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Atlas Shrugged

Atlas Shrugged


by Ayn Rand

Atlas Shrugged Volume 1, Chapter 10 Summary

Wyatt's Torch

  • The hunt for the inventor of the motor begins.
  • Hank and Dagny go to the Hall of Records to find out who owns the factory now.
  • Turns out no one: it was sold to two owners, and there's been a lengthy court battle going on over it.
  • The last legal owner was a Mark Yonts of the People's Mortgage Company, which is now bankrupt. Yonts sold the factory to some people in South Dakota while also using it as collateral on a loan from a bank in Illinois – hence the current legal dispute.
  • Financial FYI: When you get a loan from a bank, you generally have to offer up something like property to back it up, as collateral. (Or, if you are Nat Taggart, your wife – see Chapter 3!) Collateral means that if you don't pay back your loan, the bank can seize your property. So this is why the bank has a claim to the Twentieth Century Motor Company.
  • We learn that the poor, creepy town Hank and Dagny visited is called Starnesville.
  • The Hall of Records guy doesn't have much info, but he does tell them that Yonts bought the factory from Mayor Bascom of Rome, Wisconsin.
  • Scene cut! We're now at Mayor Bascom's office.
  • He tells Dagny she's wasting her time trying to find anyone who worked at the factory.
  • Dagny looks out the window and thinks that Rome is only a few steps away from reaching Strarnesville levels of poverty.
  • The mayor rambles on about crooked business deals and how people have to make money somehow, winking at Hank and Dagny all the while.
  • Finally he gives them some decent info: Jed Starnes used to run the factory, and all the trouble started up after he died. The Mayor got the factory in a bankruptcy sale.
  • It was the bankruptcy sale of Community National Bank in Madison, run by one Eugene Lawson. Eugene didn't actually own the factory, but he'd put lots of money into it. It isn't specified, but we're assuming that the Community National Bank has the factory as collateral on a loan, which is how the factory ended up in a bankruptcy sale.
  • A corporation named Amalgamated Service Inc. owned it before the Mayor.
  • Eugene Lawson currently works for the Bureau of Economic Planning and National Resources in Washington.
  • The mayor then gives some unsolicited advice: he tells Dagny to get a wedding ring if she and Hank are going to run around having an affair. He says he could tell they weren't married from all their crazy sexual tension, which married couples don't have.
  • Hank is furious and is about to challenge the mayor to a duel or something, but Dagny drags him out.
  • She tries to calm him down, but he's not having it.
  • They decide to head back to New York, and Dagny says she'll get some people to move the Magical Motor to Taggart Transcontinental for safe keeping.
  • She calls Eddie to tell him about the motor, but Eddie doesn't have time for that: the kitty litter has hit the fan and Dagny has to get home pronto. Eddie thinks Congress is planning to pass some new laws that will kill Colorado. Doom!
  • New scene. Dagny is hiding the motor in an underground vault at Taggart Transcontinental.
  • Next we get a rundown of doom.
  • All sorts of groups are demanding that restrictions be placed on the John Galt Line and on Colorado. The Locomotive Engineers Union wants to restrict the speed of trains on the John Galt Line for safety reasons. States bordering Colorado demand that Colorado not hog all the train traffic. Mr. Mowen wants a guarantee that everyone can have an equal share of Rearden Metal. Orren Boyle wants to limit the amount of Rearden Metal Hank can produce. Wesley Mouch is demanding emergency powers for the Economic Bureau. Talk about doom.
  • Dagny demands that James use his Washington connections to put a stop to this. James acts like he doesn't know what she's talking about.
  • They debate the issues and Dagny walks out frustrated, since talking to James is like talking to a brick wall.
  • Dagny is stressed and can't figure out what to do.
  • She heads off to Washington for a meeting with Eugene Lawson.
  • Meanwhile, all these restrictions on Rearden Metal are giving Hank big problems too.
  • He's meeting with Paul Larkin, who screwed up and missed a shipment of ore to Hank.
