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.”

We meet Hank Rearden, our proposed beacon of unappreciated light.

A nameless professor of economics muses, “Of what importance is an individual in the titanic collective achievements of our industrial age?”

A journalist notes, “Hank Reardon is the kind of man who sticks his name on everything he touches. You may, from this, form your own opinion about the character of Hank Reardon.”

We read that, “Ever since he could remember, he had been told that his face was ugly, because it was unyielding and cruel, because it was expressionless.”

Hank Rearden has lived a focused and driven life. He has sacrificed everything, overcome exhaustion, and accomplished much. He wants to be loved for his achievements; his building of an empire that produces steel where no-one else could, and his search for a newer, better material.

Today, he poured the first order of a new metal that everyone said was impossible to make, and then everyone apparently agreed never to use. He stood silently alone watching the metal pour, with apparently only one guy – still distant – who acknowledged his triumph with a silent salute.

We get the idea that he dutifully supports his family, including his mother and brother, and gets nothing in return. It is suggested that what they offer – human connection – would not be valued by Hank even if they didn’t seem so shallow and spiteful in their practice of it.

Outspoken in her resentment of his material focus, his mother nags that he’s a selfish, selfish man. At the very least, it seems, he has neglected to invest his time in their concerns. It seems that Hank might have conveniently forgotten dinner with this mother’s friend, more than got caught up in his triumph. This friend, we read, organizes underprivileged youth to learn craftsmanship. One wonders why he wouldn’t support that if he values people being put to some industry, particularly one that might use his metal. Perhaps their industry isn’t self-driven enough. Perhaps he feels the effort is a waste of time that is beyond his concern. We are generally asked to agree that his family’s interests – this woman and the children she teaches, his wife’s social engagements — are empty vanities compared to his substantive life. They, in turn, find his passion unsophisticated.

“…it’s just that a man of culture is bored with the alleged wonders of purely material ingenuity.”

Thus, we are offered an opposition: Those of material things, which Rand argues are all that matter; and those of human relations which, it is suggested, are baseless figments of value. His mother is mad because he broke a promise.  One gets the impression that he often says, “Yeah, sure. I’ll be there,” and then doesn’t. Based on the conversation with his wife who asks if he can possibly commit three months in advance to their wedding anniversary, it is possible that he consistently warns that he won’t commit and they just assume he should and hold him to it, anyway.

Perhaps a phone call was in order today. One might think that even a self-absorbed man would have made that call, just to allow himself the luxury of uttering the words of his accomplishment but, he didn’t. Instead, he walked leisurely home through the dark countryside savoring his feat.

“…he despised memories as a pointless indulgence. But then he understood that he thought of them tonight in honor of the piece of metal in his pocket. Then he permitted himself to look…”

We are offered a montage of empire building. We are brought to understand that this new innovation is apparently ultimately Hank Rearden’s alone…

“…the nights spent in the workshop of his home, over sheets of paper which he filled with formulas, then tore up in angry failure”

“ …the days when the young scientists of the small staff he had chosen to assist him waited for instructions like soldiers ready for a hopeless battle, having exhausted their ingenuity, still willing, but silent, with the unspoken sentence hanging in the air: ‘Mr. Rearden, it can’t be done.’”

We are led to believe the accomplishment was all his; that he’s the only one of value here and that is why – even more than the passion and the joy of accomplishment and the self-identification that Hank has in his work – that is why his name should shine in giant letters above all his factories:

“He thought of the days behind him. He wished it were possible to light a neon sign above them saying: Rearden Life.”

 

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