How we cite our quotes:
It seemed to her that some destroyer was moving soundlessly through the country and the lights were dying at his touch – someone, she thought bitterly, who had reversed the principle of the Twentieth Century motor and was now turning kinetic energy into static. (184.108.40.206)
Dagny's notion of the "destroyer" – with all the negative connotations of that word – embodies the fear and mystery surrounding the disappearances.
People were running out, running to telephones, running to one another, clutching or pushing the bodies around them at random. These men, the most powerful men in the country...had become a pile of rubble, clattering in the wind of panic, the rubble left of a structure when its key pillar had been cut.
. . . Three persons stood immovably still, like three pillars spaced through the room, the lines of their sight cutting across the spread of the wreckage: Dagny, looking at Francisco – Francisco and Rearden, looking at each other. (220.127.116.113-357)
Francisco sets off a panic when he announces that his company stock is crashing, revealing the unstable and fragile nature of the looters' world system. The looters are very hard to pin down, but their system, based on equal parts denial, greed, and fear, topples fairly easily. The end of this scene also provides some foreshadowing with the image of three of our heroes standing alone amidst the rubble of the looters.
"We'll be safe for the first time in centuries. Everybody will know his place and job.... Why should we permit them to blast the ground from under our feet every few steps? Why should we be kept on the go in eternal uncertainty?" (18.104.22.168)
James's panic and fear take on an unusually concrete form here when he reveals that he is terrified of change and that the people who are better and stronger than him are a threat to his stability.