Atlas Shrugged Volume 3, Chapter 5 Summary
Their Brothers' Keeper
- It's September 2. We get a rundown of disasters. Materials are hard to come by and things are breaking down all over the place.
- People are starving and the government is mismanaging everything and handing out favors. They are seizing things from one state and hauling them to another, and everyone is getting screwed over somehow.
- James has been hanging around Dagny more and more since Cherryl's death. He seems desperate for some sort of absolution, even though he won't admit that Cherryl's suicide was his fault.
- Dagny is disgusted with him and feels he's plotting to stab her in the back soon.
- James has a meeting with Dagny and yells at her for being uncooperative since she got back from wherever she was.
- Dagny tells James that he and his looter friends should just quit.
- James yells some more and says everything is Dagny's fault cause she should be taking care of him. He's weaker than her and she's not doing her job.
- Dagny calls him a bastard and tries to leave, but he insists she stay a while longer because there's a news broadcast he wants her to hear.
- It's a report from Santiago: we learn that d'Anconia Copper was nationalized, and at the instant the vote passed, all of its property was simultaneously blown up.
- So d'Anconia Copper is no more. James has a melt-down.
- Dagny leaves and has a celebratory dinner with Hank.
- They've been meeting and having dinner in public whenever he's in New York. People always stare at them now.
- The two discuss Francisco.
- She tells him she's met Ragnar, and they smile, knowing he was responsible for the explosions.
- Dagny then tells Hank that Francisco is one of the destroyer's "agents," and Hank confesses he's glad to know they sent someone to him the night Ken Danagger quit.
- We learn that there's a food crisis brewing: if farmers in Minnesota aren't able to finish their harvest and distribute their food throughout the country, there will be a famine this winter.
- Hank and Dagny says they'll work to save the country at least for one more winter.
- They look outside and see that the giant calendar on top of the building (remember, all the way back from Chapter 1?) has a message appearing on it.
- The message says: "Brother, you asked for it! Signed, Francisco d'Anconia." Hank bursts out laughing.
- Scene cut! Copper wires keep breaking, which is bad since there is no more copper.
- Dagny is struggling to make sure Minnesota has trains.
- Hank, meanwhile, is being courted by Washington, which sets off alarm bells for him.
- Philip comes in and asks Hank for a job.
- Hank says no, he won't just hire Philip out of charity, because Philip is useless.
- They debate for a long time. Hank pits his individualist values against Philip's looter values, which say that Hank is obligated to help him since they are brothers and Hank is stronger.
- Philip starts to threaten Hank with Washington intervention, but he backs down, realizing that he's scared of Hank and the steel mills. He leaves.
- Hank's divorce trial goes smoothly and he is a free man now.
- His attorney warns Hank to watch out because his trial went way too smoothly. It's suspicious.
- We get a scene with the Wet Nurse, who asks Hank for an honest job at the mills. Hank refuses him, saying the Wet Nurse would get in big trouble with Washington and he's glad the Wet Nurse sort of has his back there. The Wet Nurse confirms that something is afoot in Washington and tells Hank to be careful.
- New scene. We track a series of malfunctions and Dagny has to keep shifting supplies from one station or track to another in a desperate juggling act.
- Meanwhile, the government has dumped money into a soybean project that the late Kip Chalmers's mother supports.
- Would-be mobster Cuffy Meigs still hangs around Dagny's office. He carries a gun on him.
- The giant calendar is blank now. They couldn't fix it after Francisco's prank.
- Dagny gets a call that warns her that Minnesota hasn't gotten the trains they need and the crops are all rotting.
- Dagny and Eddie practically kill themselves trying to get trains moving to Minnesota. The trains were off hauling soybeans and other silly things.
- Despite their best efforts, the harvest is ruined and the soybeans are harvested too early. The country's food supply is destroyed.
- Scene cut. Dagny is at a fancy dinner business meeting with a bunch of looters: Ferris, Mouch, Meigs, James, Mr. Weatherby (whose first name is Clem), Lawson. It's the worst party ever.
- Dagny feels overdressed for the occasion and is uncomfortable in her pretty dress.
- The looters complain and spout off rhetoric, just like in every other scene ever featuring them.
- Dagny has a realization: these people are trying to turn back the clock to a time when people ran things by force and made everyone slaves. Dagny can't quite believe it.
- She's then called away – there's a problem at the Taggart Terminal.
- She makes a run for it and finds out that the circuit that controls all the signal lights is busted, and no one knows how to fix it.
- Dagny calls Chicago and has them send out their signal engineer, whom Dagny will pay out of her own pocket to fix the problem. He's the only decent engineer left, but he won't get there for a while.
- Dagny calls a company meeting and tells her employees that they're going to have to run the signals manually, like in the olden days. Workers will stand in the tunnels with lanterns and runners will pass messages to them letting them know what to do. It's depressing.
- Then Dagny spies a face she recognizes in the crowd of employees. It's John Galt!
- No wonder he was such a great stalker. Dagny realizes that he's been under her nose the whole time. She walks off to an out-of-the-way tunnel area and he follows her.
- They have sex on top of some sandbags.
- Afterward, John feels like speechifying. He confesses that he has been working at Taggart Transcontinental in a menial job for a decade and has been in love with Dagny, secretly watching her, the whole time.
- Is there anyone in this book who isn't in love with Dagny? Raise your hand.
- He also gives Dagny kudos on her radio speech and says he isn't jealous at all about her relationship with Hank.
- Dagny says she loves him.
- John then tells her they can't see each other until this is all over, one way or another, and either he or Dagny is proved right. He tells her not to look for him because she could put him in danger, since the looters would love to get their hands on him.
- If Dagny decides she is ready to join the strike, all she needs to do is draw a dollar sign on Nat Taggart's statue. At that signal, Galt will come whisk her away in 24 hours.
- They part, and Dagny is heartbroken to leave him.
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