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Atlas Shrugged

Atlas Shrugged

by Ayn Rand

Mr. Mowen

Character Analysis

The owner of a switch and signal company, Mr. Mowen is another of the book's minor, bad businessmen. He isn't a bigwig in the looter regime, but he definitely plays a part. Mr. Mowen crops up a few times in the book, but one scene in particular really embodies the type of character he is, and his role in the novel:

"Something ought to be done," said Mr. Mowen. "A friend of mine went out of business – last week – the oil business...couldn't compete with Ellis Wyatt. It isn't fair. They ought to leave the little people a chance. He shouldn't be allowed to produce so much...there's a shortage of oil in the city.... Things aren't right. Something ought to be done about it." (1.9.4.36)

This contradictory, illogical, and petulant rant embodies everything the looters represent as a group and as a system of ideas. Mowen often expresses a desire for things to stay the same, as well, protesting against businessmen "disappearing." Stability is an important running theme in looter ideology. James in particular is a proponent of stability at any cost. Mowen also seems to want things to magically go his way without having to worry about reason or practical details.

Mowen's resentment of people who are doing better than he is, or who are shaking up his small (and small-minded) world, is a sign of his looter status. Unlike Galt's crowd, looters resent talent. Unlike some of the more cynical and savvy looters, though, Mr. Mowen seems somewhat bewildered by things, almost as if he fell into the looter system without knowing any better.

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