tommyedison

John Galt VS the other ideal men

23 posts in this topic

Although Ayn Rand said that John Galt, Francisco D'anconia, Howard Roark, Hank Rearden, all were her projections of the ideal man, I have always felt that there was something in John Galt that was better than the others. I don't have many intellectual arguments to back this up, this is primarly a feeling for which I am looking for the answers. Some incidents in AS which made me feel so

- During Francisco's conversation with Rearden after his trial, Francisco says (paraphrasing)

It's been twelve years and yet I'm unable to look at it indifferently
(Francisco had asked Rearden about the reaction of his fellow businessmen). I don't think Galt would have had this reaction

- Galt is always much more perceptive than others. For example, when Francisco asks Dagny to spend the last week with him and Galt refuses, Dagny's voice suddenly brightens. Francisco takes the change in her attitude as proof that the previous incident was of no significance whatsoever but Galt understands

- Galt, it always seems to me, is much more integrated philosophically than the rest and consequently more happier. The events of the outside world, while still are able to effect the happiness of Francisco, Rearden et al. to some extent that too in very very rare instances, they never effect Galt. The total indifference to evil and the eagerness in the pursuit of happiness is much more real in the person of Galt than the others.

So what is it that makes Galt better, more integrated than the rest?

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Although Ayn Rand said that John Galt, Francisco D'anconia, Howard Roark, Hank Rearden, all were her projections of the ideal man, I have always felt that there was something in John Galt that was better than the others. I don't have many intellectual arguments to back this up, this is primarly a feeling for which I am looking for the answers.

I think John Galt was a more full concretization of the philosophy and sense of life that was Ayn Rand's. See if the intellectual arguments that you seek become more clear by detailing why it was so natural in the story of Atlas Shrugged to accept Dagny winding up with Galt.

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It's interesting that Stephen chose to describe John Galt as "more full concretization of the philosophy and sense of life that was Ayn Rand's" because I think Galt recieves the most abstract and God-like presentation of all the ideal men in Atlas Shrugged, and I think Ayn Rand completely intended for it to be that way.

Galt has the quality of an untouchable God-On-Earth in that we have no sense of his pyschology or "inner-life" and each of the other ideal men presented is ideal and yet none is so perfectly untouched by bitterness or evil or has such emotional transcendence (of pain, guilt, fear, etc.) as Galt does. However, the fact that we do not have insight into his pyschology is also what heightens our attention to his actions to give us clues about his person. I think the reader is expected to understand his pyschology through the value judgements and observations made by Dagny, so when she chooses to be with him and that seems perfectly natural we can imagine their lives and minds on parallel tracks throughout the course of the novel (even though we don't meet Galt until more than half-way through).

It's interesting to read the novel a second time, as I am doing now and to wonder once in awhile as Dagny is struggling... what is Galt doing now?

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It's interesting that Stephen chose to describe John Galt as "more full concretization of the philosophy and sense of life that was Ayn Rand's" because I think Galt recieves the most abstract and God-like presentation of all the ideal men in Atlas Shrugged, and I think Ayn Rand completely intended for it to be that way.

Galt has the quality of an untouchable God-On-Earth in that we have no sense of his pyschology or "inner-life" ...

I most emphatically disagree with this characterization of Galt, and disagree as well with this notion that we lack insight into his psychology. And, in addition, I disagree with the speculation that Ayn Rand intended this interpretation given by Elle.

The fundamental of psychology is the issue of motivation; to understand a man's psychology is to understand why he acts as he does. And the underlying factor of motivation is the values a man holds, and the premises used in choosing those values. No character in Atlas Shrugged is more precisely drawn psychologically than is John Galt, in his actions and words. Psychology and "inner life" should not be confused with historical detail, of which the other heroic characters in Atlas certainly exceed in quantity that given to Galt. The psychological insight into Galt is heightened in a manner similar to using a magnifying glass to see important detail more clearly. One only need read scenes like this one in which Galt's psychology is laid bare.

