Atlas Shrugged

You ought to discover some day that words have an exact meaning.

Francisco to James

"Those touchy mediocrities who sit trembling lest someone's work prove greater than their own - they have no inkling of the loneliness that comes when you reach the top. The loneliness for an equal - for a mind to respect and an achievement to admire. They bare their teeth to you from out of their rat holes, thinking that you take pleasure in letting your brilliance dim them - while you'd give a year of your life to see a flicker of talent anywhere among them. They envy achievement, and their dream of greatness is a world where all men have become their acknowledged inferiors. ....... Of what account are praise and adulation from men whom you don't respect? Have you ever felt the longing for someone you could admire?"

Dr. Stadler to Dagny Taggart

"Did you get your money by fraud? By pandering to men's vices or men's stupidity? By catering to fools, in the hope of getting more than your ability deserves? By lowering your standards? By doing work you despise for purchasers you scorn? If so, then your money will not give you a moment's or penny's worth of joy. Then the things you buy will become, not a tribute to you, but a reproach; not an achievement, but a reminder of shame. ....... Or did you say it's the love of money that's the root of all evil? To love a thing is to know and love its nature. To love money is to know and love the fact that money is the creation of the best power within you, and your passkey to trade your effort for the effort of the best among men. It's the person who would sell his soul for a nickel, who is the loudest in proclaiming his hatred for money - and he has good reason to hate it. The lovers of money are willing to work for it. They know they are able to deserve it."

Fransisco to people

"He was seeing the enormity of the smallness of the enemy who was destroying the world. He felt as if, after a journey of years through a landscape of devastation, past the ruins of great factories, the wrecks of powerful engines, the bodies of invincible men, he had come upon the despoiler, expecting to find a giant - and had found a rat eager to scurry for cover at the first sound of a human step. If this is what has beaten us, he thought, the guilt is ours."

Rearden thinking to himself on his trial.

"What a man does out of despair, is not necessarily a key to his character. I have always thought that the real key is in that which he seeks for his enjoyment"

Rearden to Francisco

"Man will always be attracted to the woman who reflects the deepest vision of himself, the woman whose surrender permits him to experience - or to fake - a sense of self esteem. The man who is proudly certain of his own value, will want the highest type of woman he can find, the woman he admires, the strongest, the hardest to conquer - because only the possession of a heroine will give him the sense of an achievement, not the possession of a brainless slut."

Fransisco to Rearden

"How could men who're afraid to hold an unqualified opinion about the weather, fight Nat Taggart? How could they seize his achievement, if he chose to defend it? Dagny, he fought with every weapon he possessed, except the most important one. They could not have won, if we - he and the rest of us - had not given the world away to them."

Fransisco to Dagny

"He saw the look of a peculiar panic growing in her eyes: it was not the look of understanding, but of a ferocious refusal to understand - as if she wanted to turn the violence of her emotion into a fog screen, as if she hoped, not that it would blind her to reality, but that her blindness would make reality cease to exist."

Rearden thinking about Lillan

"If I had not known that my life depends upon my mind and my effort, if I had not made it my highest moral purpose to exercise the best of my effort and the fullest capacity of my mind in order to support and expand my life, you would have found nothing to loot from me, nothing to support your own existence. It is not my sins that you're using to injure me, but my virtues - my virtues by your own acknowledgement, since your own life depends on the, since you need them, since you do not seek to destroy my achievement but to seize it."

Rearden thinking to himself while with Dr. Ferris

"This was his period of training for solitude, he thought; he had to live without any awareness of people, the awareness that now paralyzed him with revulsion. He had once built his fortune, starting out with empty hands; now he had to rebuild his life, starting with an empty spirit."

Rearden thinking to himself

"This is the horror which Robin Hood immortalized as an ideal of righteousness. It is said that he fought against the looting rulers and returned the loot to those who had been robbed, but this is not the meaning of the legend which has survived. He is remembered, not as a champion of property, but as a champion of need, not the defender of the robbed, but as a provider of the poor."

Ragner Danneskjold to Rearden

"It was the emotion he had felt when, at the age of fourteen, he had looked at his first pay check - when, at the age of twenty-four, he had been made superintendent of the ore mines - when, as the owner of the mines, he had placed, in his own name, his first order for new equipment from the best concern of the time - an emotion of solemn, joyous excitement, the sense of winning his place in a world he respected and earning the recognition of men he admired."

Rearden thinking to himself

"...the stubborn monotone of the unthinking which asserts an end without concern for the means."

