Summary and Analysis
Part 2: Chapter 9
The same evening, Francisco comes to Dagny's apartment in one last effort to convince her to quit the railroad. But Dagny responds that if Taggart Transcontinental is to perish with the looters' system, then she will perish with it. Rearden enters and is furious to see Francisco, whom he believes is guilty of the worst kind of betrayal. Francisco is stunned to find that the woman he loves is sleeping with Rearden. When Rearden realizes that Dagny is the woman Francisco loves, he slaps him. Francisco, calling on the greatest self-control possible, refrains from retaliating. He departs.
Dagny receives a letter from Quentin Daniels informing her that he is resigning. He still wants to solve the secret of the motor, so he will continue to work on rebuilding it privately. But if he succeeds, he will not release the motor for commercial purposes in the looters' world, so he will not accept her money any longer. Dagny, desperate to reach Quentin before the destroyer does, calls him and makes him promise to wait for her. She will take the Comet west to examine the track in Colorado and to speak with Daniels in Utah.
Eddie Willers, in Dagny's apartment taking notes before her departure, observes Rearden's dressing gown in her closet and realizes that they are lovers. Eddie is shaken. After seeing her off, he eats dinner with the worker in the Taggart cafeteria. He remarks to the worker that his face looks as though he's never known pain or fear or guilt. Eddie tells him that Daniels has worked on the motor for a year and that Dagny is going to Utah to prevent the destroyer from getting him. Eddie also reveals that Dagny is Rearden's lover, and the worker rushes away.
When Dagny refuses to withdraw her mind from the looters' world, Francisco makes clear to her that they are enemies and that she is never to ask him for money or help for her railroad. He feels certain that without her and Rearden, the looters cannot survive. Ironically, Dagny is propping up the system the thinkers despise; she is Francisco's most dangerous adversary. Although he still loves her, he must find a way to defeat her.
The possibility that Quentin Daniels might give up his work on the motor is intolerable to Dagny. She needs to know that somewhere in the world the human mind still moves forward. If any hope exists for the future, the great achievements of man's mind cannot be abandoned on a scrap heap. Otherwise, all that remains are the looters and the devastation wrought by their policies. Dagny needs one bright spot related to her work to serve as fuel, as motivation, as some quiet knowledge that the human mind still works toward progress. At a literal level, Dagny's quest to reconstruct the motor is an attempt to develop a specific invention of enormous life-giving power. But the quest is also a symbol of an unbreakable commitment to the mind's power to create life and a refusal to surrender this power to the encroaching Dark Age. Dagny, who worships the highest achievements of man's mind and who has suffered as, one by one, the great thinkers abandoned the country, recognizes that Daniels' work is the mind's last stand in the world. She will defend it until her final breath.
In the course of several hours of one evening, three men discover that Dagny is Rearden's lover. First is Francisco, who has made it clear that, despite his playboy image, he has loved only one woman. Second is Eddie, who has never permitted himself to acknowledge his full feelings for Dagny. Third is the unidentified Taggart worker, who has no discernible connection to Dagny. Francisco, though he hopes to win Dagny again after the looters' world collapses, quietly accepts her relationship with Rearden. Eddie, her childhood friend, is confronted with a painful self-discovery: She means much more to him than a close friend and a respected boss. But the reaction of the Taggart worker seems inexplicable. "What's the matter with you?" Eddie cries on observing the worker's response to his news.
This chapter raises many more questions that deepen the mystery Rand is creating. Why does this Taggart track-hand rush off in distress after hearing that Dagny is sleeping with Hank Rearden? Why does this worker, amid all the noble characters in this book, have a face that Eddie describes as never having experienced pain or fear or guilt? Who is this man that Eddie trusts and to whom he confides the railroad's most important information? Is it merely coincidence that Eddie identifies to him the men whom Dagny considers indispensable to the survival of American industrial civilization, and those men retire and disappear shortly after? Why does he ceaselessly pump Eddie for information regarding the railroad but never divulge anything about himself?
The mystery of the disappearing thinkers begins to center on this unnamed man, though neither Dagny nor Eddie is aware of it yet. In this scene, the worker learns that Quentin Daniels has been rebuilding the motor and that Dagny is desperate to save him from the destroyer. It will take Dagny almost a week to reach Utah. We will soon learn whether her fears of the destroyer are justified.
Atlantis the legendary island or continent supposed to have existed in the Atlantic west of Gibraltar and to have sunk into the ocean. Here, used to describe the decline of New York City and of American civilization in general. Atlantis is a symbol of the shining ideal that, inexplicably, mankind has lost.