"I had never seen Hank Rearden, only pictures of him in the newspapers. I knew that he was in New York, that night, at some conference of big industrialists. I wanted to have just one look at him. I went to walk at the entrance of the hotel where that conference was held. There were bright lights under the marquee of the entrance, but it was dark beyond, on the pavement, so I could see without being seen, there were a few loafers and vagrants hanging around, there was a drizzle of rain and we clung to the walls of the building. One could tell the members of the conference when they began filing out, by their clothes and their manner—ostentatiously prosperous clothes and a manner of overbearing timidity, as if they were guiltily trying to pretend that they were what they appeared to be for that moment. There were chauffeurs driving up their cars, there were a few reporters delaying them for questions and hangers-on trying to catch a word from them. They were worn men, those industrialists, aging, flabby, frantic with the effort to disguise uncertainty. And then I saw him. He wore an expensive trenchcoat and a hat slanting across his eyes. He walked swiftly, with the kind of assurance that has to be earned, as he'd earned it. Some of his fellow industrialists pounced on him with questions, and those tycoons were acting like hangers-on around him. I caught a glimpse of him as he stood with his hand on the door of his car, his head lifted, I saw the brief flare of a smile under the slanting brim, a confident smile, impatient and a little amused. And then, for one instant, I did what I had never done before, what most men wreck their lives on doing—I saw that moment out of context, I saw the world as he made it look, as if it matched him, as if he were its symbol—I saw a world of achievement, of unenslaved energy, of unobstructed drive through purposeful years to the enjoyment of one's reward—I saw, as I stood in the rain in a crowd of vagrants, what my years would have brought me, if that world had existed, and I felt a desperate longing—he was the image of everything I should have been … and he had everything that should have been mine.… But it was only a moment. Then I saw the scene in full context again and in all of its actual meaning—I saw what price he was paying for his brilliant ability, what torture he was enduring in silent bewilderment, struggling to understand what I had understood—I saw that the world he suggested, did not exist and was yet to be made, I saw him again for what he was, the symbol of my battle, the unrewarded hero whom I was to avenge and to release—and then … then I accepted what I had learned about you and him. I saw that it changed nothing, that I should have expected it—that it was right."

Over many decades there have been those who portray Galt as a one-dimensional character (I don't mean to imply that Elle is one of those), but the fact is that John Galt is as three-dimensional as a literary character can get. The careful reader should walk away with a sense of knowing Galt's psychology almost as well as they should know their own.

As to what "Ayn Rand completely intended," about intentions we should not really speculate. However, note these words by Ayn Rand in a 1961 interview (reproduced in The Journals of Ayn Rand (p. 704). Speaking of Atlas Shrugged, she said:

Above everything else, it presented my ideal man fully. I can never surpass Galt.

I take "fully" to mean just that -- not only philosophically but psychologically as well -- not someone "abstract and God-like" for which "we do not have insight into his pyschology."

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It's interesting that Stephen chose to describe John Galt as "more full concretization of the philosophy and sense of life that was Ayn Rand's" because I think Galt recieves the most abstract and God-like presentation of all the ideal men in Atlas Shrugged, and I think Ayn Rand completely intended for it to be that way.

This is a very interesting statement that I keep hearing, and I must say, I've also thought myself at one time. But it's also an idea that's at odds with everything else we know about Ayn Rand as a thinker.

Her primary contribution to philosophy was an epistemological method that unites concepts with the concretes that subsume them. By this method, there is no such thing as a platonic abstraction, an Ideal divorced from reality. And by all accounts, she was a thinker who practiced what she preached, so why would this one aspect of her life be exempt from a method that defined her like nothing else ever defined a person?

Most of us come to know this by reading her explicitly works on philosophy, in the non-fiction, or even Galt's speech. But you can also see this method in action within her fiction. No conclusion is ever reached in a vaccuum. She always validates every conclusion by listing concrete details or actions, and then she abstracts the principle that unites those details. It's seamless, artful, and not at all didactic. Take any random narrative paragraph within her fiction and you'll see this method at work.

So, that was all the setup. Here's the punchline.

(And if anyone hasn't read Atlas yet, turn away because there are minor spoilers below.)

I think Galt is one of the subtly drawn characters in all of world literature because he is portrayed not by the reader's direct experience with him (that is, the author presenting him directly to the reader, as she does with Dagny, Rearden, et al), but he is presented by the means of his impact on the characters that we do experience directly, as well as his impact on the rest of the world.

