List of characters in Atlas Shrugged

List of characters in Atlas Shrugged

This is a list of characters in Ayn Rand's novel, "Atlas Shrugged."

Balph Eubank

Called "the literary leader of the age", despite the fact that he is incapable of writing anything that people actually want to read. What people "want" to read, he says, is irrelevant. He complains that it is disgraceful that artists are treated as peddlers, and that there should be a law limiting the sales of books to ten thousand copies. He is a member of the "Looters". Balph Eubank appears in section 161.

Ben Nealy

A railroad contractor whom "Dagny Taggart" hires to replace the track on the Rio Norte Line with Rearden Metal. Nealy is incompetent, but Dagny can find no one better in all the country. Nealy believes that anything can get done with enough muscle power. He sees no role for intelligence in human achievement, and this is manifest in his inability to organize the project and to make decisions. He relies on Dagny and "Ellis Wyatt" to run things, and resents them for doing it, because it appears to him like they are just bossing people around. Ben Nealy appears in section 171.

Bertram Scudder

Editorial writer for the magazine "The Future". He typically bashes business and businessmen, but he never says anything specific in his articles, relying on innuendo, sneers, and denunciation. He wrote a hatchet job on "Hank Rearden" called "The Octopus". He is also vocal in support of the Equalization of Opportunity Bill. Later on he has a radio interview program, in which Dagny Taggart is forced to appear by the threat of revelation of her relationship with Rearden - but she turns the tables by herself revealing the relationship, taking pride in it and denouncing the regime. In the aftermath, Scudder is made the scapegoat and loses his job. Bertram Scudder appears in section 161.

Science Fiction writer Robert Heinlein also used the family name "Scudder" for a despicable villain (in this case, Nehemiah Scudder, a backwoods preacher who becomes a theocratic dictator of The United States) in the story "If This Goes On—". It was published in 1953 - four years before "Atlas Shrugged" - but there is no evidence of a direct influence between the two.

Betty Pope

A wealthy socialite who is having a meaningless sexual affair with "James Taggart" that coincides with the overall meaninglessness of her life. She regrets having to wake up every morning because she has to face another empty day. She is deliberately crude in a way that casts ridicule on her high social position. Betty Pope appears in sections 142 and 161.


An unnamed employee working on the Taggart Comet train. "Dagny Taggart" hears Brakeman whistling the theme of a concerto. When she asks him what piece it is from, he says it is Halley's Fifth Concerto. When Dagny points out that "Richard Halley" only wrote four concertos, Brakeman claims he made a mistake and that he does not recall where he heard the piece.

Later, after Dagny instructs the train crew how to proceed, he asks a co-worker who she is, and learns she is the one who runs Taggart Transcontinental.

It is later discovered that the unknown brakeman is one of the strikers, when Dagny finds him working in Galt's Gulch as an employee of Ellis Wyatt and an apprentice to Richard Halley. Brakeman appears in sections 112 and 113.

Cherryl Brooks

Dime store shopgirl who marries James Taggart after a chance encounter in her store the night the John Galt Line was deemed his greatest success. She marries him thinking he is the heroic person behind Taggart Transcontinental. She is horrible to Dagny until the night before she commits suicide, when she confesses to Dagny that when she married Jim, she thought he had all of the Taggart family's positive traits - she thought she was marrying someone like Dagny. Like Eddie Willers, Cherryl is one representation of a "good" person who lacks the extraordinary capacities of the primary heroes of the novel.

Claude Slagenhop

The president of political organization Friends of Global Progress (which is supported by "Philip Rearden"), and one of "Lillian Rearden's" friends. He believes that ideas are just air, that this is no time for talk, but for action. He is not bothered by the fact that action unguided by ideas is random and pointless. Global Progress is a sponsor of the Equalization of Opportunity Bill. Claude Slagenhop appears in section 161.

Cuffy Meigs

A thuggish personage who's assigned by Wesley Mouch to keep watch over the workings of Taggart Transcontinental, and later assumes control over the company after Dagny Taggart leaves. He carries a pistol and a lucky rabbit's foot, and he dresses in a military uniform. The "spiritual heir" of Dr. Robert Stadler, Meigs comes to a fitting end at the hands of "Project X." His role is to act as the frankly brutal face of the regime, which frightens and disgusts more hypocritical people. Though of a different profession, he is similar to the architect Gus Webb in The Fountainhead, who similarly behaves in a crude and brutal manner and frightens more hypocritical architects. Both characters become prominent in the later part of their respective books, with Webb becoming Ellsworth Toohey's favorite in place of Keating when Toohey feels less need to keep a mask, while Meigs comes to prominence when the regime finds it impossible to continue with more subtle and seemingly civilized methods.

Dagny Taggart

Dagny Taggart is the protagonist of the novel, and, in general, it is Dagny's perception of the battle between John Galt and the Looters that is the readers'. She holds the title of 'Operating Vice-President in Charge of Operations' of Taggart Transcontinental, under her brother, James Taggart. However, due to James' incompetence, it is Dagny that is actually responsible for all the workings of the railroad.

Taggart has romantic relationships with three men of ability: Francisco d'Anconia, Hank Rearden, and John Galt. Ultimately, she ends up with Galt, on account of the superiority of his talents and qualities. Nonetheless, she remains on good terms with the other two, despite ending her sexual relationships with them.

Dagny personifies the typical struggle within many capitalists: when to stop trying to change the social policies that impinge on capitalist goals. Hers is the most unusual perspective in the book, as she has one foot in each camp. She tries to "fix" the social policies of the government while still maintaining her belief in free enterprise. The ultimate lesson taught through Dagny is that reason cannot triumph over unreason until the unreasonable perish.

She is a typical Randian heroine, similar to Dominique Francon ("The Fountainhead") or Kira Argounova ("We the Living").

Dagny appears in sections 112, 113, 114, 132, 133, 141, 145, 146, 147, 148, 151, 152, and 161.

