Study Guide

Atlas Shrugged Volume 1, Chapter 2

By Ayn Rand

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Volume 1, Chapter 2

The Chain

  • This chapter has nothing to do with the Fleetwood Mac song, as far as we can tell.
  • Fun fact: the title refers to a line that one of our characters will say at the end of the chapter. Tons of chapter titles in this book reference lines from characters, so we'll be on the lookout for them.
  • Random people are riding a Taggart train through Pennsylvania and they see some lights out the window. Turns out it's the Rearden Steel mills. We're guessing we'll be meeting Henry (Hank) Rearden shortly.
  • Exciting stuff is going down at Rearden Steel tonight: the very first batch of Rearden Metal is being poured.
  • There's a handsome blond man watching the metal being poured. Who could it be?
  • Your first two guesses don't count, cause it's totally Hank Rearden.
  • Hank is in a pensive, thoughtful, mood. He's worked on developing his super awesome metal for ten years, which is a long time, if you ask us.
  • He has a bracelet of the metal in his pocket.
  • He considers everything in his life that has led up to this moment of triumph – all the hard work and late nights – and how he hopes everyone will be using his metal in the future.
  • Hank normally doesn't dwell on the past, but he lets himself ponder it tonight, since it's such a momentous occasion.
  • He recalls his start as a miner in Minnesota – how he nearly gave up one night because he was so tired, but forced himself to keep going. He faced down lots of doubters and haters over the years. Go Hank!
  • The metal that was just poured is going to be used for the Taggart Transcontinental railways.
  • We learn that Hank plans to give the bracelet in his pocket to his wife.
  • Hank is in a great mood and wants to talk with someone, because he's so excited. He thinks he needs a giant electrical Rearden Life sign to proclaim his awesomeness to the world.
  • He quickly comes down from his high, though, once he gets home to his family: his mom, his brother Philip, a guy named Paul Larkin, and his wife Lillian.
  • These people proceed to prove how awful they are. First, they call Hank Henry.
  • Second, they complain about how he's late and groan that Henry always causes problems by being a workaholic.
  • Hank tries not to get too frustrated by his obnoxious family.
  • They all continue to complain to Hank. Lillian mocks him, his mother scolds him, and Philip goes all preachy and talks about how Hank is an evil capitalist or something.
  • Lillian mentions a party she wants to give on December 10, which is their wedding anniversary. Hank had forgotten that fact, so he might have some of his family's ill-will coming.
  • Hank announces that he poured the first batch of Rearden Metal, but his family couldn't care less. They are rather vocal about this and make fun of him for being a conceited workaholic.
  • Lillian even mocks the bracelet that Hank gives her. Clearly, she is evil.
  • Hank tries to figure out why his family is so awful and why he doesn't like them at all. Psst, Hank! The two things are related! Don't worry, you'll work it out in about 800 pages.
  • Paul Larkin pipes up and warns Hank that he's not popular, which is very bad.
  • Hank says he's not running for Prom King and he doesn't care.
  • Larkin tries to hint that people in Washington (politicians) could start causing problems for Hank and his created-by-fairies-miracle-metal, but Hank is clueless.
  • Philip starts complaining about his hard day of unemployment. It seems that Philip "works" for an organization called Friends of Global Progress (which sounds about as legit as George's fake People Fund charity on Seinfeld.)
  • Apparently, the Friends of Global Progress distribute folk music and promote cooperative farming ideas around the world. They're having trouble raising money.
  • Philip whines and insults Hank until Hank agrees to give FoGP some money. But then Philip asks Hank to leave his name off the check, since the FoGP consider Hank and evil industrialist and don't really want his money. They'll take it, though.
  • Lillian then uses her Rearden Metal and says something to the effect that Hank keeps the family in chains with all his money.

Atlas Shrugged Volume 1, Chapter 2 Study Group

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