This preview is part of Explore Atlas Shrugged, philosopher Diana Brickell's course on Ayn Rand's novel Atlas Shrugged. The course includes over 22 hours of podcasts, 1400 study questions, and other resources. It will inspire fresh insights into the complex events, characters, and ideas of this epic novel – whether you've read it just once or a dozen times before.
You can purchase access to the whole of Explore Atlas Shrugged for just $20. The written materials in the course are also available from Amazon in paperback and kindle formats, and purchasers of those editions just pay $10 for access to the podcasts.
Questions for a Three-Session Book Club
The following set of questions is intended for discussion of Atlas Shrugged over the course of three sessions, such as in a book club. As always, the page numbers found in parentheses refer to the hardcover, softcover, and kindle editions of Atlas Shrugged, not the small mass market paperback.
Part 1: Non-Contradiction
- What is the state of the world? How is it similar to and different from our world today? (3-26)
- What kind of relationship does Hank Rearden have with his wife Lillian Rearden? How are they different? What keeps each of them in the marriage? Is staying together a mistake? Why or why not? (27-43, 127-61, 304-9)
- What is the deal struck by Jim Taggart, Orren Boyle, Paul Larkin, and Wesley Mouch in the meeting at the bar? What does each man offer and each man receive? What are the economic effects of the deal? Is that free-market capitalism at work – or something else? (44-50, 75, 224-5, 394-5)
- What is the basic story of the San Sebastián Mines and Line? What parts did (and do) Jim Taggart, Dagny Taggart, and Francisco d'Anconia play? What does that reveal about each of them? (48-9, 50-62, 72-3, 122-5)
- What was Dagny Taggart's relationship with Francisco d'Anconia as a child and then as young woman? Was their sexual relationship right or wrong? Why can't Dagny reconcile that past with what she knows of Francisco now? (90-126, 145-9, 197-201)
- Why does Dr. Robert Stadler refuse to retract the State Science Institute's statement on Rearden Metal? What does that reveal about him and his principles? What should he do – and why? (185-92)
- What is the Equalization of Opportunity Bill? What are its practical and psychological effects on Hank Rearden? Is it a just and fair law? Why or why not? (132-6, 212-6, 221-5)
- What obstacles does Dagny Taggart face as she builds the Rio Norte Line (a.k.a. the John Galt Line)? What qualities of character help her overcome those obstacles? Are those qualities admirable or self-serving – or both? Why? (18-26, 162-78, 182-205, 219-21, 227-52)
- Why do Hank Rearden and Dagny Taggart sleep together after the first run of the John Galt Line? How do their views of that first night differ? Who is right? Why? (250-2, 253-6)
- Why is Cherryl Brooks in awe of Jim Taggart upon meeting him? Why doesn't she see through him? Why is he interested in her? (256-67)
- Why is Dagny Taggart so excited by the motor at the Twentieth Century Motor Company? What does she later discover about the history of the Twentieth Century Motor Company? Why is that quest so important to her? (287-91, 292-332)
- What will be the effects of the new "Fair Share" directives? Why were they passed? How does Ellis Wyatt react – and why? Is he right or wrong? (333-6, 81-2)