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Dagny Taggart and Dan Conway continue to talk. Dan, who doesn’t want to fight any more, makes weak noises about fishing in his retirement. ‘ “Why should you worry about me?”

“It’s not about you, it’s … Dan,” she said suddenly, “I hope you know it’s not for your sake that that I wanted to help you fight.” […] “It’s not out of pity or charity or any ugly reason like that. Look, I intended to give you the battle of your life, down there in Colorado. I intended to cut into your business and squeeze you to the wall and drive you out, if necessary.”

He chuckled faintly; it was appreciation.’

Dagny eventually breaks down at one point: ‘ “Oh, God, Dan, I don’t want to be a looter!” ‘

As an aside here, I can imagine some people catcalling that last line, and that thought makes me cringe. I want to defend it. First of all, everyone should be on board with the idea that they shouldn’t benefit at the expense of others, because that’s what Dagny is saying: she doesn’t want to be handed Dan’s business by fiat, she wants to win it by being the better, more talented businessperson.

To put it a different way, imagine being a very good racer. You run well, and you want to pit yourself against the best; feeling their competition is partly what spurs you to the pinnacle of excellence yourself. Then, all of a sudden, the scheduled Olympics are cancelled, and instead everyone is receiving bronze medals through the mail. How do you feel?

To wrap the scene up: Dan revives enough to command Dagny to work hard on the Rio Norte Line, because otherwise it will be the end of Ellis Wyatt and the other “best people left in the country.” He ends by saying that it’s all on her shoulders now, and that he thinks she’s going to have a rougher time than he has had.

I’m trying to wrap my head around that last bit about helping Ellis Wyatt and the others. Either Dan (the character) is contradicting the idea that the dynamic entrepreneurs are not interested in helping other people (or at least that’s not their business motive), or Rand is not being consistent about the message here. Is it okay to do things because it will help the “best people”, rather than the looters? I’m pretty sure the message elsewhere has been that helping is not to be encouraged under any circumstances. I’m not trying to troll here, but I’m sensing a false note. We shall see if things are clarified later.