Study Guide

Dr. Hendricks in Atlas Shrugged

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Dr. Hendricks

A famous surgeon who joined the strike early on, Dr. Hendricks cares for Dagny after she is injured in her plane crash and also gives us some interesting information about the state of health care in the country. Hendricks's story is pretty interesting. Here's what Hendricks says about his reasons for quitting:

"Do you know what it takes to perform a brain operation? Do you know the kind of skill it demands, and the years of passionate, merciless, excruciating devotion that go to acquire the skill? That was what I could not place at the disposal of men whose sole qualifications to rule me was their capacity to spout the fraudulent generalities that got them elected to the privilege of enforcing their wishes at the point of a gun." (

Like the other strikers, Hendricks felt that he couldn't practice his work effectively in the real world. However, Hendricks in particular raises some tricky ethical issues about the nature of the strike. His innovative research could save many lives, but he is effectively withholding it from people during the strike. Are Hendricks' actions moral? Is he breaking the doctor's Hippocratic Oath? Regardless of your opinion – and we could see arguments going either way here – Hendricks as a character gives us insight into a profession that isn't dealt with much in the novel (medicine) and he also brings up some interesting questions about the strike as a whole.

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