Study Guide

Atlas Shrugged Volume 2, Chapter 4

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Volume 2, Chapter 4

The Sanction of the Victim

  • Yet another chapter title shout-out, this time to an upcoming line from Hank.
  • It's Thanksgiving at the Rearden House. We get a run-down of how much money the Reardens (Lillian) blew on Thanksgiving while other people are starving.
  • Thanksgiving dinner: overpriced. Time with the Rearden clan: priceless.
  • Or not worthless, in Hank's opinion.
  • The Reardens start going off on Hank about his trial, saying that he's being selfish and stupid and should think of what would happen to them if their primary breadwinner gets hauled off to jail.
  • Philip tells Hank that the age of heroes is over and he needs to get with the program and cooperate with Washington.
  • Hank begins to realize that he's giving them power over him, the "sanction of the victim," by letting them verbally abuse him all the time.
  • He tries to figure out Lillian – she seems unusually happy since finding out about his affair, like she's won something. But he pulls back before totally condemning her for being a manipulative monster.
  • Philip does more political ranting and Hank finally tells him to shut up or get out of his house.
  • Mama Rearden and Lillian are stunned and they all protest.
  • Hank says Philip is an adult and Hank is paying for him. Philip can either show Hank respect or get out of his house.
  • Hank then says he's leaving for New York.
  • During his drive he recalls a recent conversation with the Wet Nurse, who is starting to question his Washington crowd more and more.
  • He then thinks about how Dagny is struggling to keep the railroad running and how screwed the country is.
  • He goes to Dagny's office and finds her hard at work.
  • He tells her not to worry about his trial, because he has a plan. The two have a quiet little Thanksgiving celebration together.
  • Scene cut! It's the day of the trial. We learn that since Ken Danagger went away, the country has been hard-up for coal, and times are bad.
  • The courtroom is packed and the trial will be broadcast over the radio.
  • Hank is being tried by a panel of three judges.
  • Hank channels his inner Jack McCoy and delivers a Smackdown Courtroom Address.
  • In a nutshell: Hank says he doesn't recognize the court's right to try him. He calls the government out for being a bunch of corrupt thugs. He says he doesn't recognize their right to force him to work for them, and if they want his property they'll have to take it by force. He says he works for himself and thinks their moral system is garbage.
  • The courtroom goes wild with applause.
  • The judges quickly backpedal and insist they are Hank's friends, but he's not having it.
  • The verdict comes in: Hank is fined a few thousand bucks and can leave.
  • On his way out people praise him and also beg him to save them.
  • Hank is on an emotional high.
  • Scene cut. Hank is with Dagny and they are both thrilled about sticking it to the looters.
  • Later, after a frustrating meeting with some idiot businessmen, Hank decides he wants to see Francisco. He goes to the Wayne-Falkland hotel to track him down.
  • Hank barges in on Francisco with some sort of engineering design scheme that Francisco quickly covers up.
  • He's stunned to see Hank.
  • Hank wants to hear more from Francisco about his beliefs, but Francisco says it's still too soon.
  • Hank tries to talk out his own ideas about the sanction of the victim. Francisco says Hank is close to getting it, but he's still missing the point with his personal life.
  • It's time for Francisco's Let's Talk About Sex speech.
  • In a nutshell: Sex isn't a bad thing and is actually an expression of people's deepest values. People who have good values and have sex with people they love and admire are good. People who think sex is bad and sleep around indiscriminately are bad and have bad morals. According to his speech, sex is what you make it; it ought to be a good thing and not shameful. He says only people who have bad values and who hate themselves have indiscriminate sex. Finally he confesses that he's never slept with any of the women he's been seen with and that he just lets people think he's a playboy.
  • Hank realizes that he's made a mistake with how he views his relationship with Dagny.
  • Ironic conversation time! Francisco confesses he's only loved one woman in his life, that he still loves her and hopes they'll be together again someday. Hank says best of luck on that. Ah, the irony – they both love Dagny!
  • Hank then tells Francisco that he intends to outlast the looters and hang in there for his decent customers. He says Francisco will help him and confesses that he's ordered a huge batch of copper from d'Anconia Copper.
  • Francisco freaks out and yells at him. He swears by the woman he loves that he's still Hank's friend, even though Hank is going to hate him soon.
  • Later we find out that Ragnar, our favorite pirate, sank the ship carrying Hank's copper shipment. Hank hates Francisco now and wants to kill him.

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