About the speech of some man to Kip Chalmers

"Then she understood that what she needed was the motion to a purpose, no matter how small or in what form, the sense of an activity going step by step to some chosen end across a span of time. The work of cooking a meal was like a closed circle, completed and gone, leading nowhere. But the work of building a path was a living sum, so that no day was left to die behind her, but each day contained all those that preceded it, each day acquired its immortality on every succeeding tomorrow. A circle, she thought, if the movement proper to physical nature, they say there is nothing but circular motion in the inanimate universe around us, but the straight line is the badge of man, the straight line of a geometrical abstraction that makes roads, rails and bridges, the straight line that cuts the curving aimlessness of nature by a purposeful motion from a start to an end. The cooking of meals, she thought, is like feeding of coal to an engine for the sake of a great run, but what would be the imbecile torture of coaling an engine that had no run to make?"

Dagny thinking to herself

"Theirs is the morality of kidnappers. They use your love of virtue as a hostage. They know that you'll bear anything in order to work and produce, because you know that achievement is man's highest moral purpose, that he can't exist without it, and your love of virtue is your love of life. They count on you to assume any burden. They count on you to feel that no effort is too great in the service of your love. Dagny, your enemies are destroying you by means of your own power. Your generosity and your endurance are their only tools."

Francisco to Dagny

"You, whoever you are, whom I have always loved and never found, you whom I expected to see at the other end of the rails beyond the horizon, you whose presence I had always felt in the streets of the city and whose world I had wanted to build, it is my love for you that had kept me moving, my love and my hope to reach you and my wish to be worthy of you on the day when I would stand before you face to face,"

Dagny thinking to herself

"There was no astonishment in the tramp's face, no protest, no anger, no hope, he looked as if he had long since abandoned any judgement of any human action. ....She saw him glance at her and glance away, as if she were merely another inanimate fixture of the train. He did not seem to be aware of her person any more than his own, he was indifferently ready to comply with an order which, in his condition, meant certain death. She glanced at the conductor. She saw nothing in his face except the blind malevolence of pain, of some long-repressed anger that broke out upon the first object available, almost without consciousness of the objects identity. The two men were not human beings to each other any longer."


"... it is a sin to sit down and let your life go, without making a try for it."

The Tramp

"We voted for that plan at a big meeting, with all of us present ..... None of us knew just how the plan would work, but every one of us thought that the next fellow knew it. And if anybody had doubts, he felt guilty and kept his mouth shut - because they made it sound like anyone who'd oppose the plan was a child-killer at heart and less than a human being. They told us that this plan would achieve a noble ideal. Well, how were we to know otherwise? Hadn't we heard it all our lives - from our parents and our schoolteachers and our ministers, and in every newspaper we ever read and every movie and every public speech?"

The Tramp

"She wanted to extend her hand in parting, but it seemed inadequate, and then she remembered what he had said about times of loneliness. She took out the package and silently offered him one of his own cigarettes. His smile was a full statement of understanding, and the small flame of his match lighting their two cigarettes was their most enduring handshake."

Dagny and Kellog

"...this was what she would have given her life to see: a face that bore no mark of pain or fear or guilt. The shape of his mouth was pride, and more: it was as if he took pride in being proud. The angular planes of his cheeks made her think of arrogance, of tension, of scorn - yet the face had none of these qualities, it had their final sum: a look of serene determination and of certainity, and the look of a ruthless innocence which would not seek forgiveness or grant it."

Dagny thinking about John Galt

"And helplessly - as one would say to a dead friend, in a dream, the words one regrets having missed the chance to say in life - she said, with the memory of a telephone ringing, unanswered, almost two years ago, the words she had hoped to say if she ever caught sight of him again, "I ... I tried to reach you.""

Dagny about Ellis Wyatt

"...I'm working to improve my methods, and every hour I save is an hour added to my life. It used to take me five hours to fill that tank. It now takes three. The two I saved are mine - as pricelessly mine as if I moved my grave two further hours away for every five I've got. It's two hours released to work, to grow, to move forward. That's the saving account I'm hoarding. ..... If my oil takes less effort to produce, I ask less of the men to whom I trade it for the things I need. I add an extra span of time to their lives with every gallon of my oil that they burn. And since they're men like me, they keep inventing faster ways to make the things they make - so every one of them grants me an added minute, hour or day..."

Ellis Wyatt about his work

"I swear by my life and my love of it that I will never live for the sake of another man, nor ask another man to live for mine."

The Oath

"We do not tell - we show. We do not claim - we prove. It is not your obedience that we seek to win, but your rational conviction."

