Who Is I



Who Is I?
Ayn Rand












Tiffany Hohmann
2nd Johnston
5/11/2000
Who Is I?
In Atlas Shrugged, Ayn Rand provides a well-written explanation of objectivism in a monumental novel about those who hold the world on their shoulders. Her characters are a myriad of individuals, ranging from the highest achievement possible: a human, to one of the most horrid creatures on this planet: a once-human imbecile. She gives the reader insight into the psyche of society and the motivations behind our actions. In this novel, Rand’s most righteous characters are those with the most internal conflict. They must shed their conditioning that has been imposed on them by the earth’s people and leave behind what they value as most precious. There is one character that is held higher than the rest. A man of morality, introspection, and enigma, he begins the book and finishes it. So, who is John Galt?
John Galt is Rand’s brilliant character that blends imagination and intelligence. John Galt can be described as having the same opinion on life that Henry David Thoreau does. They both believe you shouldn’t carry the world on your shoulders; they realize that in fact by giving things to the needy (Rand would use the word unworthy) you aren’t enabling them to become better people, but merely allowing them o feed off of other’s success. Their opinions differ in that Thoreau had good intentions for all and Galt is only interested in the very best for the competent and likes the idea of leaving saps in the dust. Galt brings Atlas’s people from the earth into their Olympus, Galt’s Gulch. There, these remarkable competent people are able to create their own utopia of industry and live without the weight of the earth’s incompetents. He, like Dagny Taggart, Francisco d’Anconia, and Henry Reardon, is a person of high ideals and standards. He values the dollar because he knows that the dollar is the highest commodity of respect a human can give to another’s ability. The actual sign of the dollar is the symbol of its country’s initials: for the United States, “the only country in history where wealth was not acquired by looting, but by production, not by force, but by trade… The symbol of man’s right to his own mind, to his work, to his life, to his happiness, to himself” (Atlas Shrugged, 637). It is the country that draws men like John Galt, Henry Reardon, and Francisco d’Anconia. These men use it as a symbol of themselves and of their quest, evident on everything they produce. Galt’s ability is what is needed by those of the earth in order to keep them elevated in the universe. What would happen if all these industrialists shrugged the world’s expectations off their shoulders? Rand answers this.
Because Galt, like the rest of Atlas’s people, has a passion for his work and moralistic code, he is torn by this love of industry and his idealistic hope for the future of the world. A new world without looters and moochers that can begin again with Atlas’s people populating and driving it. In order to leave behind the old world and begin anew, he must stop the motor of the world; he must destroy it. He must do two things: understand the looters’ moralistic code and annihilate all he holds dear in a calculating manner. To do this, he recruits his two best friends: Francisco d’Anconia and Ragner Danneskjold. These three prodigies, the “Climax of the d’Anconias,” the “golden-haired pirate,” and the “Face without Pain or Fear or Guilt,” would lead the rebellion to destroy all that is most important in order to save it from those who would ruin and plunder it. Galt is very determined. So determined that he is able to abandon his most ingenious achievement, a motor than runs on static electricity, and desist from working. When he does this, he eliminates the possibility for the motor to run a world where there is no cause of movement. He unravels the secret to the world’s destruction.
Besides having to choose between his love of industry and his love of the future, Galt faces another predicament: his love for Dagny Taggart. She is the only woman Francisco d’Anconia and Henry Reardon ever loved. She plays the same role for Galt.