Dan Conway

The middle-aged president of the Phoenix-Durango railroad. Running a railroad is just about the only thing he knows. When the Anti-dog-eat-dog Rule is used to drive his business out of , he loses the will to fight, and resigns himself to a quiet life of books and fishing. He claims that somebody had to be sacrificed, it turned out to be him, and he has no right to complain, bowing to the will of the majority. When pressed he says he does not really believe this is right, but he cannot understand why it is wrong and what the alternative might be. He is trapped by a moral code that makes him a willing victim, and rather than challenge that morality, he simply gives up. Still, it is never clearly explained why he was never made part of Galt's "strike" (his private act of dropping out and living in retirement is quite in tune with it) and why he was never invited to the hidden valley where he would have fit right in. Dan Conway appears in sections 145 and 146, and is mentioned in section 148.

The dialogue between Dan Conway and Dagny Taggart, with her urging Conway to fight the unjust decision taken against him and Conway refusing, is reminiscent of Plato's famous dialogue "Crito", where Crito of Alopece in vain urges the philosopher Socrates to flee the death punishment unjustly imposed on him. Socrates' basic argument - that he has obliged himself to abide by the laws of Athens, and must go on doing so even when the laws are unjust - is essentially the same as that offered by Conway who feels honour bound to abide by the rulings of the National Alliance of Railroads. Conway - who "seldom read books and never went to college" - would not be familiar with the philosophy of Socrates, but Rand certainty was. The comparison shows Rand taking the opposite view to that of Socrates - which is unsurprising, given that Socrates' position in the dialogue was in fact that of Plato, and Rand deeply loathed Plato and regarded him as the spiritual ancestor of Ellsworth Toohey.

Dick McNamara

A contractor who finished the San Sebastian Line and who is hired to lay the new Rearden Metal track for the Rio Norte Line. Before he gets a chance to do so, he mysteriously disappears. Dick McNamara is mentioned in sections 133 and 141.

Eddie Willers

Special Assistant to the Vice-President in Charge of Operations at Taggart Transcontinental. He grew up with "Dagny Taggart". His father and grandfather worked for the Taggarts, and he followed in their footsteps. He is completely loyal to Dagny and to Taggart Transcontinental. He is also secretly in love with Dagny. Willers is generally assumed to represent the common man: someone who does not possess the promethian creative ability of The Strikers, but nevertheless matches them in moral courage and is capable of appreciating and making use of their creations. He sticks it out with the railway to the bitter end, even when the old world is obviously collapsing and Dagny has shifted her attention and loyalty to saving the captive Galt. In the end, he stays with a broken-down train in the middle of the desert, like a captain going down with his ship. It is unclear whether or not the strikers or anyone else will return to save him. Eddie Willers appears in sections 111, 114, 117, 132, 133, 141, 151, and 152.

Ellis Wyatt

The head of Wyatt Oil. He has almost single-handedly revived the economy of by discovering oil there. He is quick-tempered, more bound to violent outbursts than other characters. When first introduced, he is aggressive towards Dagny, whom he does not yet know and whom he blames for what are in fact her brother's policies which directly threaten his business. Of all the disappearances of industrialists in the novel, Wyatt's is surely the most dramatic: when the government passes laws and decrees which make it impossible for him to continue, he does not just go quietly away but sets all his oil wells on fire, leaving a jeering note: "I am leaving it as I found it. Take over. It's yours." Without his expertise, the State Science Institute is unable to bring those wells back into production. One particular oil well that he set aflame, became known as Wyatt's Torch, which serves as an emblem for the cause of the Strikers, as well as a major symbol of the book. It is sometimes used for posters of the book, as well as book covers for some editions.

Later, when Dagny meets him in the hidden valley where his energies are not encountering futile daily obstructions, there is little of that violence to be seen. Ellis Wyatt is mentioned or appears in sections 111, 114, 132, 146, 147, 148, and 152.

Francisco d'Anconia

One of the central characters in Atlas Shrugged. Owner by inheritance of the world's largest copper mining empire, the man behind the San Sebastián Mines, and a childhood friend and first love of "Dagny Taggart".

Francisco began working on the sly as a teenager in order to learn all he could about business. While still a student at Patrick Henry University, a classmate of John Galt and Ragnar Danneskjöld and student of both Hugh Akston and Robert Stadler, he began working at a copper foundry, and investing in the stock market. By the time he was twenty he had made enough to purchase the foundry. He began working for d'Anconia Copper as assistant superintendent of a mine in Montana, but was quickly promoted to head of the New York office. In this way he proved that, though unlike other charcters he was born to wealth and power, he could have made a successful career all by himself. He took over d'Anconia Copper at age 23, after the death of his father.

When he was 26, Francisco secretly joined the "Strikers" and began to slowly destroy the d'Anconia empire so the "Looters" could not get it. He adopted the persona of a worthless playboy, by which he is known to the world, as an effective cover.

He was the childhood friend of Dagny Taggart and Eddie Willers and later became Dagny's lover. Giving her up - since, knowing her intimately, he knew she would not be ready to join the strikers - was the hardest part for him. He remains deeply in love with her to the end of the book, while also being a good and loyal friend of her other two lovers, John Galt and Hank Rearden.

His full name is Francisco Domingo Carlos Andres Sebastián d'Anconia.

Francisco d'Anconia appears or is mentioned in sections 132, 141, 144, 151, and 152 - this last section includes a detailed history of his life.

Fred Kinnan

Fred Kinnan is a labour leader and member of the looter cabal. Unlike the others, however, Kinnan is straightforward and honest about his purpose. At the meeting to decide on whether to enact Directive 10-289 (giving government sweeping powers over industry) Kinnan is the only one to openly state the true motivations of himself and his fellow conspirators.

At the end of Galt's 3 hour speech, he expresses admiration for the man, as he says what he means. Despite this, Kinnan admits that he is one of the people Galt is out to destroy.

