Chris Grieb Posted December 2, 2009 Share Posted December 2, 2009 One of the things that amuses me about AS is that closing scene. After a thousand pages exalting reason and expounding her philosophy, Rand chose to end the book with a magical ritual.The dollar sign is a form of the staff of Hermes/Mercury. Making that ritual sign was nothing more nor less than invoking the God of Commerce and Communication(and who would have been a better member of the pantheon?)upon Galt's Gulch in a fairly brief but standard magical ceremony.Jeffrey S.Let's examine that closing scene in the context defined by the book itself. Recall in the chapter "The Sign of the Dollar" (Owen Kellogg speaking)"The dollar sign? For a great deal. It stands on the vest of every fat, piglike figure in every cartoon, for the purpose of denoting a crook, a grafter, a scoundrel—as the one sure-fire brand of evil. It stands—as the money of a free country—for achievement, for success, for ability, for man's creative power—and, precisely for these reasons, it is used as a brand of infamy. It stands stamped on the forehead of a man like Hank Rearden, as a mark of damnation. Incidentally, do you know where that sign comes from? It stands for the initials of the United States."He snapped the flashlight off, but he did not move to go; she could distinguish the hint of his bitter smile."Do you know that the United States is the only country in history that has ever used its own monogram as a symbol of depravity? Ask yourself why. Ask yourself how long a country that did that could hope to exist, and whose moral standards have destroyed it. It was the only country in history where wealth was not acquired by looting, but by production, not by force, but by trade, the only country whose money was the symbol of man's right to his own mind, to his work, to his life, to his happiness, to himself. If this is evil, by the present standards of the world, if this is the reason for damning us, then we—we, the dollar chasers and makers—accept it and choose to be damned by that world. We choose to wear the sign of the dollar on our foreheads, proudly, as our badge of nobility—the badge we are willing to live for and, if need be, to die."Reading that, plus the obvious allusion to "sign of the cross", and it seems to me that Rand is simultaneously:1) Reaffirming her rejection of religious/mystical groudings2) Reaffirming her basic allegiance to the original foundations of the USABill PBill P; I think you understand the last scene correctly.I must add a personal note that in 1958 I spent several weeks at Lettermen Army Hospital with a dislocated elbow. While a lady who visited showed me that a dollar sign was a way of writing US. I have often wondered if she had read Atlas. Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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