Study Guide

Atlas Shrugged Volume 2, Chapter 2

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Volume 2, Chapter 2

The Aristocracy of Pull

  • This chapter title references an upcoming line of Francisco's.
  • It's September 2. Things are still getting worse, and everyone who's anyone from Colorado has gone MIA.
  • One man is left: Ted Nielsen of Nielsen Motors.
  • Ted talks with Dagny – he's worried and can't understand why all his friends left, or where they went. He says his friend Roger Marsh asked to be chained to his desk and he disappeared a few weeks later.
  • Ted promises to leave Dagny a note if he goes so she won't worry.
  • But then he leaves, and there's no note. Thanks a lot, Ted.
  • Dagny meets Quentin Daniels, a young scientist. He is cool and is not a fan of Stadler, so she hires him to work on figuring out her Mystery Motor. Quentin will work out of his home in Utah.
  • Dagny is about to head off to James's wedding. Huh? Who's the bride?
  • On her way out, Dagny runs into her friend the Newsstand Man. He tells her that, as far as he can tell, the cigarette with the dollar sign wasn't manufactured anywhere on the planet. John Galt and his crew are aliens! It's like the V pilot or something.
  • Scene cut. Ken Danagger and Hank are having a secret meeting in New York.
  • Ken complains about how Washington stinks and Hank agrees to sell him, super secretly, some Rearden Metal.
  • Ken says peace out and then Lillian bursts in. Fail.
  • Lillian is going to James's wedding, of course, and basically orders Hank to come with her.
  • He is very reluctant, since he doesn't want to run into Dagny while he's with Lillian.
  • Scene cut. Cherryl Brooks is in her wedding dress. Guess she's the bride! Our condolences.
  • She's at her apartment and the only person there is a lame news columnist who is pretty much her only "friend."
  • History of Cherryl and James: James started hanging around with Cherryl more and more and Cherryl felt honored by his attention.
  • One night he took her to a fancy party. Cherryl blew her savings on a nice dress that turned out to be not the right sort of dress for the party. People were laughing at her but she held her head high.
  • Afterwards Cherryl apologized to James for embarrassing him, and he proposed. A stunned Cherryl accepted.
  • The news media began stalking her after that. James made her stay in her apartment in the slums so all the headlines could talk about the poor Cinderella girl that James was so generously helping.
  • Cherryl was a bit uneasy about things, but still awed that James was marrying her.
  • Scene cut. It's the wedding reception.
  • James is speechifying about communism and how money is evil. Cherryl is standing around looking stunned and whispering how happy she is. She seems very confused and lonely.
  • The crowd is a who's who of the looters. Everyone there either has James's protection or is seeking it. They are all about trading favors and being otherwise shady. As in the wedding in The Godfather, business is always mixed in with everything.
  • James and his BFF Orren Boyle are talking.
  • They have one of their patented Non-Threatening Sounding (But Really Threatening) Conversations.
  • They are both making a bid for Wesley Mouch, head of the Economic Planning Bureau, and his favors. Orren warns James to watch his back. Wesley isn't at the reception, which sends a message to James that he may be falling out of favor.
  • Cherryl meanwhile thinks it's great that James has so many friends and is so respected.
  • She spies Dagny. She goes up and tells her that she dislikes her on James's behalf and that she is the head Taggart woman now, so there. Dagny says whatever.
  • Hank comes in with Lillian. He is totally miserable and wonders what he's doing there.
  • Lillian heads over to chat with James.
  • She smugly tells him that she hauled Hank here and that she can make him do anything she wants, so if James needs something he can let her know.
  • James and Lillian size each other up and each decide the other is evil and cool.
  • James confesses that he wishes he had control over his sister, and they discuss how she seems to have no weaknesses (i.e. affairs) to use against her. Ah, the irony.
  • Lillian goes to talk to Dagny. She confronts her about wearing the Rearden Metal bracelet.
  • Dagny refuses to give it back to Lillian.
  • Lillian tells Dagny that people will jump to the wrong conclusion about her if she keeps wearing it and assume she's sleeping with Hank. Dagny brushes her off coolly and basically owns Lillian in the scene. Game, set, match.
  • Hank ambles up and makes Lillian apologize for accusing Dagny of having an affair with him.
  • Looters are chatting when suddenly Francisco pops up! He's the ultimate party crasher.
  • James and Francisco chat. Francisco mocks him and fills us in on his business situation: turns out James and his looter friends own tons of d'Anconia Copper stock due to a dirty deal with government men in Chile. James freaks when Francisco mentions this out loud.
  • Francisco then sidles up to Dagny and reminds her that John Galt is coming soon to claim his railroad in Colorado. Dagny is not happy and wants him to go away.
  • Francisco chats with some random people and then launches into one of the book's epic speeches: The Money Speech.
  • In a nutshell: Money is good. It's the product of a free, hardworking people. Civilized people deal in trade and with money; without money, people would resort to violence and guns. Always be wary of people who hate money. America is about making yourself by making money. That's a good thing, but America needs to watch out for looters. The end.
  • That probably wasn't what people had in mind for a wedding reception toast.
  • Everyone at the party complains about how awful a speech it was.
  • Francisco then goes to talk to Hank.
  • He tries to get Hank to guess who the guiltiest person in the room is and hints that it's someone who lies to himself. Hank guesses wrong. He says James, then Francisco himself.
  • Francisco's talking about you, Hank!
  • Francisco gives him some advice: never do business with d'Anconia Copper.
  • Francisco then says tomorrow a fire will destroy lots of d'Anconia property and the d'Anconia stock is going to crash. He's a fortune teller!
  • He then stages a hilariously mean scene – he loudly begs Hank to lend him some money, making sure a guy overhears him.
  • The guy comes to question Francisco and Francisco lets him in on a "secret" – that his business has gone bad and is about to crash. Tough luck for the stock owners!
  • The guy runs off and basically incites a riot at the wedding reception.
  • The only calm people in the fray are Hank, Dagny, and Francisco, who watch each other across the room.

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