Study Guide

Owen Kellogg in Atlas Shrugged

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Owen Kellogg

Owen has the distinction of being the very first striker we meet, although we don't realize it at the time. In fact, for a long time we're not really sure what this guy's deal is. When Dagny offers him a promotion, he quits to go load equipment onto trucks and work as a transient laborer.

We finally realize he's involved somehow with the people who are disappearing, but we still don't get what exactly he's doing until Dagny crashes is Answer Land, otherwise known as Atlantis.

Dagny shares a very important scene with Owen just before she chases after Quentin in a plane. She meets Owen by chance on a frozen train and the two set off into the night to find a telephone. As they walk, Dagny grills Owen and tries to figure out his motives. He gives us some interesting clues into his philosophy and his links to the strike:

She noticed that Kellogg, too, stood looking back at the headlight.

They glanced at each other, but said nothing.... With a coldly intentional movement, he kicked the telephone instrument and sent it rolling into a ditch; the violence of the noise shattered the vacuum.

"God damn him," he said evenly, not raising his voice, with a loathing past any display of emotion. "He probably didn't feel like attending to his job, and since he needed his pay check, nobody had the right to ask that he keep the phones in order."

"Come on," she said.

"We can rest if you feel tired, Miss Taggart."

"I'm all right. We have no time to feel tired."

"That's our great error, Miss Taggart. We ought to take the time, some day."

There's a ton going on in this scene. We see evidence of the camaraderie between Dagny and Owen here – both seem to feel the headlight is a beacon of safety in the darkness, for instance. Owen also expresses a lot of Galt's value system here: he gets angry at incompetence and the idea of rewarding "need," and he suggests the importance of taking time to feel things and to be yourself.

Owen is also an interesting figure in that he is one of the strikers who still lives most of the year in the outside world. Unlike the Colorado crowd, who had to flee to Atlantis to avoid government reprisals for quitting, Owen only spends one month a year there. His display of violent anger is reminiscent of Ellis Wyatt before Ellis came to Atlantis. Clearly, it's hard to live as a striker in the outside world.

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