Atlas Shrugged Part 2, Chapter 4 Summary

Ayn Rand

Part 2, Chapter 4 Summary

On Thanksgiving, Rearden dines with his family but has finally decided he will no longer accept their moralizing. When his brother Phil states that Rearden of guilty of greed, Rearden tells him that it would be better if he would leave and live life on his own rather than live off Rearden’s money, which he finds so distasteful. Phil begins to backtrack; he says he was speaking in general terms about politics, not against Rearden himself. When Rearden gets up to leave, he tells Lillian he is going to New York, and she understands that he is going to his mistress.

The following day, Rearden stands trial for his “crime” of selling Rearden Metal to Ken Danagger. Rearden refuses to participate in the trial. He will not state his plea, nor does he recognize the legitimacy of the court to condemn him for selling what is rightfully his. He sways the crowd to his side to the point that the judge warns them that he will clear the court if they continue. Rearden says he cannot be tried for being a success at his business. First the public condemned him for putting Rearden Metal on the market; now they condemn him for withholding it. The judges back off, explaining that they are not taking what belongs to Rearden or keeping him from running his business; they are simply trying to ensure that everyone has a fair chance at acquiring the metal they need. The court fines Rearden $5,000 but suspends the sentence. The courtroom breaks out in cheers, with individuals begging Rearden to save them. Rearden looks among the crowd for Francisco d’Anconia, but he is not there.

After the trial, d’Anconia comes to see Rearden, who asks d’Anconia how he can waste so much time chasing women when he has so much intelligence and talent. D’Anconia explains that the women a man has sex with are indications of his moral code. If he chooses immoral women to bed, he himself is immoral. But if he chooses a higher class of companion, he reveals himself of greater worth. Despite the number of women he has had, he has been in love with only one woman. Rearden tells him that he has secretly bought a large supply of copper from d’Anconia mines to make a large order of Rearden Metal. D’Anconia is furious and reminds Rearden that he had warned him not to buy any d’Anconia copper. A few days later, Rearden understands when he learns that the ships bearing the copper he had purchased have been pirated by Ragnar Danneskjold.