Hank Rearden

One of the central characters in Atlas Shrugged. Like many of Rand's capitalist characters, he is a self-made man who started as an ordinary worker, showed talent, founded Rearden Steel and made it the most important steel company of the US (and one of the most important business companies of any kind). Later, he conceived of and invented the Rearden Metal, a form of metal stronger than steel (it stands to steel as steel stands to ordinary iron).

He is a demanding employer, intolerant of sloppy work, but pays his workers salaries "above any union scale". He arouses a strong feeling of loyalty among the workers, and was never faced with a strike.

He lives in with his wife "Lillian", his brother "Philip", and his elderly mother (whose name never appears in the book), all of whom he supports. Gwen Ives is his secretary.

The character of Hank Rearden has two important roles to play in the novel. First, he is aware that there is something wrong with the world but is unsure of what it is. Rearden is guided toward an understanding of the solution through his friendship with "Francisco d'Anconia", who does know the secret, and by this mechanism the reader is also prepared to understand the secret when it is revealed explicitly in Galt's Speech.

Second, Rearden is used to illustrate Rand's theory of sex. "Lillian Rearden" cannot appreciate Hank Rearden's virtues, and she is portrayed as being disgusted by sex. "Dagny Taggart" clearly does appreciate Rearden's virtues, and this appreciation evolves into a sexual desire. Rearden is torn by a contradiction because he accepts the premises of the traditional view of sex as a lower instinct, while responding sexually to Dagny, who represents his highest values. Rearden struggles to resolve this internal conflict and in doing so illustrates Rand's sexual theory. Rearden appears in sections 121, 132, 147, and 161, and is mentioned in sections 114 and 131.

"Rearden" is a variety of "Riordan", a surname of Irish origin. There are, however, no specific Irish characteristics in the depiction of Hank Rearden, and it is clearly implied that his family had been in America for several generations.

Hugh Akston

Identified as "One of the last great advocates of reason." He was a renowned philosopher and the head of the Department of Philosophy at Patrick Henry University, where he taught "Francisco d'Anconia", "John Galt", and "Ragnar Danneskjöld". He was, along with "Robert Stadler", a father figure to these three. Akston's name is so hallowed that a young lady, on hearing that Francisco had studied under him, is shocked. She thought he must have been one of those great names from an earlier century. He now works as a cook in a roadside diner, and proves extremely skillful at that (Like many of Rand's characters, who feel no reluctance to work at "menial" jobs and do them well). When Dagny tracks him down, and before she discovers his true identity, he rejects her enthusiastic offer to manage the dining car services for Taggart Transcontinental. Hugh Akston is mentioned in section 161.

James Taggart

The President of Taggart Transcontinental, a leader of the "Looters", and the book's most important antagonist. Taggart is an expert influence peddler who is incapable of making decisions on his own. He relies on his sister "Dagny Taggart" to actually run the railroad, but nonetheless opposes her in almost every endeavor. In a sense, he is the antithesis of Dagny.

As the novel progresses, the moral philosophy of the Looters is revealed: it is a code of stagnation. The goal of this code is to not exist, to not move forward, to become a zero. Taggart struggles to remain unaware that this is his goal. He maintains his pretense that he wants to live, and becomes horrified whenever his mind starts to grasp the truth about himself. This contradiction leads to the recurring absurdity of his life: the desire to destroy those on whom his life depends, and the horror that he will succeed at this. In the final chapters of the novel, he suffers a complete mental breakdown upon realizing that he can no longer deceive himself in this respect.

In the introduction to the 35th anniversary edition, (1991), Leonard Peikoff introduced excerpts from Rand's journals concerning the book. Among other things, it is disclosed that as originally conceived James Taggart was religious, regularly going to a priest to confess his sins and ask for absolution. There is no hint of this in the final version as published. Presumably, however, this "asking for absolution" was connected with the above-mentioned hiding of Taggart's real goal from himself.

This also implies that the Taggart Family was originally conceived as being of Roman Catholic background, of which also there is little trace left in the published version. It fits well with the Taggarts' long-standing friendship with the Latin American D'Anconia Family.

James Taggart appears in sections 111, 114, 131, 132, 143, 144, 152 and 161, and is mentioned in sections 146 and 148.

John Galt

The enigmatic John Galt is the male hero of Atlas Shrugged, and typifies the Randian hero. By trade, he is an engineer, and has developed a revolutionary new motor powered by ambient static electricity that has the potential to change the world. However, in disgust at the collectivization forced upon him at his workplace at the Twentieth Century Motor Company, he goes on strike, depriving the world of his invaluable invention.

To increase the impact, he persuades each individual of talent whom he considers to share his own ethical creed, to join him on strike, in a secret and secluded hiding place called Galt's Gulch. Amongst them are Francisco d'Anconia and Ragnar Danneskjöld, with whom he had studied at Patrick Henry University. At first, Dagny Taggart considered Galt to be a destructive force, and grants him the epithet 'the Destroyer'. However, when she is convinced of the futility of her own struggle, and the nobility of Galt's, she falls in love with him.

John Galt's name is enshrined in the question "Who is John Galt?" The phrase is used popularly as an expression of helplessness and despair at the sorry state of the world. The answer is expressed in a range of legends: none of which is entirely true, but all of which reflect an aspect of his achievements and labours.

Lillian Rearden

The wildly unsupportive wife of "Hank Rearden". They have been married eight years as the novel begins.

Lillian is a frigid "Moocher" who seeks to destroy her husband. She compares being Rearden's wife with owning the world's most powerful horse. Since she cannot comfortably ride a horse that goes too fast, she must bridle it down to her level, even if that means it will never reach its full potential and its power will be grievously wasted.

Lillian also serves to illustrate Rand's Theory of sex. Lillian believes sex is a base animal instinct and that sexual indulgence is a sign of moral weakness. She is incapable of feeling this kind of desire, which she believes testifies to her moral superiority. However, according to the theory of sex, Lillian's lack of sexual capacity results from her inability to experience value in herself; she is therefore unable to respond sexually when she experiences value in others.