Think about that for a second.

The reader doesn't directly glimpse Galt until Dagny does, more than 2/3rds of the way into the story. But does that mean he doesn't exist as a character for us? On the contrary, he's everywhere! On the macroscopic scale, we can see that every single action or event that is in conflict with Dagny and Rearden is a result of Galt's will. I, of course, contend that Galt's character is revealed through this value-conflict with Dagny, and to a lesser extent, Rearden.

But we also see him on the smaller, personal level. Everyone knows about the conversations with Eddie, but take a closer look at them. Eddie is the one doing the talking, but it's clear by Eddie's responses that the person he's talking to is expressing his values. He reveals passion, an agile mind, empathy, even a sense of humor.

Remember Dagny in her office? The author is letting us experience Dagny's yearning for her ideal, but we're also finding out about Galt (which is something we only find out much later).

This is, I think, a brilliant, revolutionary method of presenting a character. And yes, it is at a high level of abstraction. That's why people keep saying that Galt isn't concretized. Which isn't true.

He's there, if you're looking for him.

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*********SPOILERS for Atlas Shrugged in this post*********

Stephen,

I LOVE that passage from AS! I found it so important and revealing of Galt's character, and precious for that reason. There is a sense in which a reader has to really be paying attention (and reading the book more than once is helpful in this regard too) in order to see and project the world of John Galt.

And I agree with Joel about how John Galt is everywhere. But I certainly did not realize this until after a second reading. And I don't really see how one would see this fact during a first reading, if/since one doesn't really know what is driving the events. On the second reading, I found those conversations with Eddie so fun to read, because by then you know who Eddie is talking to, and can see Galt mining him for information and using him as a link with the prospective strikers, particularly Dagny.

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I think Galt is one of the subtly drawn characters in all of world literature because he is portrayed not by the reader's direct experience with him (that is, the author presenting him directly to the reader, as she does with Dagny, Rearden, et al), but he is presented by the means of his impact on the characters that we do experience directly, as well as his impact on the rest of the world.

This is a good identification.

Another instance of this is one thing conspicuously absent from Ayn Rand's depiction of Galt: an internal monologue. The reader is never given the viewpoint from inside Galt's mind. We are never let inside to watch him step through chains of thought. Yet we are provided that for several other characters in Atlas (and in her other novels).

As a result, a reader doesn't have the same sense of personal bond one could have from seeing firsthand how he thinks. Personally, I feel closer to Roark than Galt, not because one is more ideal than the other, but because I and Roark had the shared experience of being inside Roark's mind.

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I most emphatically disagree with this characterization of Galt, and disagree as well with this notion that we lack insight into his psychology. And, in addition, I disagree with the speculation that Ayn Rand intended this interpretation given by Elle.

I disagree with that interpretation as well. And I have been thinking about this sort of interpretation for a number of years as it is not uncommon to hear.

The problem is certainly not in Ayn Rand's presentation of Galt. We are not only given, through his actions, his values, motivations, philosophy, but also real concretes that characters normally get: physical descriptions of hair and eye color, the nature of his movements, mannerisms etc. We see and experience him not only through the omniscient viewpoint of the author, but through the eyes of the other characters. Something that is over and above most character presentations.

With such a clearly drawn character, I have always wondered how people experience him as abstract, almost ghost-like. I think, for the honest people who actually experience him as such, it lies in the rarity of the character himself. As if there is an experiential deficit in life and the world from which to draw upon to relate to the character. And I mean relate to him in the abstract meaning of who he is because I doubt anyone has a problem physically visualizing him.

Hank Rearden, and Fransisco are two characters rife with conflict. They are surely moral, but there is surely a struggle within. Even Howard Roark was learning as he was progressing - the principle behind the dean. Each of these characters are relatable on many levels and scales more easily than Galt (at least, for most people) whether from one's personal experience or the world around them.

With Galt, the homework is done, the lessons are mastered, there is no inner conflict, and here is the one man completely capable of dealing with reality. Ayn Rand certainly had to intend for him to be 100% completely concrete and real because he was the man who belongs on Earth. But, he is not a character that you experience catharsis with, he is that statue you look up to, and just as concrete.

