Podcast #22: Explore Atlas Shrugged, Session 3

 Posted by on 20 October 2009 at 4:38 pm  Podcasts
Oct 202009

For Monday’s episode of Philosophy in Action Radio, I posted a preview of my podcast and study questions for “Explore Atlas Shrugged, Session 3.”

The online version of Explore Atlas Shrugged – meaning, all 20 sessions of podcasts and study questions, plus other resources – can be purchased for just $20. The written materials are also available from Amazon in paperback and kindle formats, and purchasers of those editions pay just $10 for access to the podcasts. For more information, including previews of other sessions, visit Explore Atlas Shrugged.

Session 3 of Explore Atlas Shrugged covers:

  • Part 1: Chapter 6: The Non-Commercial
  • Part 1: Chapter 7: The Exploiters and the Exploited (Sections 1-4)

Preview the Podcast

Listen or Download:

Preview the Study Questions

Note: The pagination of the hardcover, softcover, and kindle editions differs from that of the small mass market paperback. The study questions cite only the pagination from the larger editions. I don’t recommend using the mass market paperback.

Part 1: Chapter 6: The Non-Commercial

Section 1 (127-157)

Hank Rearden attends his anniversary party, to which Lillian Rearden has invited mostly her friends. Guests discuss the pending Equalization of Opportunity Bill, Hank speaks with unexpected guest Francisco d’Anconia, and Dagny Taggart trades her diamond bracelet for Lillian’s bracelet of Rearden Metal.

Core Questions

  • How – and why – does Hank struggle to play his role at his anniversary party? What is the nature and source of his inner conflict? (127-31, 136-40)
  • What is the Equalization of Opportunity Bill? What is its analogy in our laws? What does Hank think of it – and of its chance of being passed? (130)
  • How does Hank respond to Dagny at the party? Why is Dagny disappointed? Why does he act as he does? (137-8, 144, 149-51)
  • Why is Hank so angry at the presence of Bertram Scudder? How and why does Lillian respond as she does to Hank’s anger? Why did she invite Scudder to the party? (139-40)
  • How does Francisco explain the worthlessness of the San Sebastián Mines to Jim Taggart? What moral principles did Francisco act on in that endeavor? How does Jim react – and why? (142-4)
  • What does Hank reveal about his view of the world in his conversation with Francisco? How do their outlooks differ? How does Francisco want to arm Hank for the future? Why does the conversation matter so much to Hank? (145-9)
  • What events lead to Dagny’s demand for the Rearden Metal bracelet from Lillian? What is Dagny’s state of mind before, during, and after the exchange? Why does Lillian agree to trade it with her? How does Hank respond to that exchange – and why? (154-7)

Extra Questions

  • Why does Hank think himself obliged to give his wife “some form of existence unrelated to business”? Why and how does he fail? What is his family’s response to that failure? (128-9)
  • Why does Lillian wear the bracelet of Rearden Metal – and wear it in the way that she does – to the anniversary party? Why does Hank want to tear it off of her? (131)
  • What does the conversation of the ordinary people at the party reveal about the state of the culture? How are these people different from the intellectuals? (131-6, 151-4)
  • What philosophical ideas does Dr. Simon Pritchett espouse? How do those ideas lead him to support the Equalization of Opportunity Bill? (131-3)
  • What kind of artists are Balph Eubank and Mort Liddy? Who are their counterparts in our culture? (133-4)
  • Why do Bertram Scudder, Philip Rearden, and Claude Slagenhop support the Equalization of Opportunity Bill? Are their reasons sound? (134-6)
  • What is the significance of the fact that the Equalization of Opportunity Bill is backed by the Friends of Global Progress? (135-6, 40-3)
  • Is “the look of being chained” the “most feminine of all aspects”? Why or why not? (136)
  • Why does Lillian say that “the wife of a great man has to be contented with reflected glory”? Does she mean it – and, if so, in what way? Why does Dagny disagree? (137)
  • Why does Balph Eubank tell Jim that his sister Dagny is famous? What does Eubank think of what she is – and what she should be? (138)
  • Why does Hank ask Lillian to steer him clear of Francisco? What does he think of Francisco? What does Lillian think of Francisco? Why? (140)
  • Why does Hank resent Lillian’s and Philip’s seeming attempts to ensure that he’s enjoying himself at the party? Why is he bothered by his mother’s stories of his rise? What motivates her to tell such stories? (144-5)
  • Why does Francisco offer to leave the party upon introducing himself to Hank? What effect does that have on Hank – and why? (145)
  • What is the significance of Francisco’s gratitude to Hank? Does Hank need that gratitude? Why or why not? (146-7)
  • Why is the conversation between Hank and Francisco so surprising to Dagny? How does it differ – in style and in substance – from Francisco’s conversations with Jim and others at the party? (149)
  • Why does Hank tell Dagny that he invited Bertram Scudder to the party, given his prior anger that Lillian invited Scudder? (149-50, 139)
  • Why is Dagny glad that Hank didn’t seem to understand her remarks about the meaning of celebration? What did she reveal? (150)
  • Who is Ragnar Danneskjöld? Why are the people around the fireplace so disturbed by his exploits? (151-3)
  • What account of John Galt does the woman tell Dagny? How is it true as an allegory? (153-4)
  • What is Dagny’s style of femininity? (154, 136)
  • Why does Francisco say to Dagny, “What a magnificent waste!” as he looks at her body? How does that capture her own feelings about the evening? (154-5)
  • What pleasure does Dagny take in wearing the bracelet of Rearden Metal? Why is that unusual for her? (156)

