Podcast #22: Explore Atlas Shrugged, Session 5

 Posted by on 12 November 2009 at 1:00 am  Podcasts
Nov 122009

For Monday’s episode of Philosophy in Action Radio, I posted a preview of my podcast and study questions for “Explore Atlas Shrugged, Session 5.”

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 5 of Explore Atlas Shrugged covers:

  • Part 1: Chapter 9: The Sacred and the Profane
  • Part 1: Chapter 10: Wyatt’s Torch (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 9: The Sacred and the Profane

Section 1 (253-256)

Hank Rearden and Dagny Taggart awake after their first night together. They speak about their affair.

Core Question

  • What does Hank say to Dagny after their first night together? Why? What does Dagny say in response? Why? (254-6)

Extra Questions

  • What does Dagny think and feel before Hank speaks to her? Why? (253-4)
  • What does Dagny think and feel as Hank speaks? Why does her reaction change as he speaks? (254-5)
  • Why would Hank give up every “height of virtue” for the “depravity” of his affair with Dagny? What is Dagny’s view of that – and why? (254-6)
  • Why do Hank and Dagny have sex again after this exchange of words? (256)
  • What might have been the results if Dagny were more direct and clear with Hank about her views of sex in this conversation? (254-6)

Section 2 (256-267)

Jim Taggart meets and spends the evening with Cherryl Brooks.

Core Questions

  • What kind of person is Cherryl Brooks? What does she think of Jim? How and why does she misunderstand what he says? (257-67)
  • What does Jim think of Cherryl? How and why does he take pleasure in her admiration of him? How is she different from other girls he has known? (260)

Extra Questions

  • What is Jim’s mood in the hours after the successful first run of the John Galt Line? Why? (256-7)
  • Why does Jim take pleasure in the thought that the dime store will go out of business soon? What does that reveal about his values? (257)
  • Why is Cherryl disturbed by the thought that Jim isn’t happy? How does she resolve that unease in her own mind? (258-9, 262-6)
  • What does Cherryl’s history with her family in Buffalo reveal about her character? How is she different from most of the people around her? (261-2)
  • What philosophic views does Jim espouse when he talks to Cherryl? What is the common underlying theme? What is Cherryl’s response? (258-67)
  • Why does Jim think of sleeping with Cherryl but then not pursue that? How and why does he suggest that possibility to her? What is her reaction? (266-7)
  • Why does Jim feel that his evening with Cherryl has been his revenge on every person who cheered the John Galt Line? (267)

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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