TUESDAY, January 5, 2010 7:00 PM

Explore Atlas Shrugged  Session 1
Podcasts and ┬ádiscussion questions on Ayn Rand’s epic novel Atlas Shrugged
We will discuss the questions and listen to the podcast.

Atlas Shrugged, Part 1, Chapters 1-3
Part 1: Chapter 1: The Theme
Part 1: Chapter 2: The Chain
Part 1: Chapter 3: The Top and the Bottom
Pages 1-63 in the larger Hardcover or Softcover
Pages 9-67 in the smaller Mass Market Paperback

These discussion questions and podcast were prepared by Diana Hsieh for
ExploreAtlasShrugged.com for people interested in creating their own Atlas
Shrugged Reading Groups, as well as for anyone wishing to study the novel in
more depth. They may be freely used for the study and discussion of Atlas
Shrugged, provided that this paragraph remains intact in any reproduction.

(Extra questions are marked with a dash.) The listed page numbers are for the
larger edition, softcover or hardback.

Section 1 (3-12)

What is the state of the world? What is Eddie Willers’ response to it? How is
that world similar to and different from the world of today? (3-6, 11-12)

– What is the meaning of the oak tree? Why does Eddie remember it as he walks
through the city? (5)

As children, how do Eddie and Dagny differ in their understanding of “the best
within us”? What is Eddie’s view of morality? (6)

– What is Eddie’s view of Ellis Wyatt? Why doesn’t Jim share that view? Who is
right? (9-10)

What are Jim’s methods of dealing with problems on the railroad? How is
Eddie’s approach different? How do those differences reflect each person’s
moral character? (7-11)

Section 2 (12-17)

How does Dagny’s response to the stalled train differ from that of the crew?
What qualities of character does she reveal? What does that suggest about the
state of Taggart Transcontinental — and the wider culture? (15-7)
– What is Dagny’s attitude toward her emotions? Is that right or wrong? (13,

Section 3 (17-18)

What is Dagny’s emotional response on entering the Taggart terminal? What does
she feel about her work? Is that unusual? Is that good? Why or why not?
Section 4 (18-26)

Why doesn’t Jim want to buy rail from Hank Rearden, particularly not rail made
of Rearden Metal? How does he attempt to prevent Dagny from doing so? Why —
and how — does Dagny insist on doing so? Who is right — and why? (18-24)
Whole Chapter

What is the significance of the title of this chapter?

Part 1, Chapter 2: The Chain

Section 1 (27-43)

Is the pouring of the first heat of Rearden Metal an accomplishment worthy of
notice and esteem? Why don’t most people notice and esteem it? How does
Rearden respond to the worker who does? How is that response unusual for
Rearden? (27-32)

When Rearden returns home after pouring his first heat of Rearden Metal, what
does he want from his family? How do they treat him? Why? How does he respond
to them? Why? (29-43)

Why does Hank Rearden offer his brother Philip the donation for Friends of
Global Progress? How does Philip respond — and why? Was offering the
donation a mistake on Hank’s part? Why? (41-3)

Does Hank have an obligation to support his family? Should he share his wealth
with them? Does he owe them affection or attention? Why or why not? (29-43)

Whole Chapter

What is the significance of the title of this chapter?

Part 1, Chapter 3: The Top and the Bottom

Section 1 (44-50)

What is the deal that James Taggart and Orren Boyle make? Why don’t they they
speak of it openly — and what moral claims do they use to conceal it?

Are the four men at the meeting — James Taggart, Orren Boyle, Wesley Mouch,
and Paul Larkin — defenders of capitalism? Why or why not? (44-50)
Section 2 (50-62)

What is the basic history of the San Sebastian Line? Why was Dagny opposed to
it? How did Jim convince the Board of Directors to approve it? Why did Dagny
build it?

How is Dagny now protecting Taggart Transcontinental from the San Sebastian
Line? Why does she fear its nationalization? (54-8)

What is the basic story of Nat Taggart? Why does Dagny feel reverence for him?
Why does she regret that he is an ancestor? (59-60)
Section 3 (62-63)

What information about himself, Dagny, and the railroad does Eddie reveal to
the railroad worker? (62-3)

Whole Chapter

What is the significance of the title of this chapter?

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