Here is another key to Galt

(Atlas Shrugged page 1114 35th Anniversay edition HB)

"...What are you thinking of?"

"Hank Rearden."

"Uh...Why?"

"Did they feel any pity for Hank Rearden?"

"Oh, but that's different! He-"

"Shut up," said Galt evenly.

I felt more terribly for Rearden than any other character I've ever read in my life. Galt was certainly as real as my own flesh and blood in this passage!

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I. too, most fiercely related to Hank Rearden, as well as admiring him. I did not relate to Galt---it was a form of admiration, but in a newer, more complete sense, having no relation to the ordinary. But I never doubted that he was flesh and blood real---that would be pointless.

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I. too, most fiercely related to Hank Rearden, as well as admiring him. I did not relate to Galt---it was a form of admiration, but in a newer, more complete sense, having no relation to the ordinary. But I never doubted that he was flesh and blood real---that would be pointless.

I add, never has a shadow been more expressive of character, and more substantial.

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This thread helped me understand something I hadn’t realized I hadn’t completely put together: my father and my reaction to John Galt. It took me a long time to understand, or think I understand, the psychology of my father. At the same time, I always felt John Galt’s persona was so natural, “of course men like him exist; my Dad does.”

Several people pointed out the key aspects. We do not see conflict in Galt. We do not see torturous decision-making. We see integration. Thank you Stephen for the fabulous quote.

People who don’t know what integration looks like think it’s mystical, a bit unreal, maybe God-like, since he’s clearly so good. My Dad puzzled me a long time. He certainly didn’t go through any hoops of thought processes like I did. Why was that?

It turns out that he had thought a lot of things through, and he had decided his positions, and furthermore, since he was a good thinker, he didn’t have to backtrack too often. He was not a God, he was most definitely a man, but he was uncontradicted to a degree that very very few people are.

He was integrated, and in that respect it was truly a joy to interact with him. [We can consider this one more of my odes to his passing.]

Now that my thoughts are so much more in line with themselves, I too find myself being more “boring” or lacking in my old signs of hard thinking. I do things, but I don’t need to ponder contradictions – or, not the really knotty ones that are due to self-mixups. [i do think I’m done now, and the price of eternal vigilance is an enjoyable one.] Of all the confusions, one’s own are by far the hardest to fix.

Nowadays, I still have tough problems. I wrestle over things like what major project to tackle next. In my current context, this is really not a problem, it’s merely a “to do.” It’s not anywhere near as challenging as a similar question in the past could have been. There’s no angst or passionate uncertainty. It’s an issue, one that will [hopefully!] come up for many years to come. I have all the tools to solve the problem with contextual certainty. I know that when I reach my decision, there will be no second guessing myself later. It will satisfy me like any other healthy decision.

I think Galt is one of the subtly drawn characters in all of world literature because he is portrayed not by the reader's direct experience with him

..........

He's there, if you're looking for him.

Stephen’s quote shows us direct experience with Galt. Yes, he is there if you’re looking for him [a wonderful line]. He’s not there like others are though; he’s calm. He’s rational about everything, because he has no conflicts that make irrationality, ie overly emotional processing, necessary.

I feel closer to Roark than Galt, not because one is more ideal than the other, but because I and Roark had the shared experience of being inside Roark's mind.

Again, we do have some experience of being inside Galt’s mind [stephen’s quote], but it’s the finished mind, the state of being after one has made a lot of decisions that are true and therefore bear only confirmation, not rethinking.

Once the hardest philosophical issues are straightened out at the level of one’s psychology, the rest is “science” and “art” – technical, creative problem solving and investigation. I was going to add some qualifiers to that, but I don’t think they are necessary. I think Ayn Rand was right.

I think, for the honest people who actually experience him as [ghost-like], it lies in the [statistical] rarity of the character himself.

....

With Galt, the homework is done, the lessons are mastered, there is no inner conflict, and here is the one man completely capable of dealing with reality.

Thoyd, I agree completely, I am saying the same thing in a different manner. I hope it’s not too repetitive. I feel a real “ah hah!”

