Atlas Shrugged Volume 1, Chapter 5 Summary
The Climax of the d'Anconias
- Eddie brings Dagny a newspaper with a interesting story: turns out Francisco D'Anconia's San Sebastián Mines were totally worthless. How was he not aware of that?
- Well, Dagny thinks he was and this was his idea of an elaborate, expensive, and mean practical joke.
- She goes to confront him at the Wayne-Falkland Hotel, which is where he's staying while in New York.
- Mega Flashback Time! Seriously, it's a long one. If you were wondering how Dagny knew Francisco, be prepared for answers galore.
- Turns out Eddie and Dagny had another childhood BFF: Francisco, whom they called Frisco.
- The Taggarts and the D'Anconias were old friends, and their kids spent a month together every summer on the Taggart estate.
- Francisco doesn't care for James at all and considers the Taggart kids to be Dagny and Eddie.
- Francisco has the equivalent of a Nat Taggart in his family, one Sebastián D'Anconia. Sebastián came over from Spain in ye olden days and worked hard for fifteen years to get a copper mine up and running in Argentina. He then sent for his girlfriend, who had waited for him all that time. (Now that's hard-core devotion.)
- Frisco is two years older than Dagny. He called her "slug" as a kid, which is a word for a fire in an old locomotive firebox. (Old trains were powered by wood-burning engines, just FYI.)
- Every summer the three musketeers had great adventures.
- One summer, when he was twelve, Frisco got a job working for Taggart Transcontinental, just for fun. Mrs. Taggart thinks all the kids are weird.
- The young Francisco is good at everything, from driving motorboats to doing math.
- As the oldest, Frisco often teaches Dagny and Eddie how to do things, like dive off cliffs or hitch rides on trains without getting caught.
- He and Eddie and Dagny spend their time building things, taking things apart to see how they work, and bumming rides on Taggart trains for fun.
- Frisco and Dagny also spend time planning their futures, and how they'll run awesome businesses some day.
- Frisco is such a super genius that he goes off to college at age sixteen. He attends the fictional Patrick Henry University in Cleveland.
- There's a growing tension between Frisco and Dagny once they hit their teen years.
- James still acts like a wet blanket and is always lecturing Francisco about being arrogant and selfish. We learn that James is attending a fancy-pants school in New York.
- When Frisco returns from his first year at college we learn that he's made two good friends. (Lots more on them to come.)
- He and Dagny discuss their shared values and decide that working hard and doing your work well is the most important thing in life.
- Dagny then says that maybe she'll deliberately get bad grades, though, so that she can try out being popular in school for a change.
- Frisco slaps her.
- Dagny is actually happy about this, since she realizes she struck a nerve and that Frisco cares about her a lot and doesn't want her to sell herself short. Twisted, Dagny.
- Francisco is happy Dagny isn't pressing charges for assault. Just kidding – he actually just thinks Dagny is hard-core and awesome.
- Dagny is fifteen that summer. We learn that the following summer she starts working as the Night Operator at the Rockdale Taggart station.
- Mrs. Taggart is getting concerned about how weird her daughter is. By age seventeen Dagny has never had a boyfriend and all she seems to care about is engineering and work.
- So Mrs. Taggart throws a debutante ball for Dagny, which is a way of introducing her to high society.
- We learn that Dagny was named after Nathaniel Taggart's wife. (Interesting tidbit.)
- Dagny actually has fun getting primped for the ball, and Mrs. Taggart is pleasantly surprised.
- But after the party Dagny is depressed by all the phony people and says she didn't have fun at all.
- That summer Francisco returns, and the tension goes up a notch between them.
- They have a tennis game that is particularly violent and lasts for hours. It's essentially like extended foreplay.
- Dagny wins the match, by the way.
- That night Francisco comes to visit Dagny at Rockdale and walks her home after work.
- On the way home, they stop in the woods, and Francisco grabs Dagny and kisses her.
- They have sex in the woods, and it's the start of a years-long affair.
- They continue their romance all summer but keep it a secret, since they know their families will disapprove. They're both very happy together.
- Dagny starts college in New York in the fall, and Francisco comes to visit her often. They don't know many details of each other's day-to-day lives though. (Dagny later learns that Francisco had been playing the stock market and bought a copper foundry outside Cleveland while he was still in college.)
- The affair continues after Francisco graduates from college, but they still keep it a secret, since they don't want other people disapproving or interfering.
- After his father's death, Francisco takes over D'Anconia Copper at age 23.
- He starts getting agitated and depressed, though, and tells Dagny there is something seriously wrong with the entire world.
- Dagny doesn't see Francisco for three years, but she isn't too bothered by this, since she knows they are working hard for a shared future and she trusts Francisco not to cheat on her.
- Three years later Francisco pops up abruptly and is unusually sentimental toward Dagny.
- He's acting weird, though. First he tells Dagny not to be surprised at what he might do in the future.
- Then he has a mini-freakout and begs her to help him "remain." Dagny doesn't understand what he means.
- Francisco tells Dagny that he can't say any more and asks her to let him do his own thing and not to wait for him.
- Dagny is very confused.
- Soon after this, she starts hearing about Francisco in the gossip papers. He's become a playboy and is having affairs and throwing wild parties and acting like a jerk.
- Dagny is heartbroken. She goes to confront him and he brushes her off.
- It takes Dagny years to get over Francisco. This all happened ten years ago, and she hasn't had a boyfriend since.
- Back to the present. Dagny is going to see Francisco, world's worst ex-boyfriend.
- When she gets to Francisco's hotel room, Dagny finds him playing marbles. (How appropriate, since he seems to have lost his. Ba-dum – we'll be here all week, folks!)
- Dagny greets Francisco warmly, then curses herself for doing so. (Francisco is apparently just too attractive to resist.)
- Dagny tries to find out what's up with the San Sebastián Mine thing, but Francisco won't give her a straight answer.
- Finally, she learns that he thinks it's all just a game and that the whole disaster is hilarious. He particularly likes watching James run around like a chicken with its head cut off.
- Dagny is upset and thinks back to their love affair. She can't understand how Francisco turned into this irresponsible loser.
- She then asks him if Richard Halley wrote a fifth concerto, recalling how they both loved his music back in the day.
- Francisco has a mini-freakout. Perhaps he's part of the Richard Halley fan club, too, and thinks his membership will be revoked for not knowing this.
- He calms down when he sees that Dagny is just speculating. Then she asks him about the Mrs. Gilbert Vail scandal (see Chapter 4).
- Francisco says he never had an affair with her.
- Dagny can't figure out what's going on. Why let that lady say all that garbage in the gossip papers and not refute it?
- Francisco tries to steer the conversation back to Richard Halley, but Dagny isn't having it. She wants to know what's up with Francisco's wacky behavior.
- Francisco confesses that he acted like an irresponsible playboy instead of the super-industrialist that Mexico expected. So it was all a practical joke.
- Dagny is horrified that Francisco is deliberately acting this way and setting out to ruin people.
- She demands to know why, and Francisco arrogantly tells her that she's not ready to hear his reasons yet. The punk.
- Francisco leads Dagny out and cryptically tells her that she has lots of courage and will have enough of it someday. Dagny is confused. So are we.
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