About Explore Atlas Shrugged

Explore Atlas Shrugged is a series of 20 sessions of podcasts and study questions by me, philosopher Dr. Diana Hsieh. Each session covers about 65 pages of the novel, organized chapter-by-chapter and section-by-section. The podcasts are an in-depth look at the events, characters, and ideas from that portion of the novel. The whole series contains over 22 hours of lively and engaging discussion in podcast form. The study questions will help you better understand the novel on your own – or help you lead an engaging reading group. The series includes over 1400 questions, organized into “core” and “extra” categories.

You can preview the full series of podcasts and questions, as well as purchase access for just $20, here: Explore Atlas Shrugged. You can also purchase the series below.

Also, the written materials are available from Amazon in paperback and kindle formats, and purchasers of those editions pay just $10 for access to the podcasts.

Purchase Explore Atlas Shrugged

Access to the online version of Explore Atlas Shrugged costs just $20. It’s half off – just $10 – for purchasers of the paperback and kindle editions of the book version. Also, if you contribute to Philosophy in Action’s Tip Jar via recurring weekly or monthly contributions (or the equivalent), please email me for free access.

Terms of Sale: (1) You may share the podcasts with members of your household, but not beyond that. (2) You may share the study questions with members of your household, as well as with participants in your online or in-person Atlas Shrugged Reading Group. (3) Do not ever post the podcasts or study questions in any public forum.

Items: Course: Explore Atlas Shrugged ($20)
Course: Explore Atlas Shrugged (Half Price Discount) ($10)
Note: This half-price discount is only available to purchasers of a paperback or kindle edition of Explore Atlas Shrugged. Please email me a screenshot or picture as proof.

Praise for Explore Atlas Shrugged

The response to Explore Atlas Shrugged has been overwhelmingly positive, including the following remarks:

I require students to read Atlas Shrugged in my introductory economics class. Dr. Hsieh’s Explore Atlas Shrugged podcasts were an essential tool to help communicate the novel’s lesson and hold effective class discussion. Do not attempt to teach the book without consulting the podcasts first!

— Bailey Norwood, Associate Professor, Department of Agricultural Economics, Oklahoma State University


Thank you, thank you, thank you, Diana – our GLO Atlas Reading Group is going so very well. We have about 12-13 people attending, and it is truly the most fun we’ve had in a long time. So much rewarding fun comes out of your ideas and organization. Can’t thank you enough for your efforts!!!


I just wanted to send you a quick note and thank you for your efforts on Explore Atlas Shrugged. As part of the Charm City Objectivists Society we used your questions and podcast to help kick off our reading group yesterday for session one. We had epiphanies all around the table from someone who is a firm student of Objectivism to a person who had read Atlas Shrugged but is new to Objectivism. I know that neither Ray (our moderator) or myself could have undertaken this kind of thing without the wonderful resource you have created. You have helped me make a difference in my community and I thank you for it.


The other day, I began listening to your Explore Atlas Shrugged podcasts. I have read and listened to the book several times, but it has been admittedly too long since the last time. Although I can not adequately express how much experiencing your podcasts has meant to me and the extent to which they have reinvigorated me, I did want to thank you…Thank you.

About Philosophy in Action Radio

Philosophy in Action Radio focuses on the application of rational principles to the challenges of real life. It broadcasts live on most Sunday mornings and many Thursday evenings over the internet. For information on upcoming shows, visit the Episodes on Tap. For podcasts of past shows, visit the Show Archives.

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