Atlas Shrugged Part 2, Chapter 2 Summary

Ayn Rand

Part 2, Chapter 2 Summary

Dagny notices that all the nation’s leading industrialists are disappearing, so she tracks down and hires Quentin Daniels to work on the motor. She knows he works at the Utah Institute of Technology, but she is shocked to learn he is just a night watchman. Daniels explains that there are no research centers that are producing anything worthwhile, so he uses the UIT to provide himself a place to do his own research unwatched. He agrees to work for Dagny but at a low monthly wage; he says he will not take her money until he produces something worthwhile. When he does, he will demand a high percentage of the profits. Dagny agrees. Daniels will continue at UIT to work on the motor. She sends him a check every month, and he sends a detailed report.

Rearden feels frustrated by the government’s limitations on his production, so he sells Ken Danagger more Metal than the current law allows.

James Taggart is marrying Cherryl Brooks, the sales clerk he met some months previously. He had not demanded that she sleep with him, which she appreciates but which puzzles her. He takes her to a party, but she feels he is disappointed by the impression she makes on his friends. He proposes marriage, which she accepts after thinking that he was making fun of her. Cherryl is overwhelmed by the press coverage and would gladly escape until the wedding if James offered her the funds to do so, but he does not.

Lillian Rearden demands that Rearden accompany her to the wedding, and he does so reluctantly. He avoids making eye contact with Dagny. Cherryl confronts Dagny and tells her that she does not intend to maintain warm family relations—she says she is now Mrs. Taggart, the woman of the family. Dagny replies that she sees herself as the man of the family, which is a deliberate insult to James. Lillian has a face-off with Dagny as well when she sees Dagny wearing the bracelet of Rearden Metal. She asks Dagny to give it back but Dagny refuses. Lillian warns that people will think Dagny and Rearden are having affair. Rearden demands that Lillian apologize to Dagny.

Francisco d’Anconia crashes the wedding reception and speaks of the fallacy of the argument that money is the root of all evil. He points out that money is the result of a person’s effort and creativity, which is not evil. He exchanges money for the products of other people’s efforts. To prove his point, he spreads a rumor that d’Anconia Copper Mines are bogus and that d’Anconia stock is about to crash. Several people panic and rush to call their stockbrokers. Only d’Anconia, Rearden, and Dagny remain motionless.