I’m finally moving steady but sure through the pages of Atlas Shrugged. It took me an extra week or two, but I have now managed to get into the groove and begin the journey to discover the truth behind John Galt. As indicated by the post title, I’ve finished the first four chapters and I feel that at this point I’ve been introduced to most (if not all) the main characters of the story. These first few chapters have been setting the stage for me, getting me acquainted with the lay of the land and preparing me for the excitement to follow.
At this point I’ve met four characters I feel will be extremely significant the deeper I go into the book. Dagny Taggart, James Taggart, Eddie Willers, and Henry “Hank” Rearden. There have also been a handful of minor characters such as Hank Rearden’s wife, Lillian and Wesley Mouch, but nothing has really come of them so far other than they have been introduced.
Eddie Willers is the executive assistant to Dagny Taggart and I feel like there is an air of mystery about him to some degree. He’s been portrayed to this point as having lots of opinions, but also as being very careful about voicing those opinions unless he feels he’s very safe. For example, the unnamed, but rather suspicious in my mind, Taggart Transcontinental employee with whom he dines on occasion. Something about that entire situation seems like it will be of import later on. I like Eddie, he seems like he will be one of the good guys in this story.
James Taggart on the other hand is a tool. He’s lazy, easily manipulated, and a complete fool. He’s already been made to look like an idiot on several occasions in the first four chapters and I’m sure it’s going to continue to happen. Especially now that he’s floundering after the nationalization of his Mexican rail line. I definitely don’t like James, not one bit.
Dagny Taggart is my favorite thus far. I like how no-nonsense she is, and how she is obsessed with making Taggart Transcontinental the absolute shining star of railroads despite all of the things being thrown in front of her. She clearly has a leash on her brother James, but is content to let him hang himself. I find that amusing. Even this early in the book its pretty clear she’s going to get in to some sort of mischief with Hank Rearden, but I’m just not entirely sure what it will be yet.
Regardless, Dagny has the makings of being a character I can really get behind so far. Her portions of the story have been the most exciting to read to this point.
Lastly, Hank Rearden. He’s basically the male counterpart of Dagny from what I can tell. He’s just as ambitious, just as ruthless, and just as eager to show everyone else that nothing they say or do is going to stop him if he doesn’t feel like letting it. I’m going to like him I think. His family is a bunch of trouble though, I’m sure of it.
At this point in the story the main characters have been introduced, Taggart Transcontinental is on the brink of collapse, and Dagny is desperately trying to get the Rio Norte rail line retrofitted with Rearden Metal; a highly controversial idea apparently. James has been duped into thinking he was going to make the company a fortune by building a rail line down into Mexico, and has just learned that the line has been nationalized. Only the quick thinking of Dagny prevented the loss of the line from being catastrophic, but he somehow managed to lay claim to the credit for that decision anyways.
I want to see more of Dagny, less of James and his political henchmen/cronies. Obviously James and his crew are going to be of some importance, but right now, this early on I want to see what kind of cool things Dagny and Hank can do. Of course, I also have no idea who John Galt is, but it is only chapter four after all.
My suspicion is that the unnamed man Eddie dines with might either be John Galt, or be associated with him in some fashion, but I’ll have to keep reading to find out.