Atlas Shrugged By Ayn Rand Summary and Analysis Part 3: Chapter 2 - The Utopia of Greed

Summary

Dagny voluntarily works as Galt's cook and housemaid in the valley. The strikers don't always stay in the valley; they often go to the outside world in order to further their cause. But it's now June, and ever since the valley was established 12 years earlier, the strikers have spent this month at the valley to rest and enjoy time with friends. For the past 12 years, Galt has eaten breakfast on June 1st with his two closest friends: Ragnar Danneskjöld and Francisco d'Anconia. Francisco arrives late this year after desperately seeking the wreckage of Dagny's plane in the mountains. He is overjoyed to find her alive.

Francisco accepts that he has lost Dagny, believing that she now loves Hank Rearden. But Dagny realizes that John Galt is the man that she has looked for all her life. However, she knows that because of his strike, she and Galt stand on opposite sides, and she may never have him. Galt also expresses the depth of his feelings for Dagny, saying that when he first saw her he knew that the abandonment of his motor was not the hardest price he would pay for his strike. He loves her, but he can't touch her because she still works within the looters' system.

Galt knows about the past relationship between Francisco and Dagny and understands that Francisco continues to love her. Dagny fears that Galt may veil his own feelings in order to spare his dearest friend any pain, but Galt refuses to do so, because making such a sacrifice for Francisco would violate his code. Galt requires that Dagny spend a full month in the valley while she decides whether to stay with the strikers or leave. Dagny decides to earn her keep by working as Galt's housemaid during that time. Francisco invites Dagny to stay at his house during the last week of her stay. Dagny puts the decision in Galt's hands, and he declines Francisco's invitation on her behalf.

Although she loves Galt and everything for which the valley stands, at the end of the month, Dagny still believes that there is a chance to defeat the looters and save her railroad, so she decides to return to the outside world. She takes an oath not to reveal the existence of the valley to anyone. Although his friends advise him not to, Galt says that he'll return to the outside world as well, so he can watch Dagny and wait for the day when she decides to join the strike. Galt stipulates that Dagny cannot try to find him and cannot know where he works.

Analysis

The strikers' valley represents rational selfishness, the belief that an individual should pursue the life-enhancing values that promote happiness. To marry Dagny would make Galt happy, but he loves Francisco as well and knows of Francisco's feelings for Dagny. Will Galt sacrifice his feelings for Dagny so Francisco can pursue the woman he loves? For Dagny, the question involves far more than a love relationship. The question involves everything for which Galt, his strike, and the valley stand. Galt's actions remain true to the values that give his life meaning; he refuses to relinquish one moment of his private time with Dagny, not granting to Francisco the chance that he himself desires. Galt's integrity is rock solid. He pursues the love on which his happiness depends, no matter what the circumstances.

Dagny thinks that she has a chance to defeat the looters because she still believes they're rational. Dagny believes that the looters want to live and that they're honestly mistaken in their principles and policies. She thinks that they only need to realize that their altruist ethics, dictatorial politics, and socialist economics are leading to collapse. When the looters see their errors, they'll step back and permit rational producers like Rearden and herself to rebuild the economy. For this reason, Dagny believes that she must return to her railroad.

Galt and the strikers, on the other hand, believe that the looters are irrational — that they're viciously driven by the urge to rule men. The strikers think that the looters see the destructive results of their policies but choose to deny the truth. When reality clashes with their desire to rule and prosper, they evade reality rather than question the desire. They want power regardless of the consequences. Therefore, no amount of evidence that proves the devastating results of their policies will motivate them to change. Galt feels certain that Dagny can't win her battle and wants to be near her when she realizes it too. At this point in the story, the reader is not certain whether Dagny and Rearden are right or whether Galt and the strikers know the truth.

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