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I think Galt is one of the subtly drawn characters in all of world literature because he is portrayed not by the reader's direct experience with him (that is, the author presenting him directly to the reader, as she does with Dagny, Rearden, et al), but he is presented by the means of his impact on the characters that we do experience directly, as well as his impact on the rest of the world.

Think about that for a second.

The reader doesn't directly glimpse Galt until Dagny does, more than 2/3rds of the way into the story. But does that mean he doesn't exist as a character for us? On the contrary, he's everywhere! On the macroscopic scale, we can see that every single action or event that is in conflict with Dagny and Rearden is a result of Galt's will. I, of course, contend that Galt's character is revealed through this value-conflict with Dagny, and to a lesser extent, Rearden.

But we also see him on the smaller, personal level. Everyone knows about the conversations with Eddie, but take a closer look at them. Eddie is the one doing the talking, but it's clear by Eddie's responses that the person he's talking to is expressing his values. He reveals passion, an agile mind, empathy, even a sense of humor.

Remember Dagny in her office? The author is letting us experience Dagny's yearning for her ideal, but we're also finding out about Galt (which is something we only find out much later).

This is, I think, a brilliant, revolutionary method of presenting a character. And yes, it is at a high level of abstraction. That's why people keep saying that Galt isn't concretized. Which isn't true.

He's there, if you're looking for him.

Wow, that's a really good point. I mentioned that we experience him through Dagny's value judgments, but actually your examples are ones that I hadn't really thought of. (w/ Eddie, etc.)

So with that in mind, why do you think it is it that I (perhaps a not-so-careful reader) come away from the book feeling like I "know" Hank Rearden, but that John Galt is still so difficult?

(btw, I will answer the arguments against my position -- I'm so happy this sparked conversation!)

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Ok, so now I can't really stop thinking about this... because to the truth is that I expected to get agreement on my statement regarding presentation of Galt being the most abstract and God-like, as compared to the other men in AS. Looking back on the first time I read that novel I can see that there was really no way I could relate to Galt, not in the way that I could relate with the struggles of Francisco or Hank Rearden. To me, regardless of the concretizations of his character (through the lovely quote Stephen provided, as well as in his mannerism, impact on other characters in the novel, invention of the motor, and success of creating Galt's Gulch, etc.), he was so far removed from the world as it is that I couldn't really concieve of him.

I definitely admired him, in a very distant "on a pedestal" kind of way - but introspecting on this I don't think Ayn Rand put him there; I did. I thought to myself that I would be worthy of that someday and it gave a face and a deeper meaning to a distant longing I had had since I was a girl, for a man to love. When I read AS for the first time it was the first taste of Objectivism - or any non-Platonistic thought - I had ever had, so I guess it would make sense for me to immediately place something so wonderful and "other-worldly" on a pedestal in the Platonic tradition.

Interestingly, as much as that was my mindset then I definitely have taken a very different approach in my waking life - finding that I could be with the man who would would represent all that Galt does to me romantically/spiritually (oh he exists, he posted in the 'What's up with MS?' thread) even though when I met him he seemed almost to far from where I was at in life to be obtainable.

So, hmmm... where does that leave me? First, I withdraw my position that Galt is the most abstractly presented character. While the reader is asked to make a lot more judgments of him based on the implications of his words and the impact of his actions as viewed by the effect on other characters he is actually more the full embodiment of the "ideal man" in his completeness and concretization than any other character which is demonstrated in the quality of his mind, sense of life, and achievements through the multiple examples provided here and found in the novel.

As to Ayn Rand's intentions I will respond to what no one has said to me (yet): yes, I know better than to be so presumptuous and I apologize. Instead, I will say that her ability to treat the reader as intelligent and capable of understanding Galt in the subtle ways that she has presented him is a wonderful literary treat for the careful reader which I would imagine makes the novel enjoyable to read over and over, each time with added clarity and understanding.

So to cap off these statements I'd like to offer another question for thought regarding these ideal men...

Do women and men respond differently to them?

Why is it that even though Dagny ends up with Galt I get a sense that I 'almost' wish she would be with Francisco, until Dagny realizes what a terrible act of altruism that would be? (Her level of rigor can be a great example to any young woman whose ever laid in bed late into the night choosing between two men.)

