Study Guide

Atlas Shrugged Volume 3, Chapter 3

By Ayn Rand

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Volume 3, Chapter 3


  • Callback time! The title of this chapter is a reference to a line that Gwen Ives said way, way back.
  • Robert Stadler is in Iowa and is wondering why.
  • Dr. Ferris tells him he's here to witness a historic occasion: Project X is being unveiled and tested today.
  • Ferris spouts off some rhetoric and runs off to talk to some reporters.
  • There are tons of Washington people and journalists milling around near bleachers set up in an empty field.
  • In the distance is a farmhouse with some goats milling around.
  • Stadler feels nervous for some reason.
  • Radio speeches begin. A radio broadcast will cover the test live.
  • Without warning, Ferris drags Stadler onstage and shoves a microphone in his face. He tells the audience that Stadler is responsible for Project X and says he'll answer questions.
  • Stadler doesn't know what Project X is. He hesitates for a moment but then starts saying meaningless things about how great Project X is. Failure.
  • Ferris then gives a speech before the test starts.
  • Project X is an experiment using sound waves – a weapon that will make America secure from its enemies.
  • The audience members on the bleachers are given binoculars so they can watch the farmhouse.
  • As Ferris speaks, Stadler watches the goats frolic about and eat grass.
  • There's a cute baby goat with its mother.
  • Ferris rambles on and on disturbingly and Stadler notices that the goats are tied to stakes in the ground. Then is not boding well.
  • Project X will now be renamed the Thompson Harmonizer. It will be a machine of peace and security.
  • Stadler is still watching the goats.
  • The machine is turned on and the test begins.
  • Run, goats, save yourselves!
  • Within an instant the farmhouse is blown to smithereens and the goats are tossed in the air and killed.
  • The audience is totally freaked out, and then things get even more disturbing. All of them are hauled up to the radio microphone to tell the world how wonderful Project X is and how they witnessed a great thing today.
  • Stadler pulls Ferris aside to confront him and they argue about the nature of science and modern politics. Ferris tells Stadler to get with the program. Everything is about power now, and this machine means that they have power.
  • Stadler is then handed a written statement and reads it into the radio microphone. He talks about how proud he is of his project.
  • Scene cut! Dagny is back in the real world and feeling totally disoriented.
  • She makes her way to an airport. On the way she sees an ad Hank Rearden placed offering a huge reward if someone can find out exactly what happened to her.
  • At the airport Dagny finds a reporter and tells him she's alive and to get out the news.
  • Dagny's story is that she was injured in the plane crash. A couple rescued her but they didn't have a car or a phone so she had to wait and heal before she could hike to find transportation.
  • She tires to call Hank but gets Miss Ives instead. Miss Ives is thrilled that Dagny is all right and says that Hank is out searching for her. Dagny leaves him a message at his hotel.
  • The hotel switchboard puts her through to Hank, who gets the shock of his life when he hears her on the phone.
  • Hank is overcome with emotion. Dagny says she'll explain it all later and that she'll see him soon in New York.
  • Dagny makes it home and heads to her office. Eddie is glad to see her.
  • There's a man named Cuffy Meigs there running things. He looks like a thug and acts like a fool.
  • She ignores him and Eddie fills her in on how bad things are now.
  • James comes to see her and is less than exuberant about her being alive.
  • But he is relieved that she is back, since James is inept.
  • James discusses the new Railroad Unification Plan that pooled all the railroads together. Basically the bigger ones have now stolen tracks from smaller railroads and are using them for free.
  • James has freakout number 922 and yells about how none of this is his fault and how people are panicking and the country is going to pieces Which isn't his fault. At all. He's just saying.
  • He spouts off some rhetoric and Dagny finally throws him out.
  • Then Lillian Rearden comes to see her. This is turning out to be the worst homecoming ever.
  • Lillian gets right down to the blackmailing. If Dagny doesn't give a radio address tonight to reassure the country, Lillian will spill the beans about her affair with Hank. Then she tells her why Hank signed the Gift Certificate.
  • Dagny is not happy, but says she'll do the radio address and tells Lillian to go away. Lillian, we feel that you are about to get owned.
  • Scene cut. Dagny is at the radio station with our favorite angry journalist, Bertram Scudder.
  • Scudder is rambling about how great Dagny is and how she's going to reassure everyone.
  • Dagny is on. In more ways than one. She kicks things off by saying that she's going to tell everyone the truth about the government and the economy. Then she admits that she had an affair with Hank Reardon for years and that she's not ashamed of it. In fact, she's proud of it. She says Hank was blackmailed into cooperating with the government. Then they pull the plug on her speech.
  • Everyone in the studio is freaking out hilariously.
  • Dagny just walks out and takes a cab home. The cabbie tells her good job on the radio.
  • Hank then comes to see Dagny. We think this will be painful.
  • Hank takes a page out of Francisco's book and makes an Epic and Noble Declaration of Love and Forgiveness. It's Kleenex-box worthy.
  • Dagny runs up to Hank and they embrace. She starts sobbing and he calms her down.
  • Dagny tries to apologize for what Hank suffered, and Hank says it was nothing compared to what he let her go through during her radio address.
  • He then says he loves her and tells her all about his epiphany and how he realized his values had gotten messed up. He explains the emotional journey he's been on and tells her that he needs forgiveness from Francisco for what he did.
  • Then he tells Dagny that he's sorry for what he put her through and for everything she had to deal with from him during their affair.
  • Hank tells her that the first step for the New and Improved Hank Rearden is to tell her he loves her. He says he understands that she moved on while she was gone.
  • Dagny confesses that she's met the man she's been searching for all her life. Hank says it's all OK and that he knows they'll always love each other. He's happy just to have Dagny in his life.
  • Dagny then tells Hank in vague terms about her time in Galt's Atlantis. He guesses a lot and realizes that all their friends are safe somewhere. Hank says he's not ready to leave yet and that he and Dagny will hang in there as a team.
  • Dagny thinks about Galt and believes that she'll probably never see him again.

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