Atlas Shrugged Study Questions

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Atlas Shrugged

Study Questions

  1. Why does John Galt believe that the men of the mind must go on strike in order to achieve their goals?

  2. Given that Rearden and Dagny philosophically agree with the strikers, why do they oppose them in action?

  3. Ayn Rand observed that it took the rational achievements of Dagny, Reardon, et al., to uphold the statist regime. What does this say about the relative power of good and evil?

  4. Eddie Willers can be understood as Everyman at his moral best. What philosophical role does he play in the story?

  5. Why does Reardon feel compelled to carry on his back both a mooching family and a load of political parasites? What does this suggest about his moral code?

  6. Lillian Rearden and James Taggart hold essentially the same motivation. Identify it, and explain it.

  7. Explain why John Galt considered Dr. Robert Stadler as his worst “conscious” enemy.

  8. How is Francisco d’Anconia able to keep intact his unclouded gaiety even though he loses so much because of the strike, including Dagny?

  9. Explain Ragnar Danneskjold’s statement that Robin Hood is the one man he is out to destroy. What is the deeper moral meaning of his claim?

  10. Why is Mr. Thompson eager to negotiate with Galt, even though they hold contradictory theories of government? What makes him so willing to brush aside principles and is so eager to merely solve the emergency of the moment?
  11. Though Ayn Rand’s stated purpose in writing Atlas Shrugged was to “provide a moral defense of capitalism,” she nevertheless presents unscrupulous businessmen –e.g., James Taggart and Orren Boyle—as villains. What is the difference between these two and Dagny and Rearden? Why is it that the second pair is an example of capitalism, but the first pair is not?

  12. Compare and Contrast each of the following pairs:

    1. Hank Rearden and Francisco d’Anconia

    2. Dagny Taggart and Lillian Rearden

    3. Eddie Willers and James Taggart

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