Atlas Shrugged By Ayn Rand Summary and Analysis Part 2: Chapter 8 - By Our Love

Summary

Francisco pays a surprise visit to Dagny's lodge in the mountains. During their conversation, she realizes something that she'd never guessed about him: He's one of the producers who deliberately withdrew his talents from the world. He was one of the earliest people to do so, although he didn't disappear like the others. Francisco tells Dagny that he's been systematically and slowly (to avoid being suspected and stopped) destroying d'Anconia Copper so the looters are left with nothing. He also makes it clear that he still loves Dagny and that she was the hardest thing for him to give up when he made his decision years ago. He urges her to leave the railroad to the looters, because without her it's useless anyway. He pleads with her not to give the looters her mind. But as they talk, the radio broadcasts news of the Taggart Tunnel disaster, and Dagny instinctively races to her car.

Having returned to her office, Dagny restores transcontinental rail traffic by rerouting trains onto the tracks of other rail companies. She makes plans for Taggart Transcontinental to lay its own track around the wreck. She calls Rearden to order new rails. She admits to him that she realizes the looters take advantage of her love for her work and Rearden's love for his. The looters know that people like Dagny and Rearden can't imagine abandoning their work.

Analysis

Part of the mystery at the heart of this story begins to become clear in this chapter. Francisco reveals that he hasn't degenerated into the worthless playboy Dagny had assumed. Instead, he's remained true to the code of production, freedom, and life — in opposition to the code of parasitism, dictatorship, and death — by withdrawing his mind and his products from the looters' world. He refuses to prop up their regime, and he urges Dagny to do the same. The looters depend on minds such as Dagny's. Francisco argues that the producers must not give the looters the benefit of their brains. Without the support of creative minds, the looters' regime will collapse because of its own irrationality. Only then will the rational men be free to rebuild the world. This is the battle that Francisco wages, and he urges Dagny to join.

Dagny's immediate flight back to the railroad upon hearing news of the disaster shows that she's not ready to join Francisco's battle. She is still tied to her love of the railroad. Unlike Francisco, Ellis Wyatt, Andrew Stockton, Ken Danagger, and all the others, Dagny isn't ready to walk away from the thing that's given meaning to her life. Her words to Rearden (that form the chapter's title) contain the essence of the bond Dagny feels to the railroad and Rearden feels to his mills. For the sake of their love, the great producers are willing to endure the torture imposed on them by the dictators in Washington.

Ayn Rand emphasizes here that industrial production is just as creative as writing a novel or composing a symphony. Industrial production is also fueled by love — love for the creation of material abundance and the positive, constructive act of making possible man's life on earth. Such love isn't to be relinquished lightly, which is why Francisco experienced such torment when he chose to leave and is also why Dagny can't yet join him.

Dagny and Rearden have learned that the collapse of the world's economy isn't caused by random factors or solely by the irrationality of the looters' code. The thinkers have systematically withdrawn their minds from the world, hastening the collapse of the looters' regime. Seemingly notorious figures like Francisco d'Anconia and Ragnar Dannejsköld are, in their own ways, fighting the evil that's currently in power. The tempo of the resistance quickens as each great mind walks away from the world. At this point, it begins to look as if the great minds have a chance to defeat the irrational forces in power. But if the thinkers succeed, what will victory cost Dagny's railroad and Rearden's mills?

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