Hugh Akston to Dagny

"I had made my fortune by being able to spot a certain kind of man. The kind who never asked you for faith, hope and charity, but offered you facts, proof and profit."

Midas Muligan to Dagny

"What did you tell them to make them abandon everything?"
"I told them they were right. I gave them the pride they did not know they had. I gave them the words to identify it. I gave them that priceless possession which they had missed, had longed for, yet had not known they needed: a moral sanction."

Dialog between John Galt and Dagny

She noticed that their handshake came an instant too late and lasted an instant too long like the handshake of men who had not been certain that their previous meeting would not be their last.

Dagny about the meeting of Ragner Danneskjold and John Galt

"Fransisco, I did love you.." she said, and caught her breath, shocked, realizing that she had not intended to say it and, simultaneously, that this was not the tense she had wanted to use.
"But you do," he said calmly, smiling. "You still love me - even if there's one expression of it that you'll always feel and want, but will not give me any longer. I'm still what I was, and you'll always see it, and you'll always grant me the same response, even if there's a greater one that you grant to another man. No matter what you feel for him, it will not change what you feel for me, and it won't be treason either, because it comes from the same root, the same payment in answer to the same values. No matter what happens in the future, we'll always be what we were to each other, you and I, because you'll always love me."

Dialog between Fransisco and Dagny

"There is reason, she thought, why a woman would wish to cook for a man... oh, not as a duty, not as a chronic career, only as a rare and special rite in symbol of... but what they made of it, the preachers of woman's duty?... The castrated performance of a sickening drudgery was held to be a woman's proper virtue - while that which gave a meaning and sanction was held as a shameful sin..."


"This, Miss Taggart, this sort of spirit, courage and love for truth - as against a sloppy bum who goes around proudly assuring you that he has almost reached the perfection of a lunatic, because he's an artist who hasn't the faintest idea what his art work is or means, he's not restrained by such crude concepts as 'being' or 'meaning', he's the vehicle of higher mysteries, he doesn't know how he created his work or why, it just came out of him spontaneously, like vomit out of a drunkard, he did not think, he wouldn't stoop to thinking, he just felt it, all he has to do is feel - he feels, the flabby, loose-mouthed, shifty-eyed, drooling, shivering, uncongealed bastard! I ... know what discipline, what effort, what tension of mind, what unrelenting strain upon one's power of clarity are needed to produce a work or art...."

Richard Halley to Dagny

"If any part of your uncertainty is a conflict between your heart and your mind - follow your mind."

Galt to Dagny

"I love you. As the same value, as the same expression, with the same pride and the same meaning as I love my work, my mills, my metal, my hours at a desk, at a furnace, in a laboratory, in an ore mine, as I love my ability to work, as I love the act of sight and knowledge, as I love the action of my mind when it solves a chemical equation or grasps a sunrise, as I love the things I have made and the things I've felt, as my product, as my choice, as a shape of my world, as my best mirror, as the wife I've never had, as that which makes all the rest possible: as my power to live."

Rearden to Dagny

"People think that a liar gains a victory over his victim. What I've learned is that a lie is an act of self-abdication, because one surrenders one's reality to the person to whom one lies, making that person one's master, condemning oneself from then on to faking the sort of reality that person's view requires to be faked. And if one gains the immediate purpose of the lie - the price one pays is the destruction of that which the gain was intended to serve. The man who lies to the world, is the world's slave from then on"

Rearden to Dagny

"...the people who said that they were adult because they did not try to think or to desire."


"Dagny, how did you do it? How did you manage to remain unmangled?"
"By holding to just one rule."
"To place nothing - nothing - above the verdict of my own mind."

Conversation between Cherryl and Dagny

"Dagny, it's not that I don't suffer, it's that I know the unimportance of suffering. I know that pain is to be fought and thrown aside, not to be accepted as part of one's soul and as a permanent scar across one's view of existence. Don't feel sorry for me."

Galt to Dagny

"The lust that drives others to enslave an empire, had become, in her limits, a passion for power over him. She had set out to break him, as if, unable to equal his value, she could surpass it by destroying it, as if the measure of his greatness would thus become the measure of hers, as if - he thought with a shudder - as if the vandal who smashed a statue were greater than the artist who had made it, as if the murderer who killed a child were greater than the mother who had given it birth."

