by Ayn Rand
Atlas Shrugged Choices Quotes
How we cite our quotes: Citations follow this format: (Volume.Chapter.Section.Page). We used the 50th Anniversary Edition published by Signet Books in 2007.
"Every man builds his world in his own image," he said. "He has the power to choose, but no power to escape the necessity of choice. If he abdicates his power, he abdicates the status of man, and the grinding chaos of the irrational is what he achieves as his sphere of existence – by his own choice." (18.104.22.168)
Galt here explains the consequences that come from refusing to make choices. We see the consequences of this refusal in scenes like the Taggart Tunnel disaster.
He had burned everything there was to burn within him; he had scattered so many sparks to start so many things – and he wondered whether someone could give him now the spark he needed, now when he felt unable to rise again. He asked himself who had started him and kept him going. Then he raised his head. Slowly, with the greatest effort of his life, he made his body rise until he was able to sit upright.... He never asked that question again. (22.214.171.124).
In a climactic moment for Hank, he realizes his own power and makes the choice to keep going. It's interesting that "sparks" are used as a metaphor here; the people involved with the strike are often linked to fire and light symbolism.
"Dagny! Help me to remain. To refuse. Even though he's right!"
She asked evenly, "To refuse what, Francisco?"
He did not answer, only pressed his face harder against her. (126.96.36.199-7)
Francisco has a moment of weakness and begs Dagny to help him refuse to join the strike; but it's notable that even in his moment of weakness, Francisco is still willing to make some sort of choice, rather than refuse to choose at all.