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Summary

Atlas Shrugged Volume 1, Chapter 8 Summary Page 1

The John Galt Line

  • Eddie is back in the Taggart building cafeteria talking to his Mysterious Worker friend. Once again we only get Eddie's side of the conversation.
  • Yet again, Eddie spills the beans about everything to Mystery Worker.
  • He fills him in on the John Galt Line business and how they're coming along OK.
  • Someone named Dwight Sanders is helping them out, too, with diesel engines for their trains.
  • But Eddie is having problems being the VP, cause he feels it's dishonest. He's getting credit for work that Dagny is actually doing herself.
  • But he says that Dagny is cool with it all, which makes him feel better.
  • Mystery Worker apparently asks why Dagny decided to name her railroad the John Galt Line. Eddie doesn't like the name, but Mystery Worker does, which confuses Eddie.
  • Scene break. Dagny is working in a small, junky building across the street from the Taggart building. It's the John Galt Line headquarters.
  • It's late at night, and Dagny is tired and thinking Deep Thoughts about her life and how it's not what she'd pictured for herself.
  • She thinks about how she must have a soul mate out there somewhere.
  • Then she sees a mysterious shadow outside her office. It's a man, pacing and looking upset.
  • Dagny wonders what this guy is up to and waits to see what he'll do.
  • Shadow Guy finally walks off, and Dagny goes outside to see where he went, but he's gone.
  • All she sees is an open door across the street leading to the underground tunnels of the Taggart station. A clue.
  • Scene cut. Hank is meeting with Paul Larkin.
  • He's selling Paul his ore mines, since he is no longer allowed to own them.
  • Paul assures Hank that he'll still consider the ore mines Hank's and won't screw him over or anything.
  • Hank is having none of it – he's ticked off about the whole thing.
  • He tells Paul he doesn't want useless promises and wants Paul to conduct this like an actual business transaction.
  • Paul is confused by this.
  • Hank wants Paul to admit that he could double-cross Hank if he wants to and to acknowledge the situation for what it is.
  • Paul is still confused and thinks Hank is being rude.
  • Hank is peeved that Paul is acting like he's the victim in all of this. Granted, Hank just had his business practically stolen, but he was mean to Paul.
  • We get a contrast scene now. Hank has sold his coal mines to Ken Danagger, a cool guy in Pennsylvania. Ken is another one of the investors in the John Galt Line.
  • Ken promises Hank he'll give him a fair and square deal on his coal but that he won't just give it to him for free. Hank is glad to hear it, cause he's down with fairness.
  • Later Hank goes to New York and has a meeting with Eddie at the Wayne-Falkland Hotel.
  • Hank meets Eddie in his bathrobe over breakfast, revealing that he's pretty comfortable with him.
  • Hank asks Eddie how things are at Taggart Transcontinental and Eddie says not good.
  • They are short on funds and worried about having enough to pay everyone their salaries.
  • Hank agrees to give Eddie an extension for the Rearden Metal he's already shipped them.
  • Eddie is stunned and grateful.
  • Hank says he's just making a smart business decision – if Taggart Transcontinental goes bankrupt, he'll lose a big customer. He says they can pay him after the John Galt Line opens and they start making money again.
  • Eddie thanks Hank but says that he hates that James Taggart is going to benefit from this deal, too.
  • Hank tells Eddie to just ignore James cause he doesn't matter.
  • Scene cut! We get a rundown of public opinion and press coverage of the John Galt Line.
  • Everyone is predicting that the bridge in Colorado made of Rearden Metal will collapse.
  • People are also complaining about the Taggarts, calling them vultures. They say the Taggarts don't care about public safety and just want to make a profit.
  • We get some quotes from wannabe philanthropist Claude Slagenhop, TV journalist/steel mogul Orren Boyle, and angry blogger (er, journalist) Bertram Scudder about how Rearden Metal is going to kill everyone and how no one in their right mind would ride on the John Galt Line, since it's a death trap.
  • Someone took a random poll and no one said they would ride on the John Galt Line.
  • No one would publicly defend Rearden Metal, and people were buying Taggart stock before the line launched under aliases.
  • James publicly supports his sister, in front of the Board of Directors at least, but also continues to make rude comments about her.
  • Philip is excited by the prospect that Hank will fail for once.
  • Lillian tells Hank that there are rumors going around that he's having an affair with Dagny, which she laughs off. She says Dagny is practically "sexless" and that Hank is too much of a Puritan to have an affair.
  • James whines to Dagny about how unpopular the Taggarts are, but Dagny just laughs about it. Screw public opinion, she says.
  • The only people excited about the John Galt Line are the very young and the very old – in other words, people who aren't cynical.
  • The Line will open on July 22 and the first train will be a freight special –not a passenger train, but one hauling materials and cargo.
  • The Union of Locomotive Engineers doesn't want any union members to work on it, since they'll most likely die a horrible death.
  • Dagny says that if it will make him feel better, she'll draw up a contract saying that no union member can ever be employed on the John Galt Line. The guy quickly backpedals.
  • Dagny then says she'll ask for volunteers to work on the first train so that she won't be ordering anyone to certain doom and death.
  • We learn that Eddie's first name is Edwin.