  • Paul insists that it wasn't his fault, since he totally intended to do it.
  • Hank is like, I can't use your intentions idiot.
  • Hank learns that Larkin is badly mismanaging things and throws him out of his office.
  • Hank has to start doing lots of shady backroom deals in order to get the materials and money he needs for his factory.
  • The one bright spot in Hank's life is Dagny, but even that is ruined somewhat by all his guilt.
  • Hank sneaks home and tries to avoid Lillian, but she comes into his room.
  • Lillian takes her usual approach of mocking Hank.
  • She gripes about what a lousy husband Hank is and laughs at him.
  • Hank stresses and tries to figure out what her deal is and why she married him. He can't tell if she loves him or not, but he decides he's the guilty one, so he has to let her get away with whatever she wants.
  • She tries to put the moves on him and he shoves her away.
  • She's shocked but recovers quickly and goes back to mocking him.
  • Hank finally asks why she makes cracks about him all the time. She has no answer.
  • Finally she leaves, and Hank wishes he were in New York with Dagny.
  • Scene cut! Dagny is meeting with Eugene Lawson in D.C.
  • Eugene, apropos of nothing, says he doesn't feel guilty about how things went down, literally, with his bank at all.
  • Dagny says she didn't say anything about guilt.
  • He says again that he doesn't feel guilty.
  • Dagny is like, whatever, tell me about Twentieth Century Motors.
  • Eugene carries on about how he's a philanthropist and believes in "need not greed."
  • He won't answer any of Dagny's questions directly. He tells her he knew everyone who worked in the factory and was BFF to all.
  • But of course now he can't remember anyone's name.
  • He then asks Dagny if she wants to ask him anything about her railroad, but Dagny shuts him down.
  • Eugene loses it a bit and yells about how the bank collapse wasn't his fault, since rich people were out to get him. Er, sure buddy.
  • Finally he gives her some useful info: the head of the Amalgamated Service Inc. was a Lee Hunsacker, who now lives in Oregon.
  • Eugene gets mad and tells her she has no right to hate him.
  • Dagny has nothing to say to that.
  • He rants some more about how he's a nice guy with good motives and has never made a profit in his life.
  • Dagny tells him that is a despicable statement and leaves. Good day, sir.
  • New scene. Dagny is now meeting with Lee Hunsacker, who is also whiny.
  • Lee is convinced that everyone is out to get him.
  • He's currently writing his memoirs.
  • In the midst of his ranting we learn that Jed Starnes's children took over his factory after his death and ran it into the ground. Lee took over after them and thought it was a great opportunity, but he needed a huge loan.
  • Some banker named Midas Mulligan refused him a loan.
  • Dagny recalls that Midas Mulligan was a famous banker who was hardcore back in the day. His name was Michael but he changed it to Midas, which had been a rude nickname people had for him.
  • Fun fact: In Greek mythology, Midas was a man who made a wish that he could turn anything he touched to gold. He got his wish but quickly cursed it when he found that his food and drink were turning into gold as well. So he asked for help and eventually had to bathe in a river in order to lose his Midas touch.
  • Midas Mulligan seems to embrace the name, however.
  • He vanished without a trace seven years ago. (Seems to be a trend in this book.)
  • Mulligan planned it all in advance, though, and every depositor in the bank got their money back down to the last penny.
  • Mulligan's disappearance had always freaked Dagny out, since it was so bizarre.
  • Lee breaks back into Dagny's thoughts and tells her that he sued Mulligan for refusing him a loan.
  • Dagny is appalled.
  • But it gets better: some judge named Narragansett ruled against Lee and in favor of Midas. But then a court of appeals overturned the verdict and was going to force Mulligan to give Lee a loan. But Mulligan disappeared before he could be forced to do so, and Lee didn't get any money.
  • Well, that solves part of that mystery. Turns out the Judge retired six months after that case, right around the time Mulligan vanished.
  • This is where Eugene Lawson enters the story with a huge loan to Lee.