Lillian tolerates sex with her husband only because she is 'realistic' enough to know he is just a brute who requires satisfaction of his brute instincts. In section 161 she indicates that she abhors "Francisco d'Anconia", because she believes he is a sexual adventurer. Lillian Rearden appears in sections 121 and 161.

The Looters

A group of antagonistic characters sometimes referred to as "James Taggart and his friends". They are similar to the Moochers. The Looters consist of men and women who use force to obtain value from those who produce it. They seek to destroy the producers despite the fact that they are dependent upon them. The Looters include: Mr. Thompson, Balph Eubank, Floyd Ferris, James Taggart, Orren Boyle, Paul Larkin, Robert Stadler, Simon Pritchett, Wesley Mouch, Eugene Lawson, Cuffy Meigs and the Mexican government of the time.

Midas Mulligan

A wealthy banker, whose financial backing had a major share in launching the career of Hank Rearden and other prominent industrialists. He mysteriously disappeared in protest after he was given a court order to loan money to an incompetent applicant. When the order came down, he liquidated his entire business, made sure that all the account holders received every penny due them, and joined Galt's strike. Mulligan's birth name was Michael, but he had it legally changed after a news article called him "Midas" in a derogatory fashion, which Mulligan took as a compliment. Mulligan is responsible for the creation and distribution of the money that is exclusively used in Galt's Gulch, and is the original owner of the land where Galt's Gulch is located hence its official name: Mulligan's Valley

The Moochers

A group of characters, similar to the "Looters", who use guilt as a weapon against those who produce value. They seek to destroy the producers despite the fact that they are dependent upon them. The Moochers include "Lillian Rearden", "Philip Rearden", and Hank Rearden's "mother".

Mort Liddy

A hack composer who writes trite scores for movies and modern symphonies that no one listens to. He believes melody is a primitive vulgarity. He is one of "Lillian Rearden's" friends and a member of the cultural elite. Mort Liddy appears in section 161.

Mr. Mowen

The president of the Amalgamated Switch and Signal Company, Inc. of Connecticut. He is a businessman who sees nothing wrong with the moral code that is destroying society and would never dream of saying he is in business for any reason other than the good of society. He is unable to grapple with abstract issues, and is frightened of anything controversial. Dagny Taggart hires Mr. Mowen to produce switches made of Rearden Metal. He is reluctant to build anything with this unproven technology, and has to be ridden and cajoled before he is willing to accept the contract. When pressured by public opinion, he discontinues production of the switches, forcing Dagny to find an alternative source. Mr. Mowen appears in section 171.

Mystery Worker (John Galt)

A menial worker for Taggart Transcontinental who often dines with "Eddie Willers" in the employee's cafeteria. Eddie finds him very easy to talk to, and Mystery Worker not-so-subtly leads him on so that Eddie reveals important information about "Dagny Taggart" and Taggart Transcontinental; Ayn Rand chooses to record only Eddie's side of each conversation. Eddie tells him which suppliers and contractors Dagny is most dependent on, and with remarkable consistency, those are the next men to disappear mysteriously. Later in the novel the reader discovers the true identity of the Mystery Worker to be John Galt. Mystery Worker appears in section 133.

The unnamed newsstand owner

He works in the Taggart Terminal. Twenty years ago he owned a cigarette factory but it went under, and he's been working at his newsstand ever since. He is a collector of cigarettes, and knows every brand ever made. He occasionally chats with "Dagny Taggart" when she comes by. On one occasion, in section 132, after Dagny asks him about his collection, he bemoans the fact that there are no new brands and the old brands are all disappearing. He examines a cigarette given to Dagny by "Hugh Akston", but it is a new brand that he has never seen before. It carries the sign of the dollar.

Orren Boyle

The head of Associated Steel and a friend of "James Taggart". He is one of the "Looters". He is an investor in the San Sebastián Mines. Orren Boyle appears or is mentioned in sections 111, 114, 131, 132, 144, and 152.

Owen Kellogg

Assistant to the Manager of the Taggart Terminal in . He catches "Dagny Taggart's" eye as one of the few competent men on staff. After seeing the sorry state of the Ohio Division she decides to make him its new Superintendent. However, as soon as she returns to New York, Kellogg informs her that he is quitting his job. He admits that he loves his work, but that is not enough to keep him. He will not say why he is leaving or what he will do. Later, he is noticed working as transient labor by the unsuccessful/unmotivated businessman "Mr. Mowen". Owen Kellog eventually reaches, and settles in, Atlantis. Owen Kellogg appears in sections 112 and 114.

Paul Larkin

An unsuccessful, middle-aged businessman, a friend of the Rearden family, and a member of the "Looters". In section 121 Larkin visits Philadelphia to warn "Hank Rearden" of possible trouble from . In section 131 he meets with the other Looters to work out a plan to bring Rearden down. James Taggart knows he is friends with Hank Rearden and challenges his loyalty, and Larkin assures Taggart that he will go along with them. Paul Larkin appears in sections 121, 132, and 2A1.

Philip Rearden

The younger brother of "Hank Rearden", and a "Moocher". He lives in his brother's home in Philadelphia and is completely dependent on him. He believes that the source of his sustenance is evil and would love to see him destroyed. He has never had a career and spends his time working for various social groups.He becomes resentful of his brother's charity. He then requests that he be granted a job from his brother because he should not have to be burdened by the feeling of inadequacy of not earning his own livelihood. When confronted by his brother on how this job should be a mutually beneficial arrangement, Philip shrugs the argument off as irrelevant and that he should be entitled to the job solely based on his need for money and the fact of familial ties. Philip Rearden appears in sections 121 and 161.

