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Atlas Shrugged

Atlas Shrugged

by Ayn Rand

Visions of America Theme

There are a lot of different Americas in Atlas Shrugged. There's a familiar one, with cities, states, and industries that we recognize. And there is alternate-universe one existing in a world of communist People's States. We have an apocalyptic one that's in the process of sliding toward destruction. And we have the heroic vision of an ideal America, safeguarded in Colorado.

Atlas Shrugged is both a cautionary tale – a frightening vision of what America could be – and a book about what America can and, in Rand's opinion, should be. By tying Galt's values to Colorado, we get an ideal of America that is connected to the Old West and the ideas of a frontier spirit.

Most of the characters involved in Galt's strike bring different American ideals and visions of America to the table. Through Dagny, we get the Nat Taggart mythology and links to a frontier, pioneer spirit and the spirit of American industry. Through Francisco we get an immigrant success story and his love and loyalty to his chosen country. Through Galt we get the story of a self-made man who came from obscurity and made it. Through Hank we get references to the Puritans, which tie in to a hard-work ethic and industry. Different aspects of American mythology and ideals of greatness, from the puritans, to the founding fathers, to the pioneers, to industrial capitalists are all incorporated into Galt's value system.

Questions About Visions of America

  1. Galt's quest to save America is led by two foreigners, Ragnar and Francisco. What is the significance of this?
  2. How does Francisco see America? What makes America great in his opinion?
  3. How is the America of the book different from the one we know? How is it familiar?
  4. What role does Colorado play in the book? What does Colorado represent in terms of the book's themes and ideas?

Chew on This

Try on an opinion or two, start a debate, or play the devil’s advocate.

In Atlantis, Galt and his fellow strikers hope to resurrect a certain vision of America's past, best represented by people like Nat Taggart.

Galt and his strikers hope to completely reinvent America, as demonstrated by Judge Narragansett rewriting the U.S. Constitution at the novel's end.

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