Atlas Shrugged Part 2, Chapter 8 Summary

Ayn Rand

Part 2, Chapter 8 Summary

Dagny stays at her retreat at Woodstock in the Berkshires, New York. She avoids thinking about the railroad as much as she can but often wakes up in the night worrying about it. One day she hears the sound of a car over the music coming from her radio. She hopes that it is Rearden, but it is Francisco d’Anconia. He has come to convince her to join him in his own exile. He tells her that, twelve years before, he was the first industrialist to walk away from his company. But he does not disappear as the others have done; he stays to destroy to keep it from the looters. Dagny cannot understand how he could destroy something he loved, but d’Anconia tells her that it is because of his love that he has been working to take it apart piecemeal. His loss of her, he tells her, is what has bothered him the most. Over the radio, Dagny and d’Anconia hear the news of the train accident in Colorado. After the train stopped in the tunnel, another train crashed into it. It exploded and destroyed the tunnel beyond repair. Despite d’Anconia’s pleas that she let it go, Dagny rushes back to New York.

At the offices of Taggart Transcontinental, James Taggart sits with his letter of resignation in front of him on the desk, ready to sign should it prove necessary. He has not responded to the emergency; to do so would place the responsibility on him. He calls in Eddie Willers and demands to know where Dagny is. Eddie refuses even though Taggart says he is harboring a criminal who walked away from her job against Directive 10-289. Eddie is firm in his resolve until Dagny shows up at the office, at which point he dissolves in tears.

Dagny quickly takes charge, designing a new route for the transcontinental line even though her actions are illegal according to the strictures of Directive 10-289. Wesley Mouch calls her. He welcomes her back on the job and promises to help her in any way he can to deal with the crisis; he is even willing to bend the laws if need be. She asks to speak to Mr. Weatherby, Mouch’s assistant. Dagny tells Mr. Weatherby that she will no longer talk to Mouch but will communicate only through Weatherby. She then calls Rearden to tell him she is back. He tells her that he gave in and signed the gift certificate. Dagny tells him that she has effectively given in as well by returning to Taggart Transcontinental.