Quentin Daniels

An enterprising engineer hired by "Dagny Taggart" to reconstruct "John Galt's" motor. Partway through this process, Quentin withdraws his effort for the same reasons John Galt himself had. Dagny sets out to meet Quentin in hopes of convincing him to resume his work. John Galt narrowly gets to him first. Dagny's pursuit of Quentin leads her to "Galt's Gulch."

Ragnar Danneskjöld

One of the original "Strikers". He is now world famous as a pirate. Ragnar was from , the son of a bishop and the scion of one of Norway's most ancient, noble families. He attended Patrick Henry University and became friends with "John Galt" and "Francisco d'Anconia", while studying under "Hugh Akston" and "Robert Stadler". When he became a pirate, he was disowned and excommunicated. There is a price on his head in , , .

Ragnar seizes relief ships that are being sent from the to . As the novel progresses, Ragnar begins, for the first time, to become active in American waters, and is even spotted in . Reportedly, his ship is better than any available in the fleets of the world's navies.

People assume that as a pirate he simply takes the seized goods to himself. However, while many other protagonists take pride in making a personal profit from the proceeds of their creativity, Danneskjöld's motivation is to restore to other creative people the money which was unjustly taken away from them - specifically, their income tax payments.

For that purpose, Danneskjöld maintains a network of informants in the US Internal Revenue Service (and possibly also those of other countries) who provide him with detailed copies of the tax receipts; among other talents, Danneskjöld is mentioned as being a skilled accountant. The proceeds from the goods he seizes (presumably minus his operating expenses) are deposited in accounts opened in "Midas Mulligan"'s bank in the names of various industrialists, to the amounts of the income tax taken from them - which are handed to them (in gold) upon their joining the "Strikers".

Kept in the background for much of the book, Danneskjöld makes a personal appearance when he risks his life to meet "Hank Rearden" in the night and hand him a bar of gold as an "advance payment", to encourage Rearden to persevere in his increasingly difficult situation.

As a robber with ideological principles, Danneskjöld superficially resembles the opposite or negative of Robin Hood; he considers Robin Hood as an arch-enemy which he had sworn to pursue and destroy - or rather, not Robin Hood the person, who is long dead, but the principle that it is permissible to rob the rich and give to the poor, a principle which in Danneskjöld's (and Rand's) view is highly pernicious.

In the conversation with Rearden, Danneskjöld claims to limit himself to attacks on government property and never touch private property. This contradicts previous chapters where there is mention of Danneskjöld sinking ships belonging to "D'anconia Copper" and destroying "Orren Boyle"'s plant on the coast of Maine, where Boyle attempted to produce "Rearden Metal". However, the first does not truly constitute robbery, since it was done with the consent of and in collusion with the owner, Danneskjöld's old friend "Francisco D'anconia", and was aimed at helping Francisco's efforts to destroy his own company. And the second was in reaction to Boyle having violated, with government sanction, Rearden's intellectual property (the term did not yet exist at the time of writing).

Danneskjöld is married to the former actress "Kay Ludlow" - a relationship kept hidden from the outside world, which only knows of Ludlow as a former famous film star who retired and dropped out of sight. It is mentioned that some of the "Strikers" have strong reservations about his way of "conducting the common struggle".

Members of Danneskjöld's crew, other than himself, are never named nor appear in the book. Evidently, they are not given access of the hidden valley where their captain sometimes goes, nor - on the basis of need to know - are they given its location, which they might give away if captured.

Such a prolonged and successful piratical career would require a secret haven, probably on the Atlantic Coast of the US. In the end of the book, Danneskjöld's crew are mentioned as preparing to form a new community, while his ship would be converted into "a modest ocean liner". Danneskjöld himself refreshes his knowledge of Aristotle and prepares to become a full-time philosopher, and it is hinted that posterity might remember him mainly as "Hugh Akston"'s disciple rather than as a pirate.

According to Ayn Rand (verbal report), his name is a tribute to Victor Hugo. In Hugo's first novel, "Hans of Iceland", the hero becomes the first of the Counts of Danneskjöld. His name may be a pun on 'Dane's Gold', although "skjold" means shield, not gold. The first name "Ragnar" recalls Ragnar Lodbrok, one of the most famous of the viking leaders (to whose many piratical exploits no motive other than seeking loot was ever attributed). Ragnar Danneskjöld appears in section 161.

However, there are some inaccuracies. 'Ö' is not a Norwegian letter, but a Swedish one; its Norwegian equivalent is 'ø'. "Skjöld" and "skjøld" still exists in Scandinavian surnames and is an old fashioned spelling of the word for "shield", that is now "skjold" (Norwegian) and "sköld" (Swedish). Also, there is actually no noble class in Norway, as the Black Death of the Middle Ages forced any survivors to revert to subsistence farming, and nobility itself was officially abolished by the Storting in 1821.

A possible inspiration might be Norwegian Trygve Hoff that Ayn Rand knew. Hoff was the editor of the Farmand business magazine and outspoken free market capitalist. Trygve Hoff was of an old fine Norwegian family "Hoff" owning grand estates outside the city of Tønsberg in Norway. Tryge Hoff was married to the Norwegian actress Aase Bye. Hoff was an admirer of Aristotle and a collector of ancient busts. Hoff also had the kind of hero-like looks Ayn Rand liked, similar looks to her husband Frank O'Conor.

According to Barbara Branden, who was closely associated with Rand at the time the book was written, there were sections written describing directly Danneskjöld's adventures at sea which were cut out from the final published text. [Reedstrom, Karen. [ 1992 Interview with Full Context] . Barbara Branden interview in "Full Context", October 1992. Republished on Retrieved 1 June 2007.]

Rearden's mother

Rearden's mother, whose name is not mentioned, is a "Moocher" who lives with her son "Hank Rearden" at his home in . She is involved in charity work, and berates Rearden whenever she can. She insults him by saying he was always selfish, even as a child. She dotes on her weak son "Philip Rearden". Rearden's mother appears in section 121.

