Study Guide

Mr. Ward in Atlas Shrugged

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Mr. Ward

Mr. Ward only appears in one scene in the book, but it is an important one. Mr. Ward is one of the book's many snapshot characters, meaning characters that we get a quick picture of in a small scene. Often characters like this represent a certain idea or stand in for a larger group of people. In Mr. Ward's one and only scene he asks Hank for any Rearden Metal he can spare. Ward is one of the early victims of the country's economic and industrial decline, as well as looter incompetence. Thanks to Orren Boyle, Ward doesn't get the steel he needs to run his business, so he comes to Hank quite desperate for help:

"You know, Mr. Rearden, I don't like people who talk too much about how everything they do is just for the sake of others. It's not true, and I don't think it would be right if it were true. So I'll say that what I need the steel for is to save my own business. Because it's mine. Because if I had to close it...." (

Mr. Ward helps put the looters' regime in perspective. We sympathize with Hank's struggle, but the crisis really hits home when we read about someone like Mr. Ward, who is about to go out of business because he can't get materials. He has to resort to begging for handouts, while trying to maintain some shred of dignity. Mr. Ward is present when Hank learns about the Equalization of Opportunity Bill, which is a crushing blow to Hank. Mr. Ward's reaction demonstrates the kind of decent small businessman he is. It's also interesting that we don't just get Hank's immediate reaction to the Bill; we also get a reaction from someone who will be indirectly impacted by it, showing us the ripple effect of disastrous looter policies.

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