Atlas Shrugged Chapter 11: The Man who Belonged on Earth

It’s not Rand’s fault that the title of this chapter evokes not one but two David Bowie references, both of which come well after Atlas Shrugged and probably neither of which is related. Regardless, though, for the time being when I think of Hank Rearden, my mind sings, “You’re face… to face… with the man belonged on Earth.”

Chapter summary: Project X is introduced in murmurs. Dagny and Stadler discuss the engine; Stadler gives her a name for someone who might be able to rebuild the engine, but demurs on who may have designed it. He thinks about a John Galt he knew once, who has to be dead. Elsewhere, Hank has a showdown over an Science Institute goon over an emergency need for his Metal, for Project X. The chapter ends with more “You and me vs the world” between Hank and Dagny.

I’m beginning to actively dislike the sexual relationship between Hank and Dagny. It feel out of character, but even if it were in character, it’s not my cup of tea. Hank’s arrogant speech on how, unlike his fellow obscenely rich compatriots, he truly knows how to enjoy luxury and therefore is entitled to dressing Dagny up as he pleases, I found especially obnoxious.

The paranoia that they can’t help Stadler because he’s not to be trusted, that their lives may be in danger, makes sense from Rand’s own background and knowledge of both the Soviets and the Nazis, as well as McCarthyism at home. In modern retrospect, it may seem silly and over the top, but in 1957, I don’t think it was quite so nuts.

Does Rand really think so little of her readers that she would have us believe that Dagny has not at least suspected by now that John Galt is the inventor of the motor, and the unnamed third student? It’s ironic that she spends time criticizing Ferris for pandering to the lowest common denominator.

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