Richard Halley

Dagny Taggart's favorite composer, who mysteriously disappeared after the evening of his greatest triumph. In section 141 we learn that Richard Halley spent years as a struggling and unappreciated composer. At age 24 his opera "Phaethon" was performed for the first time, to an audience who booed and heckled it. (It was based on the Greek myth in which Phaethon steals his father's chariot, and dies in an audacious attempt to drive the sun across the sky. Halley changed the story, though, into one of triumph, in which Phaethon succeeds.) For years Halley wrote in obscurity. After nineteen years, "Phaethon" was performed again, but this time it was received to the greatest ovation the opera house had ever heard. It appears his critics felt he had paid his dues long enough that he was at last worthy of their approval. The following day, Halley retired, sold the rights to his music, and disappeared. Richard Halley is mentioned in sections 112, 114, 133, and 141, and appears in section 152.

Dr. Robert Stadler

A former professor at Patrick Henry University, mentor to Francisco d'Anconia, John Galt and Ragnar Danneskjöld. He has since become a sell-out, one who had great promise but squandered it for social approval, to the detriment of the free. He works at the State Science Institute where all his inventions are perverted for use by the military, including the instrument of his demise: "Project X." The character might be modeled on Robert Oppenheimer and his part in the creation of nuclear weapons.

Dr. Simon Pritchett

The prestigious head of the Department of Philosophy at Patrick Henry University and considered the leading philosopher of the age. He is also a "Looter". He is certainly representative of the philosophy of the age - he is a crude reductionist who believes man is nothing but a collection of chemicals; he believes there are no standards, that definitions are fluid, reason is a superstition, that it is futile to seek meaning in life, and that the duty of a philosopher is to show that nothing can be understood. He explains all this in his book "The Metaphysical Contradictions of the Universe", and at cocktail parties. Dr. Pritchett appears in section 161.

The Strikers

People of the mind who go on strike because they do not appreciate being exploited by "the Looters" and demonized by a society who depends on them for its very existence. The leader of the Strikers is "John Galt". Other Strikers include: Hugh Akston, Francisco d'Anconia, Ragnar Danneskjöld, Richard Halley, and the Brakeman. Characters who join the Strikers in the course of the book include: Dagny Taggart, Ellis Wyatt, Hank Rearden, Dick McNamara, and Owen Kellogg.

Mr. Thompson

The "Head of the State," which essentially means that he's the President of the United States, though he's never specifically referred to as such. In the world of "Atlas Shrugged" all Presidents and Prime Ministers are referred to simply as "Head of the State" and "Mr. ____." This is because countries have been standardized as "People's States" which seem to share a common form of government. Thompson's title can thus be seen as reflecting the fact that the US is in the process of evolving into one of these "People's States." One of the Looters, he's not particularly intelligent and has a very undistinguished look. He knows politics, however, and is a master of public relations and back-room deals. Rand's notes indicate that she modelled him on President Harry S. Truman.

Wesley Mouch

A member of the "Looters" and, at the beginning of the storyline, the incompetent lobbyist whom "Hank Rearden" reluctantly employs in Washington. Initially Wesley Mouch is the least powerful and least significant of the Looters - the other members of this group feel they can look down upon him with impunity. Eventually he becomes the most powerful Looter, and the country's economic dictator, thereby illustrating Rand's belief that a government-run economy places too much power in the hands of incompetent bureaucrats who would never have positions of similar influence in a private sector business. His name, of course, is a pun on the word "mooch," his modus operandi. Wesley Mouch appears in section 131 and is mentioned in section 161.

Wet Nurse (Tony)

A young bureaucrat sent by the government to watch over Rearden’s mills. Though he starts out as a cynical follower of the looters’ code, his experience at the mills transforms him, and he comes to respect and admire the producers. He is shot attempting to inform Hank Rearden about a government plot, but does succeed in warning Rearden just before he dies.

