I’m 700 pages in, just finished Part 2 of Atlas Shrugged. As expected, none of the characters have become more likeable since Part 1, but surprisingly, a few of them have become, ever so slightly, more relatable as human beings. I can think of three instances total so far in which glimmers of human emotion have been allowed to come through in this epic battle of philosophical ideas. Here they are:
1. Lillian Rearden, the faithful wife of Rearden, finds out that he is banging Dagny. She, understandably, gets upset, and demands that he stop banging her. Of course, she is portrayed, by Rearden and Rand, as despicable for forwarding the notion.
2. 120 pages and a few months later, Rearden finds out that Dagny, the love of his life, used to fuck his floppy-haired friend-turned-enemy, Francisco D’Anconia. Rearden slaps Francisco across the face and fucks Dagny immediately afterward to assert his dominance. I don’t know who is more gay–a dude who bitch slaps another dude over a woman, or a dude with floppy hair named Francisco D’Anconia who lies on the floor in a dressing gown and plays marbles by himself. This is turning into a soap opera in slow motion.
3. Eddie Willers, Dagny’s childhood friend and assistant, discovers that he, after all these years, is in love with Dagny after he finds out that she and Rearden have been fucking, thus completing the love quadrilateral that bespeaks the continuation of the soap opera. This begs the question: is there a single man in Atlas Shrugged who does not want to fuck Dagny Taggart?
At this point, the only character I feel any sort of sympathy for is Lillian Rearden, one of the bad guys I’m not supposed to side with. I feel bad for her because she a) is an intelligent, self-respecting person with human feelings (versus philosophical android feelings) and b) remains dignified after her feelings have been hurt. I feel less sorry for Eddie Willers because he is a sycophantic (albeit good-natured and harmless) half-wit and therefore does not satisfy condition a. Sometimes, it’s just hard to feel that sorry for a retarded puppy who’s constantly asking for abuse.
Outside the soap opera, shit is also happening. The US economy is in shambles due to the bad legislation passed by the bad, incompetent characters. The US government is on the brink of declaring itself a socialist state. Things are bad and going to get worse before they get better. A few more philosophical concepts, such as the “sanction of the victim” and “money is the root of all good” are thrown around and hammered into the reader’s mind via hundreds of pages of explication.
In spite of my complaints, I am enjoying the book because Rand has some interesting, awesome ideas and an intense, captivating style that makes her long-windedness and repetitiveness ok.