Rearden thinking about Lillian

"Man's mind is his basic tool of survival. Life is given to him, survival is not. His body is given to him, its sustenance is not. His mind is given to him, its content is not. To remain alive, he must act, and before he can act he must know the nature and purpose of his action. He cannot obtain his food without a knowledge of food and of the way to obtain it. He cannot dig a ditch - or build a cyclotron - without a knowledge of his aim and of the means to achieve it. To remain alive, he must think."

John Galt speaking

"Whoever you are, you who are hearing me now, I am speaking to whatever living remnant is left uncorrupted within you, to the remnant of the human, to your mind, and I say: There is a morality of reason, a morality proper to man, and Man's Life is its standard of value."

John Galt speaking

"My morality, the morality of reason, is contained in a single axiom; existence exists - and in a single choice; to live. The rest proceeds from these. To live, man must hold three things as the supreme and ruling values of his life; Reason - Purpose - Self-esteem. Reason, as his only tool of knowledge - Purpose, as his choice of the happiness which that tool must proceed to achieve - Self-esteem, as his inviolate certainity that his mind is competent to think and his person is worthy of happiness, which means: is worthy of living. These three valus imply and require all of man's virtues, and all his virtues pertain to the relation of existence and consciousness: rationality, independence, integrity, honesty, justice, productiveness, pride."

John Galt speaking

"Morality, to you, is a phantom scarecrow made of duty, of boredom, of punishment, of pain, a cross-breed between the first schoolteacher of your past and the tax collector of your present, a scarecrow standing in a barren field, waving a stick to chase away your pleasures - and pleasure, to you, is a liquor-soggy brain, a mindless slut, the stupor of a moron who stakes his cash on some animal's race, since pleasure cannot be moral."

John Galt speaking

"Do you cry that you find no answers? By what means did you hope to find them? You reject your tool of perception - your mind - then complain that the universe is a mystery!"

John Galt speaking

"You who are alone with my words in this moment, with nothing but your honesty to help you understand - the choice is still open to be a human being, but the price is to start from scratch, to stand naked in the face of reality and, reversing a costly historical error, to declare: `I am, therefore I'll think.`."

John Galt speaking

"As a basic step of self-esteem, learn to treat as the mark of a cannibal any man's demand for your help. To demand it is to claim that your life is his property - and loathsome as such a claim might be, there's something still more loathsome: your agreement. Do you ask if it's ever proper to help another man? No - if he claims it as his right or as a moral duty you owe him. Yes - if such is your own desire based on your own selfish pleasure in the value of his person and his struggle. Suffering as such is not a value; only man's fight against suffering, is. If you choose to help a man who suffers, do it only on the ground of his virtues, of his fight to recover, of his rational record, or of the fact that he suffers unjustly; then your action is still a trade, and his virtue is the payment for your help. But to help a man who has no virtues, to help him on the ground of suffering as such, to accept his faults, his need, as a claim - is to accept the mortgage of a zero on your values."

John Galt speaking

"This is my railroad - (she thought) as she looked at a vault vibrating to the sound of distant wheels; this is my life - as she felt the clot of tension, ... this is my love - as the thought of the man who, perhaps, was somewhere in those tunnels. There can be no conflict among these three... what am I doubting?... what can keep us apart, here, where only he and I belong?... Then, recapturing the context of the present, she had walked steadily on, with the sense of the same unbroken loyality, but the sound of different words: You have forbidden me to look for you, you may damn me, you may choose to discard me... but by the right of the fact that I am alive, I must know that you are... I must see you this once... not to stop, not to speak, not to touch you, only to see...."

Dagny thinking to herself while looking for John Galt.

Mr. Thompson looken thoughtful, then shook his head. "I don't think you're practical," he said. "A practical man doesn't ignore the facts of reality. He doesn't waste his time wishing things to be different or trying to change them. He takes things as they are. We're holding you. It's a fact. Whether you like it or not, it's a fact. You should act accordingly."
"I am."
"What I mean is, you should co-operate. You should recognize an existing situation, accept it and adjust to it."
"If you had blood poisoning, would you adjust to it or act to change it?"
"Oh, that's differernt! That's physical!"
"You mean, physical facts are open to correction, but your whims are not?"

Conversation between Mr. Thompson and John Galt.

"He had never worked so hard; he had done his job as conscientiously well as he had always done any assignment; but it was as if he had worked in a vacuum, as if his energy had found no transmitters and had run into the sands of... of some desert..."

Eddie Willers when the comet broke down and was abandoned.

"I swear - by my life and my love of it - that I will never live for the sake of another man, not ask another man to live for mine."

The Oath

"The road is cleared. We are going to the world."

John Galt

"So long, Slug"
"So long, Frisco"