Minor characters

*An Airport Attendant at the airport near the Wyatt oil fields tells "Dagny Taggart" (in section 171) that "Hank Rearden" had left for , revealing his lies. Rearden had told Dagny he was flying to .
*The Bartender works in the most expensive barroom in New York, frequented by "James Taggart" and the "Looters" (in section 131).
*The Board of Directors of Taggart Transcontinental are a group of men mostly loyal to "James Taggart". Over the years of Taggart's presidency, many Board members have resigned in protest, leaving only those who think like Taggart. The Board represents the other people whose approval is necessary for people who are incapable of making decisions on their own, most notably Taggart, who treats approval of the Board as a scientific test of truth. In section 132 we learn the Board approved the development of the San Sebastian Line and that numerous Board members quit in protest (mentioned in sections 114, 132, 143 and 145).
*The Bum opens the book with the question, "Who is John Galt?". He chats for a moment with "Eddie Willers" helping establish (for the reader) Eddie's sense of unease (in section 111)
*An unnamed Businessman interrupts a conversation between "Dagny Taggart" and "Hank Rearden" at the party in section 161. He is taken aback by the contrast between Dagny's appearance that night and the way she normally appears in her business suits. When Dagny notes his reaction she realizes she had hoped Rearden would react that way, that this was her unadmitted purpose in coming to the party.
*The Chief Engineer phones "Eddie Willers" to tell him that his boss, "Dick McNamara" has closed his business and quit without explanation (in section 141).
*Chief Engineer 2 maintains Taggart Transcontinental at a time when all the competent men have disappeared. Since he can only imitate, and not innovate, he is unenthusiastic about having to work with Rearden Metal. "Dagny Taggart" tells him to design a new bridge to be built with Rearden Metal, but rejects his design because it is a copy of a steel bridge that does not take into account the properties of the new alloy. He is offended by this because his bridge was a good copy of the bridges he was taught to imitate (appears in section 171).
*Clarence Eddington is an economic consultant whom "James Taggart" blames for the decision to build the San Sebastian Line (mentioned in section 143).
*The Conductor works on the Taggart Comet. In section 112 he explains to "Dagny Taggart" that he is waiting for a broken light to change. He represents the type of incompetent, initiativeless worker who is concerned only with following the rules so no one can blame him for anything.
*Dave Mitchum is a state-hired superintendent of the Colorado Division of Taggart Transcontinental. He is partially responsible for Kip Chalmers' death.
*Dagny's father (who is unnamed) was the president of Taggart Transcontinental prior to "James Taggart". In section 132 we learn he was "astonished and proud" of his daughter, but sad for her as well, and apparently not overly supportive of her desire to work for the railroad, though he did nothing to stop her.
*Dagny's mother is mentioned in section 152. She worried about her daughter's apparent lack of interest in boys, and never understood Dagny's desire to work for the railroad. Because of her lack of understanding, she was never able to give Dagny guidance or support, though she was kind and caring within her limits.
*Dr. Floyd Ferris One of the Looter crowd who takes credit, along with Wesley Mouch, for Project X though he is considered too stupid to have contributed anything to the project.
*Dr. Hendricks is a famous brain surgeon who developed a new method of preventing strokes. He joined Galt's strike when the American medical system was put under government control.
*The Engineer appears briefly in section 112. When "Dagny Taggart" wakes up to find the Taggart Comet stalled on a siding, he explains to her why they stopped. He represents the type of incompetent, initiativeless worker who is concerned only with following the rules so no one can blame him for anything.
*The Fireman appears briefly in section 112. While "Dagny Taggart" is trying to find out why the Taggart Comet has stalled, Fireman shows his amusement at how things like this happen.
*Francisco's father was the head of d'Anconia Copper before his son. He raised "Francisco" to be a worthy heir to the mining empire and was very proud to see that he would be. One establishing moment for Francisco's father is when Francisco purchases a dilapidated copper mine at the age of 20. Although d'Anconia's publicist detests the family name being prominently displayed on the plant, Francisco's father has a photo of the plant placed in his office. He died when Francisco was 23 (appears in section 152).
*Gerald Starnes and Ivy Starnes are the two surviving children of "Jed Starnes"; together with their since-deceased brother Eric, they instituted a communistic payment-and-benefits program at Twentieth Century Motors which killed worker morale, convinced "John Galt" to quit the factory, and drove the company into bankruptcy. Gerald, a dying alcoholic, and Ivy, a pseudo-Buddhist ascetic, continue to insist that the plan was perfect and that the failure of their father's company was entirely due to the workers.
*Gertrude is the new cook of the Rearden household (mentioned in section 241).
*Gilbert Vail was allegedly cuckolded by "Francisco d'Anconia". His wife asserts, and Francisco does not deny, that she and Francisco had an affair over New Years at his villa in the . Gilbert is shot by his wife, but survives, and when he sues for divorce she threatens to spill the details of his sordid private life. Just as the scandal is reaching a crescendo in the tabloids, Francisco arrives in town to "witness the farce." (mentioned in section 141).
*James Taggart's Secretary has the unhappy job of explaining to Taggart why Francisco d'Anconia will not see him: "Senor d'Anconia said that you bore him, Mr. Taggart."
*Jed Starnes founded Twentieth Century Motors, and made it the most profitable company of its kind in America before his death.
*Jeff Allen is a tramp who stows away on a Taggart train during one of Dagny's cross-country trips. Instead of throwing him out, she allows him to ride as her guest. It is from Allen that she learns the full story behind the collapse of the Twentieth Century Motor Company, as well as a hint of John Galt's true background.
*Jock Benson is a friend of "Betty Pope", who told her that "James Taggart" did not really run the railroad; his sister did.
*Judge Narragansett is an American jurist who ruled in favor of Midas Mulligan during the case brought against him by the incompetent loan applicant. When Narragansett's ruling was reversed on appeal, he retired and joined the strike. He is a staunch supporter of the inalienable rights theory, and in the final pages he is seen rewriting the United States Constitution to state those rights more explicitly.
*Jules Mott is Taggart Transcontinental's man in . He is the fall guy after the Mexican government nationalizes the San Sebastian Line (appears in section 142 and is mentioned in section 143).
*Kip Chalmers is a Washington man who has decided to run for election as Legislator from California. On the way to his campaign, the Taggart Transcontinental train that was carrying him encountered a split rail, resulting in the destruction of its diesel engine-at that point, one of the last of its kind left anywhere in the world. After a chilling show of bureaucracy, a coal-burning steam engine was attached to his train in its stead and used to pull it through an eight-mile tunnel. This action, for whom no one could later be blamed, resulted in suffocation of all passengers and the destruction of the Taggart Tunnel.
*Emma Chalmers is Kip's mother (see above) and gains some influence after his death. Known as "Kip's Ma," she starts a soybean-growing project in Louisiana and commandeers thousands of railcars to move the harvest. As a result, the year's wheat crop from Minnesota never reaches the rest of the country, but instead rots in storage; also, the soybean crop is lost, having been reaped too early.
*Liz Blaine is a friend of Betty Pope.
*Mr. Ayers is the head of the Ayers Music Publishing Company. In section 114 "Dagny Taggart" calls him to inquire if "Richard Halley" has written a fifth concerto.
*Mr. Coleman is an employee of Taggart Transcontinental mentioned in section 171.
*Mrs. Beacham is a friend of "Rearden's Mother" who does charity work for the parish school (mentioned briefly in section 121).
*Mrs. Gilbert Vail claims she had a love affair with "Francisco d'Anconia" in his villa in the . Afterwards, she shot her husband so she could leave him and be with Francisco. "Gilbert Vail" survived and sued for divorce, at which point his wife promised to reveal the sordid details of his private life to the press. In section 152 we learn that Francisco was in , not in the Andes, at the time when Mrs. Vail claims to have been with him. Mrs. Vail is mentioned in sections 141 and 152.
*Mrs. Nathaniel Taggart is mentioned briefly in section 132 and in section 152. According to legend, "Nathaniel Taggart" put his wife up as collateral for a loan, with her consent. She was a beautiful, dignified southern lady from a good family, from which she was disinherited when she ran off with "Taggart", still a poor adventurer at the time. Her name was Dagny, and is "Dagny Taggart's" namesake.
*Mrs. Weston is a friend of "Lillian Rearden" who attends the Rearden's anniversary party. She is mentioned in section 162.
*Mrs. Whitcomb is a woman who moves in the same circles as "Lillian Rearden" (mentioned in section 161).
*Mrs. William Hastings widow of William Hastings. Graying hair, has a poised distinguished look of grooming. Gives Dagny a lead where she discovers Hugh Akston working as a cook in a roadside diner.
*Nathaniel Taggart is meant to symbolize the so-called Robber Barons of America's industrial age. Nat Taggart was the founder of Taggart Transcontinental. He built his railroad without any government handouts, and ran the business for no other reason than to turn a profit. He began as a penniless adventurer and ended up as one of the wealthiest men in the country. Many stories are told about him: that he once killed a state legislator who tried to use his office to destroy the railroad; that he once put his wife up as collateral for a loan. He never earned money by force or fraud, and never apologized for becoming wealthy and successful. He was one of the most hated men of his time (mentioned in sections 132 and 152).
*Nat Taggart's son built a bridge that is falling to pieces, which will be replaced by the Rearden Metal bridge (mentioned in section 171).
*An unnamed Newspaperman, seedy and deliberately rude, speaks to "Hank Rearden" in section 161.
*Passenger Number 1 on the Taggart Comet in section 112 he tells "Dagny Taggart" how long the train has been stopped after she wakes up.
*Passenger Number 2 talks with the "Conductor", the "Fireman", and the "Engineer" when "Dagny Taggart" approaches to find out why the train has stopped. When she acts as if this sort of problem is unusual and should not happen, he tells her she does not understand railroads.
*Passenger Number 3 is an economics professor. As the train passes Rearden Steel in section 121, he focuses on the fact that "Hank Rearden" has proudly put his name on the company. He scoffs at this, dismissing the individual as unimportant.
*Passenger Number 4 is a journalist who gazes at the steel mill and focuses on the fact that "Hank Rearden" has proudly put his name on the company. He decides he will ridicule Rearden in a future column by calling him the sort of man who sticks his name on everything.
*Pop Harper is chief clerk at the offices of Taggart Transcontinental. He complains that it is impossible to get new typewriters, and that the world will soon be without this simple device. His attitude is that there is nothing to be done and things will just happen as they happen. This attitude explains why, after a lifetime of labor, he is still merely a clerk (appears in section 111).
*President of ULW is an unnamed president of United Locomotive Works—an incompetent industrialist who considers directness a sign of ill-breeding. When "Dagny Taggart" tries to find out why his company has failed to deliver an order, he refuses to give an answer, despite talking for hours (mentioned in section 141).
*Sebastian d'Anconia is an ancestor of "Francisco d'Anconia" who fled during the time of the Inquisition, settled in , and founded d'Anconia Copper. His story is told in section 152.
*Simons is a member of the Rearden household staff, mentioned in section 162.
*The Spinster tells Dagny a John Galt Legend in section 161.
*Tom Colby is the head of the steelworkers union chapter of Rearden Steel. The workforce of Rearden Steel is the highest paid, and therefore the best, in the country, so Colby rarely challenges his boss. Like Eddie Willers, he is not a "Striker", but he is smart enough to not side with the "Moochers" or "Looters." When he retires from Rearden Steel, he assures Hank Rearden that he is on his side.
*The Waiter serves drinks to the "Looters" in section 131.
*An unnamed worker at Rearden Steel in section 121. He is on hand the night the first order of Rearden Metal is poured, and smiles at "Hank Rearden" in acknowledgement of his accomplishment. This is the only acknowledgement Rearden receives.
*William Hastings Deceased five years as of Dagny's meeting with his widow. The head of the laboratory of the Twentieth Century Motor Company. Galt worked for him until the Starnes heirs took over the factory; Hastings quit just after Galt did and joined the strike some years later.

