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An interesting theme in this novel is the idea of personal integrity and the importance of being true to one's self. For some of these characters, integrity is an all or nothing proposition. If they cannot maintain this integrity in every aspect of their lives, they tend to want to disown this idea and inflict some form of suffering or pain as punishment for failure. This is especially true in terms of how characters manage their intimate relationships. But ultimately many of these characters also have an epiphany or revelation that allows them to reclaim their integrity and accept their choices and behaviors as necessary to their own growth. For Francisco, his decision to live life as a decadent playboy is in direct opposition to what he really wants, which is to be Dagny Taggart's lover. Since he and Dagny cannot be together, he no longer feels worthy of her, and so the opposite extreme of devoted lover is promiscuous playboy. For Francisco, this is the ultimate form of self-punishment and degradation, which he feels he deserves for losing Dagny.
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