  • Finally Lee decides he should probably ask who he's talking to. He and Eddie Willers would get along super!
  • Dagny fills him in and he starts ranting about industrialists and how they're all awful.
  • He has no other useful info for Dagny. He offers to show her his factory records, but they turn out to be a bunch of newspaper clippings about himself.
  • He does tell her where she can find the Starnes heirs though: Louisiana. It's a cross-country chase!
  • Dagny heads to Louisiana and talks to the chief of police in Durance.
  • He warns Dagny away from the Starnes kids, saying they are all bad seeds.
  • Eric Starnes, the youngest, committed suicide four years ago. He was chasing after a sixteen-year-old who said ew, since he was over forty. Then later on her wedding day, to a nice age-appropriate man, Eric killed himself in her bedroom so that the couple would find him when they got home from the ceremony.
  • Gerald Starnes is in the poor house and is super bitter. He rants about how he tried to do good at the factory and how it all went wrong, but it wasn't his fault.
  • Dagny leaves, disgusted.
  • Next up is Ivy Starnes, who lives in a small house decorated with lots of Buddhas.
  • Ivy also rants about how she and her siblings were humanitarians and turned the factory into a communist paradise. They stopped paying salaries and instead rewarded people based on their need, which was determined at mass meetings that everyone attended.
  • Dagny is about to lose it and Ivy can't figure out what her problem is.
  • Ivy does remember who ran the laboratory, though: William Hastings.
  • We're off again, this time to Brandon, Wyoming.
  • Turns out William Hastings is dead. Dagny talks with his widow.
  • She says he worked at the factory before the Starnes kids took over, but she doesn't recall any of the people he worked with.
  • She says her husband quit soon after the Starnes kids took over and seemed really upset about something for a year afterwards. Then he chilled out and quit his new job in Wyoming.
  • She said they had a very quiet life after that and lived off their savings.
  • She recalls that he had a young engineering apprentice who was apparently brilliant, but she can't remember his name.
  • But she does tell Dagny a weird story: a few years ago she went to pick up her husband at a restaurant and she saw him talking with a young man and an older one. He got in the car and told her that the young guy was the awesome engineer he had told her about.
  • She remembers the address of the restaurant.
  • Dagny goes to the place, which is more like a diner, and sees a distinguished older guy behind the counter.
  • Dagny strikes up a conversation while eating her super delicious meal.
  • She asks the old guy if he'd like to come work for Taggart Transcontinental at their dining-car department.
  • The old guy refuses and Dagny can't understand why he's wasting his cooking skills at a roadside diner.
  • Dagny then asks him about the motor inventor.
  • The man knows who she is talking about but refuses to tell her his name or how to reach him.
  • Dagny then introduces herself and the man says he knows who she is.
  • He tells her to give up her quest and then introduces himself as Hugh Akston.
  • It's Francisco's philosophy professor! Dagny is stunned.
  • She wonders if she's being punked, or if Dr. Akston is conducting a wacky experiment.
  • He says no but won't explain himself further.
  • He tells her that contradictions don't exist and that she'll figure out what is going on one of these days.
  • She asks him about his ex-students and he tells her he is super proud of all of them.
  • He tells Dagny that the motor inventor will find her one day, and he gives her a cigarette with a dollar sign on it.
  • Dagny heads home.
  • Shortly afterwards all those bad laws about Colorado and Rearden Metal are passed. Colorado is also being taxed big-time to help support people in other states.
  • Dagny is horrified and rushes to Colorado to try to talk to Ellis Wyatt and see what he'll do now that they've cut off his transportation.
  • When she gets there she finds Ellis Wyatt's oil fields on fire, and he is gone.
  • Ellis has left a note, though, about how he's leaving things as he found them. Peace out, suckers.
  • And thus ends Volume 1.

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