OF THE BABY NAME ATLAS
Ellis Wyatt is a larger than life character in Ayn Rand’s 1957 novel, Atlas Shrugged, which is saying something in a book teeming with super-heroes. He is one of the original strikers to get behind John Galt’s banner of individualism against the state-sanctioned collectivism of his society. Ellis is a highly intelligent oil industrialist and engineer who sets fire to his own fields rather than succumb to the restrictions of the state. He is passionate about John Galt’s cause, and throws his entire person into it. It is he who so forcefully introduces the protagonist, Dagny Taggart, to their unconventional rebellion, and it is Ellis Wyatt who provides the book with its enduring symbol of freedom, Wyatt’s Torch.
Hank Rearden is the male protagonist of Ayn Rand’s 1957 novel of individualism and objectivism, Atlas Shrugged. Hank is an impossibly good, self-made man. He is innovative and risk-taking, strong and independent. He is the antithesis of the sorry creatures who expect to live off of the labor and earnings of the creators in society, a group who are subsidized by a proletarian government. Somehow, Hank is surrounded by such people, as represented by his wife, his mother and his younger brother. Only when he meets Dagny Taggart and, finally, John Galt, does he come to find the soul’s kinship that only such exalted beings may enjoy. In spite of all this, Hank truly is likeable. His devotion to the honest pride he finds in his labors, as well as his struggle to reconcile his obligations with his conscience, make him very appealing and somehow comfortable to us. He is one of us (whether or not Ms. Rand intended him to be).
William Hastings is an “offstage” character in Ayn Rand’s novel, Atlas Shrugged, first published in the United States in 1957. He has died before the period the novel begins, but his influence is felt throughout. We hear about him mainly through his widow, who describes him as a good and sincere man. William Hastings was a design engineer at the Twentieth Century Motor Company, but quits the company after its founder dies and his children take over, instituting a Marxian model for the company – “from each, according to his ability, to each, according to his need”. He had been John Galt’s boss and was invited by Galt to join the great strike he organized. William takes a good year to decide whether or not to join the strike, concerned over the potential harm to his wife it might entail. When he does, it is not long before he dies of a heart ailment. In a novel full of larger-than-life characters who spout philosophical declarations at every turn, William is a refreshingly unassuming person who follows his moral code through to the end.
Richard Halley is a rather minor character in Ayn Rand’s 1957 novel, Atlas Shrugged , but a fairly important piece of the big picture. The book was her own avowed favorite of her fiction, and Richard Halley represents the lofty ideal of the utopian combination of art and creation and work, as expounded by the individual in a world grown increasingly dystopian through its enslavement to governmental socialism. Richard is the protagonist’s (Dagny Taggart) favorite composer. He has written four concerti, and just as he finally achieves astounding success, he disappears. Where is he, and is it possible this new piece of music is truly his Fifth Concerto? These questions are part of the many questions in the book. It is a mystery of sorts, a science fiction of sorts, and a paean to self-interest and creative individualism, which is embodied by Richard Halley, among others.
Lillian Rearden is the beautiful but unsupportive wife of Hank Rearden in Ayn Rand’s 1957 novel, “Atlas Shrugged.” Throughout the novel, Lillian seeks to destroy her husband and is quite honest about her motivations. She operates under the belief that such destruction will serve to highlight her own value.
Eddie Willers is a character in Ayn Rand’s 1957 novel, Atlas Shrugged. Eddie is a childhood friend of Dagny Taggart – his father and grandfather worked for her family at Taggart Transcontinental, and so does Eddie. His loyalty is unquestioned and unquestioning; he also harbors a secret love for Dagny. Perhaps Eddie’s greatest attraction is the very common stature of his character – he is a good and decent man among superstars – some good, some not so very. Eddie Everyman has our perspective on the world, and wants what we all want – that evil be punished and that good be rewarded. He opens the book and introduces us to the framework within which we will travel and he ends the book, demonstrating what happens to the common man left behind at the denouement of this great mystery. Too late does he realize the real order of things in his crumbling world, and too late also how misplaced his honest and clean loyalties have been. And it appears, at the close of the day, that his ideals and his moral courage will die with him.
John Galt is the iconic hero of Ayn Rand’s 1957 novel, Atlas Shrugged. Coming from a humble background, John Galt’s intelligence and individualistic philosophy aid in his propulsion forward as an inventor. Alas, the society in which he labors is one of collectivism, wherein individual accomplishment is downplayed in favor of the common good. Our John’s not having that, and he sets off to arrange a monumental “creative strike” by all the best minds in the world in an effort to bring this numbing, bureaucratic modus operandi to a halt. After being apprehended and tortured by the government, John Galt is rescued by the protagonist, Dagny Taggart, and the loyalist strikers, whereupon they all convene to build a new society on the ashes of the old. John Galt has recently been given a new surge in popularity by the Tea Party, who carried “Who is John Galt?” signs at many of their events.
Francisco is one of the protagonists in Ayn Rand’s 1957 novel, Atlas Shrugged. The description of him is over the top – he is gorgeous, funny, intelligent, successful, witty, charming and stinking rich. On top of that, he has principles that shame the rest of us: He is willing to sacrifice the source of the family fortunes, d’Anconia Copper, in order to thwart the forces of nihilistic evil. He denounces his love for Dagny Taggart, knowing she is unable to support the strike he is dedicated to. He masks his true intentions in order to further his cause by adopting the persona of a vacuous playboy. He protects and defends Hank Reardon and ultimately saves his life, even though Reardon is with Dagny, the only woman he ever loved. Lest you think all this might set him up for a fall – not to worry. The strike is successful, and he is revealed as his true self for all to admire. In other words, he is an Ayn Rand character.
While Nathaniel is a minor character in Ayn Rand’s controversial 1947 novel of rugged individualism, “Atlas Shrugged,” he is nonetheless the man who gives the main character, Dagny Taggart, her drive and ambition. As the founder of Taggart Transcontinental, Nat Taggart rises from obscure poverty to unequaled and unapologetic rich success. Dagny Taggart struggles with the modern day consequences of her grandfather’s legacy, all the while living life on the terms he bequeathed her through her blood line: “He was a man who had never accepted the creed that others had the right to stop him.”