Dagny, Hank, Francisco and Ragnar rescue John Galt. They fly back to the valley as the lights of New York City go out. The novel ends with Galt in the valley pronouncing it is time to go back to the world.
SUBPLOT (loose ends)
As Eddie comes back from San Francisco, the train fails. Everyone deserts him.
Dagny – Dagny murders a guard. She essentially carries out capital punishment. The crime? "Calmly and impersonally, she, who would have hesitated to fire at an animal, pulled the trigger and fired straight at the heart of a man who had wanted to exist without the responsibility of consciousness."
Death – Like life, death also has many dimensions. The one-dimensional view: the binary concept, "you are either physically alive or physically dead". The two-dimensional view: you can be more or less "dead". The three-dimensional view realizes that "death" is not just relative to your physical state. There is spiritual, emotional, and mental "death" as well. Francisco: "I’ll find them some day, whoever they are…" Galt: "If you do, you’ll find that there’s nothing left of them to kill." Ms. Rand believes the mental state is the most important because everything else is a result of it. Consequently, the guard is mentally dead and Dagny is just finishing the job. Does that mean if someone prevents you from thinking or acting, they are murdering you? What about if someone misrepresents the facts to you?
Eddie – On our scale, Eddie was a person in the middle. "Dagny, wherever you go, you’ll always be able to build a railroad. I couldn’t. I don’t even want to make a new start. Not any more. Not after what I’ve seen. You should. Let me do what I can." (AS 3:8) He didn’t have enough "life" to create something new. He knew his only chance was to try and build on top of something else. "The men of the caravan – thought Eddie indifferently – looked too mean-minded to become the founders of a secret, free settlement, and not mean-minded enough to become a gang of raiders; they had no more destination to find than the motionless beam of the headlight; and, like that beam, they would dissolve somewhere in the empty stretches of the country." He also knew that the deserters were going to fail (die), so he isn’t "dead". Ms. Rand left the "mass of humanity" right in the middle of the scale. Ultimately, because Eddie never progressed (grew profitably), he ends up dead.
Eddie and Dagny - Remember this exchange from the first chapter of the novel:
Eddie: "I don't know. That's what we ought to find out. Not just what you said. Not just business and earning a living. Things like winning battles, or saving people out of fires, or climbing mountains."
Dagny: "What for?"
Eddie: The minister said last Sunday that we must always reach for the best within us. What you suppose is the best within us?"
I believe this is Dagny's response: "I don't know"
Eddie: "We'll have to find out."
Dagny...she did not answer; she was looking away, up the railroad track.
Business – At the end of the novel, Eddie comes to a realization about that moment between him and Dagny years ago. "Dagny, that is what it was...and you knew it, then, but I didn't...you knew it when you turned to look at the rails...I said, "not business or earning a living"...but, Dagny, business and earning a living and that in man which makes it possible - that is the best within us, that was the thing to defend..." Business is the most tangible example we have of the best within us. The way a person handles their profession is the best example of their moral code. It is the area of your life that is the hardest to fake. There are too many variables and people involved. Imagine pretending to produce. Think of all the people you would have to convince in order to show a profit over the long-term. Long-term profitability doesn’t happen by chance. It takes ability in several areas: management, training, financial acumen, creativity, etc. A person’s life is the same way. (Notice, at the end of the novel, Eddie is making the case that Dagny actually did know, but said she didn't.)
Profitability – Profitability depends on uniqueness. A person gives something of value to someone else for something of equal value. How does that result in a profit? Because things are valued differently by different people. To me something might be worth $100. But to someone else it may make them a lot more profitable than $100. If they can find something of lesser value to them, but worth more than $100 to me then we are both profitable. This entire scenario is completely dependent on logic, uniqueness, and interaction. In order to be profitable, you have to have connection. You have to interact with at least one other person. People who isolate themselves can’t be profitable.
Big Picture – People who only see the small picture believe everyone should value things the same way and consequently enjoy the same things. However, what’s right for them may not be right for you. By definition, the Big Picture includes all of us. Therefore it is that level that applies to all of us. Profitability is that Big Picture, because profitability applies to all of us; we all need it to survive. It is the execution of "profitability" that is dependent on the individual. IF we all valued the same things at the same level, we couldn’t be profitable. If we don’t interact, we can’t be profitable.
Long-Term – Is it possible to be profitable after "death"? This is a contradiction. Profitability creates life. Yet, people are profitable after they are physically removed from this earth. Teachers are just one example. Profitability is achieved through the use of words. Since there are no contradictions, there must be a greater reality than this physical world.
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