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Finishing up Chapter 3.

As Dagny Taggart is leaving Taggart Transcontinental, it is a statue of her ancestor Nat Taggart that prompts her to muse about him. The statue itself, though, is worthy of description: “He held his head as if he faced a challenge and found joy in his capacity to meet it.” I haven’t listed every occurrence, but this is a common theme found throughout Atlas.

Also in passing, Eddie Willers is the only other person still working in his office. Eddie, again, represents the hard-working everyman who is not a hero, yet essentially worships one: Sam to Dagny’s Frodo, broadly speaking, although I don’t think there’s evidence of a particular love there on Dagny’s part (though certainly friendliness).

Dagny leaves and chats with the vendor at a newsstand, whom Dagny has apparently known for a long time. He collects cigarettes, and we learn that all the brands are slowly disappearing, with no new ones being made. He mentions something which has always stayed with me, a poetic vision which I’ll quote here in its entirety:

“I like cigarettes, Miss Taggart. I like to think of fire held in a man’s hand. Fire, a dangerous force, tamed at his fingertips. I often wonder about the hours when a man sits alone, watching the smoke of a cigarette, thinking. I wonder what great things have come from such hours. When a man thinks, there is a spot of fire alive in his mind — and it is proper that he should have the burning point of a cigarette as his one expression.”

The conversation ends with the vendor tossing off “Who is John Galt?” and Dagny reacting sharply in dislike to the phrase.

Meanwhile, Eddie goes to the cafeteria, where he chats with an anonymous worker whom he had met several times before. This conversation is written only from the view of Eddie, as if the reader were overhearing one side of a telephone conversation. He expresses to the man how the Rio Norte line is the last hope of Taggart Transcontinental. One “McNamara” of Cleveland is the contractor who will be laying the first shipment of rail for the line, apparently another competent entrepreneur. Eddie finishes, apparently at the man’s prompting, by giving some personal details of Dagny Taggart, such as how she likes the music of Richard Halley.

Small spoiler:

Pretty sure the nameless worker was in fact John Galt, thus starting to answer the explicit question right before the scene.

And thus we wrap up Chapter 3, The Top and the Bottom. Oh, and by the way, the cafeteria is at the bottom of the Taggart Transcontinental building, making a nice symmetry with the initial scene in the bar.

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