Summary of Chapter 1 “The Theme” of Atlas Shrugged by Ayand Rand.
ATLAS SHRUGGED — By Ayand Rand
Eddie Willers is the special assistant to the Vice-president in charge of operations of Taggart Transcontinental who never liked the sight of the calendar the mayor of New York had erected on top of a building for citizens to tell the day of the month and hours of the day. “Who is John Galt?” is a question that expresses hopeless situation and Eddie doesn’t like the question just as he doesn’t like to see shops closing along Fifth Avenue. Eddie Willers is troubled by the steadily declining revenues of the railroad and the diminishing industrial output of the country in general.
Eddie Willer speaks to James Taggart who is the President of Taggart Transcontinental on the desperate condition of the track on their Rio Norte line that serves Colorado the last state whose industrial production is booming. He reminds Jim the home of Ellis Wyatt whose discovery of a new method of extracting oil from shale rock led to the boom, it is a vital to the country’s survival and can’t be left without transportation. Jim says that his friend Orren Boyle who is the head of associated steel has experienced unavoidable delays in the production of his rail and can’t be blamed. Eddie says that Hank Rearden of Rearden steel the last great steel producer in the country can provide the rails. Taggart refuses to consider Eddie’s proposition.
James’ sister and Eddie’s boss, Dagny Taggart returns from a trip to examine Rio Norte line. She heard the young brake man on the train whistling a theme that sounded like a composition of Richard Halley, the composer whose works she loves but he retired eight years ago and disappeared. The brake man told her that the new piece was Halley’s fifth concerto. Dagny calls the company that publishes Halley’s music and finds that he hasn’t written a new piano concerto.
Dagny found the line in worse shape than she expected on her return to Rio Norte, she tells James that she has cancelled the order with Associated Steel and placed it with Rearden. Dagny has ordered rail made not of steel but of a new product, Rearden metal. James objects on the grounds that the new metal has never been tried before and hasn’t been approved by public opinion. Dagny, who studied engineering in collage, tells him that she has seen Rearden’s formula and tests and she’s convinced that Rearden’s invention is superior to steel. She also says that she will use Rearden metal to rebuild the Rio Norte Line and win back shippers from Dan Conway’s superb Phoenix-Durango rail road which now carries most of colorado’s freight traffic. Dagny is determined to save the rail road from the consequences of the worthless San Sebastian Line which she asserts the Socialist- Mexican Government will imminently nationalize.
In conclusion of chapter one, Dagny wants to promote Owen Kellogg, an efficient employer of the terminal division but he quits and laves the rail road industry entirely.
About the NEIEF book club.
The NEIEF book club is based on the idea that by combining reading, writing, questioning and listening skills, fellows will become better readers regardless of the way the groupings are organized.