. You might notice that certain emotions were not present in Dagny's life.

I find Atlas Shrugged to be a magnificent book morality-wise, especially story-wise and art-wise, but it comes up short in way too many things psychology-wise. That's OK in literature, I suppose. Still, this book's explanations of human psychology are very limited in many more places than Objectivists like to admit.

Michael

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Thanks, Michael. Everything you say makes sense. The book was really all about Dagny's -- i.e., Rand's -- quest. Once she had said it, what was left in the fictional realm? I think it's clear that she had peaked, and needed to find a new area on which to exercise her great thinking and writing talents. Luckily for all of us, she turned to non-fiction and gave us the Objectivist philosophy.

reb

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I sort of did the same thing Dagny did. I had been living with someone for several years and was pretty happy with the relationship. I never thought I would do such a thing, but once I discoved my ideal man was actually out there, I had to make room in my life for him. And here we are. purrrrrrrrrrrr

Kat

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Roger,

I think it's very simple: it's age. Why would Dagny want to stay with an old man like Hank, when she could have a man her own age? Except for those women who are trying to replace their father, I think women are attracted to older men because of their maturity, experience, confidence, and, in some cases, wealth. Well, Galt had all these qualities, plus youth. What a killer combination.

Just for the record; I'm about the same age you are, Roger, and my wife is 7 years younger than me (and she wasn't trying to replace her father!). So I know what I'm talking about. :D

Thanks,

Glenn

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I agree with Roger, I found this unceremonious switching of lovers by Dagny disturbing. Not that this couldn't happen in real life, but these are supposed to be ideal people and the relation between Dagny and Hank was not some inconsequential flirt or one-night stand. I found it especially grating as I liked Rearden and couldn't stand that Galt, why should he get the big prize? And I never could understand why Rearden was hardly disturbed by this lack of loyalty and found it in fact quite normal that she left him for a "still more ideal" man. Perhaps it might have been understandable if he hadn't been really involved, but that was clearly not the case. Psychologically it just doesn't make sense.

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Hey, Glenn -- how much older than Dagny and Galt do you think Rearden was, anyway?! My impression is that he was only about 8 years older than Dagny. Is that enough to push him into the "older man" category?? More importantly, he wasn't "old." He was in his 40s, and Dagny was in her 30s. More like older brother/younger sister than father/daughter!

And thanks, Dragonfly. We are on the same wavelength! :-)

REB

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Ciro, you are a master chef. You should appreciate this one!

How do you make an open-faced Atlas Shrugged sandwich?

You put a slice of Dagny on top of a slice of John Galt, and you throw away the Rearden.

(I know, Kat, I'm besmirching our little haven here. I'll stop now. :-)

reb

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:D six points, but don't quit your day job yet. Ciro's joke about storing wine in Reardon Metal was better.

Anyway I still contend Dagny got it right and Dominique got it wrong. Dagny bonked the heroes (go Dagny!!) and Dominique did the villains (whore!!) before finally getting the hero she knew she had wanted all along. Dagny was a strong woman who knew what she wanted and went for it with all she had. I think Hank understood that about her and it was something that helped him get through the heartbreak. If Dagny and Hank were married, I would not see her leaving him for John Galt. But Hank stayed married through their affair and I think that shows a lack of commitment to Dagny. If he loved her, he would have dumped Lillian in a heartbeat to be with her, but instead he kept her as the other woman. He did not let her in and she did not let him in either. I doubt they would have worked out as a couple for the long term.

Kat

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You're right, Kat, Rearden didn't divorce Lillian! And he sure should have! That just goes to show you, rectitude ain't always right! And maybe you're right that they wouldn't have worked out in the long run. I feel a little better now about the way things turned out. But only a little. <sigh>

reb

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Roger,

I was using "old" in a relative way. I definitely don't think 40 is old! I'm curious why you think Hank was eight years older than Dagny. From AS, p. 26:

Rearden Steel had been the chief supplier of Taggart Transcontinental for ten years, ever since the first Rearden furnace was fired, in the days when their father was president of the railroad.

So, if Dagny is 30, then ten years earlier she was 20 and Rearden was already starting a steel mill. I don't know how old he was supposed to be then, but 28 seems pretty young to be starting your own steel mill.

Thanks,

Glenn

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I see by the Atlas Shrugged Chronology (google it) that Hank was 11 years older than Dagny (not 9). Still way within any reasonable romantic ball park. :-) I think she was 34 when they met and he was 45.

reb

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When you have a young wife, all you have to do is to eat more spinach, and to keep her pregnant that's all.

If you are an objectivist, and have a young wife, just screw up her mind, make her stupid, tell her that you are John Galt and she is Dagny.

And when you feel like beating her up,

have some rough sex. lolololololol

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Ciro-

Figuring out what to do with a young wife is easy; tell us how to teach those old dogs new tricks, and you will have accomplished something! ;)

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Jody, older women love to be called bitches, they definitly love dirty language!!

lololololololol

You have to surprise her, shock her.

If you don't have the courage to tell her, write her a note, tell her what you want, and when you make love to her be on top, they don't like to be on top. If they are over 45 don't turn that damn light on!!!

Remember to use a blow drier to make you genital part as hot as possible before you go to bad.

Older woman hate the cold. Tell her how horny you friend’s wife is because her husband is weak and tired because he works all the time, or because his wife doesn’t know that he is half gay.

I wonder what Barbara or kat would think of me #-o for writing this post!!

Dr Ciruth.

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