As my own sense of life and experience develops and Galt becomes more real to me (in the sense that I can relate to him more) will my experience of these characters change?

(For the record, the most romantically appealing character to me upon first reading was Francisco and upon second reading is undoubtable Rearden... have any other women experienced this change in preference and do you have any insight into why that you might care to share?)

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Again, we do have some experience of being inside Galt’s mind [stephen’s quote], but it’s the finished mind, the state of being after one has made a lot of decisions that are true and therefore bear only confirmation, not rethinking.

Actually, the quoted text is from a conversation between Galt and Dagny. Readers certainly can learn what Galt thinks from what he says to other characters, but we don't have the same perspective with Galt that we do with other characters. Notice that we enter the thoughts and feelings of Rearden, Eddie and Dagny, for instance, but not Galt. It's sometimes called a "restricted omniscient" viewpoint (as in chapter 4 of Structuring Your Novel by Meredith and Fitzgerald). I think an effect of this is to create a certain separation between Galt and the reader that doesn't exist with, say, Dagny.

This is further enhanced by having solitary scenes with each of those three but not with Galt. Galt is always seen with someone else in the scene.

My point is not directly about the finished vs. unfinished mind.

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As my own sense of life and experience develops and Galt becomes more real to me (in the sense that I can relate to him more) will my experience of these characters change?

I suspect the different sense of "real" in how you responded to John Galt, as compared to your response to Francisco and Rearden, was not only dependent on your "own sense of life and experience," but was also a consequence of your response to detail. We are given so much detail about Francisco and Rearden that, if pressed, we could probably guess what sort of ice cream they each like, but with Galt we wouldn't have a clue. But, as I mentioned previously, the psychologically "real" stems from grasping a person's motivation, not from historical detail or minor preferences. John Galt is as "real" as it gets, because his motivation is clear -- his values and premises are so precisely and unequivocally drawn.

So, to answer your question, while it is certainly possible that your sense of Galt will change as your "own sense of life and experience develop," I suspect the greatest change may come from better understanding intellectually the connection between motivation and the psychologically real.

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So to cap off these statements I'd like to offer another question for thought regarding these ideal men...

Do women and men respond differently to them?

I respond most to Francisco--he is my favorite character. Interestingly, he seems to also be a character whose thoughts and feelings the reader does not experience directly, as Ed pointed out about Galt. He is viewed from Dagny's or Rearden's perspective. I guess it is the historical detail about Francisco that makes him so easy to relate to, despite that. However there are also minor characters, who aren't given much background, that I also respond to and can clearly imagine--like Ellis Wyatt. I am not sure why--I will have to reread and see.

I seem to experience everyone in the novel from Dagny's perspective generally, and relate to them as she does. I wonder if men reading the novel experience the reverse of this--seeing Dagny from Rearden's perspective, for example.

... (Her level of rigor can be a great example to any young woman whose ever laid in bed late into the night choosing between two men.)

:angry2: Doesn't it make you feel like you are living in an Ayn Rand novel?

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Again, we do have some experience of being inside Galt's mind [stephen's quote], but it's the finished mind, the state of being after one has made a lot of decisions that are true and therefore bear only confirmation, not rethinking.

Actually, the quoted text is from a conversation between Galt and Dagny. Readers certainly can learn what Galt thinks from what he says to other characters, but we don't have the same perspective with Galt that we do with other characters. Notice that we enter the thoughts and feelings of Rearden, Eddie and Dagny, for instance, but not Galt. It's sometimes called a "restricted omniscient" viewpoint (as in chapter 4 of Structuring Your Novel by Meredith and Fitzgerald). I think an effect of this is to create a certain separation between Galt and the reader that doesn't exist with, say, Dagny.

In regard to Galt and the quote, here you seem to be focusing more on the possible effect of literary structure, while ElizabethLee and myself are focusing more on the content. Whatever form this "separation" may or may not take, the main point in regard to grasping Galt's psychology is that the effect of his words makes him as psychologically real as it gets.

(I realize, as you say further on, that your point was not meant to address ElizabethLee's "finished mind," but I thought it important to underscore that whatever effect may result from the different manner in which Galt is literarily portrayed, the evidence of his motivation is so clear and precise that such an effect of separation, if indeed one does exist, does not hinder us in seeing John Galt as psychologically real.)

