They don’t like to show emotion, but we can feel Hank and Dagny getting turned on by their banter over having to get that rail laid in only three quarters of the time she thought she had. He knows he’s got her by the balls. He’ll take an extra $20 per ton for his service…or more? She knows he won’t go higher. He needs to use her as a showcase.

He loves a girl with no illusions about favors. She wouldn’t have it any other way.

He wants to break her. But then who would he have? That’s why…she’s the only one worth working…

She starts to worry about Ellis. She can’t let a guy on his trajectory miss a beat. Hank’s not worried. Doesn’t he care? Why? He knows she’ll do it. She smiles.

Those awful looters make them sick, but they’ll prevail. They’ll just…work…harder…while the idiots all while away…

She watched his tall figure moving across the office. The office suited him; it contained nothing but the few pieces of furniture he needed, all of them harshly simplified down to their essential purpose, all of them exorbitantly expensive in the quality of materials and the skill of design. The room looked like a motor – a motor held within the glass case of broad windows. But she noticed one astonishing detail: a vase of jade that stood on top of a filing cabinet. The vase was a solid dark green stone carved into plain surfaces; the texture of its smooth curves provoked an irresistible desire to touch it. It seemed startling in that office, incongruous with the sternness of the rest; it was a touch of sensuality.

If we weren’t certain her panties were wet yet, we’d know for sure when he shows his vulnerability. He does care. She reads the freight reports. She knows.

And then the tease – of course he’s planning to build a factory there so he can cut out her transportation charges…

Go ahead. I’ll be satisfied with carrying your supplies, and the groceries for your workers…”

Yes. She said that. The freight will be so heavy she won’t miss his steel.

He laughs. We know he’s hard. She’s not like any of those other girls…

…and then they get lost in Jim…she doesn’t understand him. He’s worse than stupid. Hank tells her not to worry about silly things like him. He gets her talking about how she’d survive if he refused to give her rail. He know she’d find way. He’ll never let her down, though…not so long as he’s in business.

…She was wrong about him. He DOES have emotion! He shares her joy. He shares her passion. He is someone she can talk to. This is the type of human she’s been looking for.

Together they watch her Rearden Metal being made. They, alone, share the knowledge of how awesome it is. We can imagine her heart skipping a beat when she sees her “TT” etched into his better-than-steel. He tells her how fast she’ll be able to go on his hard line. She wants diesels next. He’s going for things that really fly…

Chicken wire. Kitchen ware. Ocean liners and telephone wires. He’s been testing his metal and he’s ready to prove it. There’s nothing he can’t make.

They spoke of the metal and of the possibilities which they could not exhaust. It was as if they were standing on a mountain top, seeing a limitless plain below and roads open in all directions. But they merely spoke of mathematical figures, of weights, pressures, resistances, costs.

She had forgotten her brother and his National Alliance. She had forgotten every problem, person and event behind her…

She feels alive.

He made a step back and said in a strange tone of dispassionate wonder, “We’re a couple of blackguards, aren’t we?”

“Why?”

“We haven’t any spiritual goals or qualities. All we’re after is material things. That’s all we care for.”

She doesn’t understand that and is incapable of feeling guilty about it. She worries for him though…there’s danger here for him. He wouldn’t say anything if it didn’t mean something…though he did state it as a simple matter of fact. She looks at him. Her apprehensions vanishes.

“Dagny,” he said, “whatever we are, it’s we who move the world and it’s we who’ll pull it through.”

Indeed!

The idea that’s been running around my head is this:

These are not “perfect people” in a “perfect world”….And the only people close to perfect in the book are Dagny and Hank. Hank maybe moreso, but neither of them are perfect.

They are gifted doers of reasonably pure heart who are surrounded by awful people. Cronyism, paternalism (Dagny is not in charge simply because she is the sister, not the brother), hypocricy, dishonesty, ingratitude, on and on…

…And one of the most irritating things about all of it is that they are the only ones trying to make everything work. Everyone else — at least the trolls blocking their paths — are indeed mooching. They have very little experience of honestly altruistic people. Heck, it’s possible that they may have such big walls up from being constantly obstructed and maligned that they couldn’t see a “good man of the cloth” if he came up and took their confessions.

These are not “perfect people” in a “perfect world”. These are fully frustrated people in a highly imperfect world who are fully isolated long before they finally give up and abandon society.

This is the story of what happens when the movers and shakers finally give up and decide to be as selfish and petulant as all the worthless idiots they are constantly holding up the walls for.

Ayn Rand THINKS she’s the only one thinking. Really she’s a frustrated, lonely, frigid witch who might earn some compassion if she wasn’t so cold.

She very astutely identifies a LOT of real problems. She generalizes WAY too far, and, idealizes her characters WAY too much, but she’s very good at identifying a whole boatload of wastes that deeply frustrate, and often undermine and gaslight awesome people.

She effectively leads us to the argument as to WHY purer socialism can’t work (the jerks will take over, please don’t give them that kind of mechanism/machine with which to control people, it’s better to decentralize so we can deal with the assholes in smaller, less powerful concentrations) — which she’s well positioned to deliver, being someone who left Russia right as they entered into that grave error, where corruption of her kind certainly continues to hold sway…

HOWEVER, WE now live in a world where the opposite side of that story can be told — crumbling cities, lost faith, apathy, fuck it all, not because of socialist croniess, but because of industrialist barons who have effectively been allowed to more or less take over the world, buy the government, shirk regulation and create their own machine…

Ayn Rand is such a problem because her characters say SEE YA! and abandon the whole lot. What we need in this world — as you mentioned — are SUPERHEROS. People who don’t give in and give it all up to the fools, but who — if they are ALL THAT — should stand up, inspire the masses, and make like the cartoon version end of Animal Farm and KICK ASS. Not the book version. That doesn’t end well, either…