Planned characters excluded from the final version

In the introduction to the 35th anniversary edition, (1991), Leonard Peikoff introduced excerpts from Rand's journals concerning the book, which she originally intended to call "The Strike". Among many other things, the journals reveal some characters which were originally planned to appear in the book and were deleted from the final version.

Father Amadeus

Peikoff tells that "Father Amadeus was Taggart's priest, to whom he confessed his sins. The priest was supposed to be a positive character honestly devoted to the good but practicing consistently the morality of mercy. Miss Rand dropped him, she told me, when she found that it was impossible to make such a character convincing."

The quotation from Rand's journals included a passage describing what John Galt represented to each main characters. That included the following: "For Father Amadeus [Galt represents] the source of the conflict. The uneasy realisation that Galt is the end of his endeavors, the man of virtue, the perfect man - and that his means do not fit this end (and that he is destroying this, his ideal, for the sake of those who are evil)."(See [] )

Interestingly, Rand successfully did something similar in her very first book, "We the Living". There, one of the main characters is a Communist, Andrei Taganov, who definitely can be described, in a paraphrase of the above, as "a positive character honestly devoted to the good but practicing consistently the ideology of Marxism". In other words, a very idealistic and dedicated Communist, who is totally devoted to the Party and is willing to lay down his life for Communism, yet is a sympathetic (and convincing) major character in a book which is as anti-Communist as can be. (Andrei is, moreover, the lover of the book's heroine Kira, which Rand explicitly described as representing herself in character though not in specific biographical details).

tacy Rearden

Peikoff also mentions that as originally conceived the book was going to have a character named Stacy Rearden, a sister of Hank Rearden. Not much is told of what her role was supposed to be and why she was eventually dropped. Apparently, she was going to be another parasite like Rearden's brother, mother and wife; presumably, Rand came to the conclusion that three such characters around Rearden sufficiently fulfilled her literary and philosophical purposes.


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