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So with that in mind, why do you think it is it that I (perhaps a not-so-careful reader) come away from the book feeling like I "know" Hank Rearden, but that John Galt is still so difficult?

Elle, I think it's exactly because of the reasons that Joel mentioned: we perceive him, as a character, indirectly, more through others' reaction of him than through our own experience of him, of what he likes, and of what he does. Isn't that sort of what our conception of a ghost is? Something we can't/don't see ourselves but observe mainly through reactions of everybody else to it? Not that I myself think of Galt this way; he's fully as flesh-and-blood to me. Yet when I initially read the novel I had the same reaction as you, and many other readers; Galt, as a character, is simply drawn in such different way than all other characters in AS (or any other book I've ever read), that it takes some time to get used to it and to understand Galt on his own terms.

Incidentally, in response to jenbryn, I don't think Francisco is drawn out in the same way. Although he has some of the same depiction, initially, for most of the book we see him acting, loving, hating, enjoying, in his own person, not through the eyes of someone else. Incidentally also, I too find myself most close to Francisco (in the sense of life especially :angry2:).

I seem to experience everyone in the novel from Dagny's perspective generally, and relate to them as she does. I wonder if men reading the novel experience the reverse of this--seeing Dagny from Rearden's perspective, for example.
I experienced the novel mainly from the perspective of the men -- being a tortured but determined Rearden, being a mysterious and invincible Francisco, and all loving Dagny :angry2:

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Remember, also, that Atlas Shrugged is a mystery and that John Galt, as a character cannot be fully revealed and still serve his literary function. To give away "Who is John Galt?" too early in the story would have destroyed the story.

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Incidentally, in response to jenbryn, I don't think Francisco is drawn out in the same way. Although he has some of the same depiction, initially, for most of the book we see him acting, loving, hating, enjoying, in his own person, not through the eyes of someone else. Incidentally also, I too find myself most close to Francisco (in the sense of life especially :angry2:).

I meant this in the literary sense, the "restricted omniscience" that Ed From OC pointed out. I had to go back and look carefully through the novel to discover this. Because Francisco's sense of life is so strong and clearly portrayed, I thought there must be scenes where you see Francisco alone, and what he is thinking is described as though from inside his head. But I can not find any instances of this. His emotions and words are always described from the perspective of Dagny or Rearden seeing and hearing him.

This is quite amazing, I think. Just one more amazing thing about Atlas to add to the already long list. :angry2:

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Remember, also, that Atlas Shrugged is a mystery and that John Galt, as a character cannot be fully revealed and still serve his literary function. To give away "Who is John Galt?" too early in the story would have destroyed the story.

Right, which is why Galt should be taken on his own terms, even if on first appearences he may appear to be drawn less clearly than the rest.

jenbryn,

I thought there must be scenes where you see Francisco alone, and what he is thinking is described as though from inside his head. But I can not find any instances of this. His emotions and words are always described from the perspective of Dagny or Rearden seeing and hearing him.
Oh I see the sense in which you mean this, and I agree, there are no scenes where it's just Francisco and the reader having access to his thoughts, as is the case with Rearden or Dagny. Still there are plenty of times in the story where we are able to perceive Francisco and his values directly; Galt, on the other hand, has much fewer of those scenes; he's mainly a presence in how the other characters in the book perceive him, and for the last third the expressions of his values are so wound up together and stylized that they're just very different from what the reader is probably used to, giving more a sense of a "blinding light" than of familiarity. But that's why Galt has to be taken on his own terms -- he's different as a literary character from all the rest, and he does express his values enough to be a complete person, though again in a very unique way.

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One extremely major point that I haven't seen discussed, re: information about John Galt's nature, is: Galt's speech. If you take it, in the novel's context, as his own invention and presentation, you could know nothing else about him in the novel, but have vast, deep knowledge about his fundamental nature.

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:angry2: Doesn't it make you feel like you are living in an Ayn Rand novel?

Yes, I should say it is wonderful to be in the position of having to choose between two men who are so worthy (wouldn't I love to have the opportunity to choose between Francisco and John Galt?!).

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