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Atlas Shrugged

Atlas Shrugged

by Ayn Rand

Eugene Lawson

Character Analysis

Eugene Lawson might just be the worst banker ever. Eugene is a pro at making bad investments. He dumped a lot of money into the Twentieth Century Motor Factory when it was under bad management. When the factory crashed it took Eugene's bank with it, which in turn nearly took out the entire state of Wisconsin. Well, if you're going to crash, at least do it with panache.

Like a roach, Eugene emerged and scurried off to a cozy job in Washington at the Bureau of Economic Planning. Eugene is a looter of the spirit, a humanitarian in words but a sadist in actions. Dagny at one point says that he has "charity-lust" (3.5.1.32). And Eugene often uses words of humanitarianism to express very cruel ideas:

"It's a great responsibility," said Eugene Lawson, "to hold the decision of life or death over thousands of people and to sacrifice them when necessary, but we must have the courage to do it." His soft lips seemed to twist into a smile. (3.5.4.12)

Yikes. Similar to James Taggart in many respects, Eugene wants people to love him and seems to think that being charitable and "democratic" is a way to accomplish this:

"I knew them all. It was the men that interested me, not machines. I was concerned with the human side of industry, not the cash-register side. . . .They all knew me by sight. I used to come into the shops and they would wave and shout, 'Hello, Gene.'" (3.10.5.12-14)

Eugene's problem is that he doesn't seem to love anyone back. Like James, Eugene is prone to hysterics. Also like James, he seems afraid of seeing and understanding too much. His aim seems to be to live in a happy humanitarian bubble of self-denial.

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