  • Edwin sends out a memo asking for volunteers among Taggart employees who are willing to work on the train.
  • He then calls Dagny and is super excited.
  • Dagny goes over to the Taggart building and finds that every single Taggart Transcontinental engineer has volunteered to work on the first John Galt train. As many as could come are there in person to see Dagny.
  • Dagny is overwhelmed. One engineer yells, "to hell with James Taggart," and everyone starts cheering and clapping.
  • Dagny holds a lottery, and a man named Pat Logan wins. He's an engineer at their Nebraska Division and he's been with the company for a long time.
  • Dagny says she'll be riding in the cab of the engine on the first run, and the engineers say hooray.
  • Scene break! Dagny calls Hank and tells him that she wants to have a press conference.
  • Hank finds this hilarious.
  • A bunch of reporters crowd into Dagny's John Galt Line office.
  • Hank is there too, lounging on a chair.
  • Dagny reads of a list of statistics and technological facts about the John Galt Line and Rearden Metal. She then gives the reporters the Line's financial prospects. The end.
  • The reporters are confused and ask if she wants to send a message to the public.
  • Dagny says she just did.
  • Another reporter asks if she has anything to say about the allegations that the Line isn't safe.
  • Dagny says if people think that they shouldn't ride it.
  • Another reporter asks what was her motive for building the John Galt Line.
  • Dagny says she wanted to make money.
  • The reporters can't believe her bluntness and keep questioning her about her real meaning.
  • They then ask if she's sure she wants them to quote all of this. Dagny tells them to say that "Miss Taggart hopes to make a ton of money on the John Galt Line, end quote."
  • No reporters have any questions.
  • Dagny then tells them the details of the Line's opening day. She says the train will run a hundred miles per hour, which shocks the reporters.
  • They ask who in their right mind would conduct a train like that, and Dagny says she had to turn people away, actually, so there.
  • She then sarcastically tells the reporters to be sure to attend the grand opening, since the collapse of the bridge will be newsworthy and exciting.
  • Hank then butts in and says he'll be riding in the engine cab along with Dagny, and they share a Meaningful Look. Excitement.
  • Now it's July 22, opening day of the John Galt Line.
  • Dagny is elated. She's thrilled that her hard work has paid off and super excited about the first train ride to Wyatt Junction, Colorado.
  • Ellis apparently named a town after himself.
  • Eddie is there too, and he's practically overwhelmed by Dagny's awesomeness.
  • The train crew, Hank, and Dagny are all standing around for a photo op, looking goofily excited.
  • The reporters ask if they can try to look like they are going to their certain deaths, and everyone laughs.
  • As they all get on board, a reporter yells out to ask if Dagny can answer the who-is-John-Galt question.
  • Dagny tells them "we," meaning the train crew, are John Galt.
  • Eddie gets ready to cut the ceremonial ribbon in front of the train with a giant pair of scissors.
  • But then Eddie says he doesn't want the launch to be phony, so he tells Pat to start the engine, cuts the ribbon quickly, then leaps out of the way.
  • The train speeds by, and Dagny waves to Eddie from the window.
  • Train ride time! Lots of pretty descriptions of Colorado going by riding really, really fast.
  • Dagny is having a major life moment here. She is super happy.
  • Dagny is watching Hank and realizes that she has a huge crush on him and that she's liked him for a long time but just didn't realize it.
  • She's caught up in these thoughts when she notices all the people standing along the track to watch the train go by. She realizes that they are all wearing railroad caps. They are retired Taggart employees or the sons of employees who have come out to guard the train and to watch it pass.
  • Dagny is overwhelmed and starts laughing happily.
  • As they pass through stations, they see people waiting for them, waving and tossing flowers.
  • Dagny feels like she's living history.
  • Hank and Dagny gaze at each other.
  • Then they get further up in the mountains and the ride becomes very exciting and dangerous.
  • They cross the bridge with no problems.
  • They are heading west into the setting sun.
  • Dagny thinks about how great it is to be alive.
  • They finally pull into Wyatt Junction and Dagny hears Halley's Fifth Concerto in her mind.
  • Everyone in town has come to the station and people are cheering.
  • Dagny starts to climb down the ladder when someone yanks her off and whirls her around in the air. It's Ellis Wyatt.
  • Turns out the Colorado industrial crowd has come to see the train.
  • Dagny shakes hands with all the train's crew as flashbulbs go off.
  • Ellis leads her and Hank off and tells them that they are staying with him at his house tonight.
  • There's a party in town, but Ellis says he thought Dagny would like a quieter dinner instead, and she agrees.
  • At Casa Ellis the three have dinner and make excited plans for the future.
  • Ellis realizes he never actually introduced himself to Hank before kidnapping him and whisking him off to dinner, which is funny.
  • Ellis tells Hank he should move to Colorado, where all the cool kids are.
  • They continue talking late into the night.
  • Ellis has a bit of a moment and says they should enjoy it all while it lasts. But he shakes it off and tells Dagny not to worry.
  • He shows Hank and Dagny to the guest rooms and then heads off to bed.
  • Hank and Dagny have another Moment and then they have sex.

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