Finishing The Chain.
Two final shots: Philip “brags” that he is not collecting money for any personal, selfish reasons, which causes disgust in Hank. Further, Philip asks if he can have Hank’s donation in cash so that they can avoid having Hank’s name attached to the charity, which should generally cause disgust in anyone as reprehensible hypocrisy.
Paul Larkin tells Hank that he shouldn’t have given Philip the money, which, in a rare note for Rand, speaks well for a character that she intends to be a bad example, but Lillian Rearden contradicts him, ultimately saying that it is representative of how they are all “in bondage” to Hank, as is the chain he has given her.
To address the first point, which I’ve decided to tag as the virtue of selfishness: I agree with Rand’s implication that it’s twisted and bizarre to somehow believe that the ideal to aspire to is to have absolutely no personal stake whatsoever in any sort of giving or charity. Why in the world should anyone not take personal satisfaction from what they do, or in working towards their goals (charitable or otherwise)? Further, if they would enjoy the publicity of their work, why not have it? It does in principle take away resources from the actual cause being championed, but if the balance sheet comes out ahead in terms of pursuing the goals of the charity, then there should be no problem with this.
There does seem to be an element of unfairness that someone who gives a larger absolute donation to something, but a much smaller fraction of their total wealth, gets more publicity. Grist for the mill, for the future.
Finally, it is obvious that Rand means to show the exact opposite of what Lillian Rearden says: Hank is actually the one in bondage; he simply doesn’t realize it. This is, in many ways, the fundamental theme of Atlas Shrugged: those who work are effectively enslaved by those who don’t (for a very broad definition of work, which would include providing any sort of value, including non-material value such as purely emotional support or even just sincere gratitude). As usual, I’m anticipating here, but know that there will be plenty of opportunities to address this.
Thus ends “The Chain,” and on to “The Top and the Bottom” next time.