by Ayn Rand
Atlas Shrugged Memory and the Past 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.
"Francisco...if he could live through that night what right have I to complain? What does it matter, how I feel just now? He built that bridge. I have to hold it for him. I can't let it go.... I feel almost as if he'd know it, if I let that happen, he'd know it that night when he was alone over the river. (188.8.131.52)
Dagny draws on the memory of her heroic ancestor, Nat Taggart, to psych herself up for a fight. She feels like her failure would somehow reach back in time and impact Nat, as if the present could alter the past.
Now, looking from the memory of the girl on the flatcar to the Gift Certificate lying on his desk, he felt as if the two met in a single shock, fusing all the days and doubts he had lived between them, and by the glare of that explosion, in a moment's vision of a final sum, he saw the answer to all his questions. (184.108.40.206)
After his epiphany, Hank's past and present fuse together. He suddenly understands his past and everything that has led him to this moment, when he gains a fuller understanding of himself.
When she opened her eyes, she saw sunlight, green leaves and a man's face. She thought: I know what this is. This was the world as she had expected to see it at sixteen – and now she had reached it – and it seemed so simple, so unastonishing, that the thing she felt was like a blessing pronounced upon the universe by means of three words: But of course. (220.127.116.11)
Atlantis is all about recapturing the joy of childhood, so it's fitting that it matches the vision of the world Dagny had as a teenager. It's interesting that she says "but of course" here, implying that the visions of her sixteen-year-old self were destined to be true.