Atlas Shrugged Chapter 25: Their Brothers’ Keepers

Being sick much of last week, I muddled slowly through the first part of this chapter, and then in a sudden urge to finish this by the end of the month, I surged forward. As a result, I’m currently halfway through the behemoth 27th chapter. As such, many of my impressions of chapters 25 and 26 are somewhat tainted by the later information.

Chapter summary: This is the tale of four broken copper wires over the span of a month and a half, and the ensuing domino effect now that copper is in such short supply. The first wire, in California, interrupts a communication line. Jim lets it slip to Dagny that he’s about to control d’Aconia Copper, only shortly before it turns out that d’Aconia Copper has been mysteriously destroyed. The second one, in Montana, interrupts emergency copper mining efforts. The third one, in Minnesota, interrupts the wheat harvest from being delivered. The fourth one, in New York, brings down Taggert Terminal itself. In each case, an increasingly desperate Dagny fights to solve the problem while the usual antagonists get in her way. In New York, while addressing the workers to tell them her plan of getting them to line the rail sidings with lanterns to act as human signal lights, she spots John in the crowd. They have a brief encounter in private, during which she confirms that she’s still not quite ready to give up, and he tells her how to contact him when she is.

Philosophically, there’s nothing new in this chapter. At this point, Rand has reiterated the points enough that there’s little new left to say (except Galt’s own summation in chapter 27).

Narratively, much of this chapter was interesting, although there were some terrible spots. Rand outdoes her earlier journalistic hamfistedness with the radio news report on d’Aconia copper being destroyed, and when Philip confronts Hank for a job, both of them appear to have forgotten that he had already done so, and been turned down, in pretty much the same conversation several hundred pages previously.

For the sake of the book overall, this was a necessary chapter, but I felt it went on for too long.

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