Chapter II — Part III

January 29, 2016

At this point in the book, we meet Philip Larkin, a visitor who apparently clings to Hank in hope that his success will rub off. Philip warns Hank of the need for a better man in Washington, “I just…I just hope you don’t run into trouble.”

“What trouble?”

The response is ominous yet weak…“Oh, I don’t know…the way things are nowadays, there’s people who…but how can we tell?….anything can happen…”

There is some back and forth…Hank wants people to value the metal. Larkin stresses the importance of the public valuing him. Larkin then presents the public’s case against him: That he is out to individually control and profit from his endeavors. “They” think he’s “Intractable, that you’re ruthless. That you won’t allow anyone any voice in the running of your mills. That your only goal is to make steel and to make money.”

However, Rand is not painting the picture of a guy who makes profit at all costs. Rather, the character appears to be wrongfully maligned for having offered a critically important innovation that the rest of the world disdains for no good reason. He is resented for pursuing his dream, making things work, and seeking rightful payment for his product. He is not accused of any real abuses, human, environmental, or otherwise. People hate him simply because he is focused and works hard, because he wants control over his product and processes, because he seeks fair pay, and because he proudly plasters his name on everything he has built.

We are to forgive Hank’s emotional absence. We are to believe that he somehow miraculously created this material despite the worthlessness of everyone else around him. We are to cheer Hank on for not caring what “they” think. We are to recognize his humanity in his gift of cash to Philip, despite the insult of his refusing a check emblazoned with his name; a name that Hank has invested his life in making valuable.

Hank, apparently, just wants Philip to be happy. We are to find it tragic that the sentiment is not returned.

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