Podcast #29: Explore Atlas Shrugged, Session 12

 Posted by on 22 February 2010 at 8:00 am  Podcasts
Feb 222010

For Friday’s episode of Philosophy in Action Radio, I posted a preview of my podcast and study questions for “Explore Atlas Shrugged, Session 12.”

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 12 of Explore Atlas Shrugged covers:

  • Part 3: Chapter 1: Atlantis

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 3: Chapter 1: Atlantis

Section 1 (701-733)

Dagny Taggart awakens after her plane crash to find herself face-to-face with John Galt in a hidden valley. She meets Dr. Hugh Akston and Midas Mulligan, and Dr. Robert Hendricks treats her injuries. Quentin Daniels rushes in to apologize for leaving Utah. John takes Dagny for a car ride through the valley. He shows her the people that he has taken from her, and then he stops at the power station that uses his motor. Finally, Dagny takes a much-needed nap.

Core Questions

  • What does Dagny see in and feel for John when she first meets him? Can one person see that much in another at first sight? (701-2, 704)
  • How does John sport with Dagny? Why does he do that? What does that reveal about him? (702-13, 727)
  • What major discoveries does Dagny make about John in this initial meeting? Who is he? Why does that matter to her? What does she think of and feel for him? (706, 710-11, 701-16)
  • What is the attitude of the residents of the valley toward their past work in the outside world and their present work in the valley? In what way are all these people simply “living” in the valley? How does Dagny’s view differ? (713, 717-27)
  • Why does Midas Mulligan charge John a fee to use his car rather than allowing him to use it for free? Is that reason right? Should we live in the same way? Why or why not? (713-4)
  • Why is Dagny penniless in the valley? Why won’t anyone sell her any gold? (717-8, 727-8)
  • Why is one gallon of Ellis Wyatt’s oil in the valley worth more to him than a trainful of oil in the outside world? Is he right? (721-2)
  • How and why did Andrew Stockton ruin his competitor? What are the practical results of that? How and why does Stockton want to be ruined in turn? What does that reveal about the view of competition in the valley? (723-5)
  • How does Dagny respond to seeing the powerhouse? Why? How does it affect her view of John? (730-3)
  • What is John’s oath? What is its meaning and significance to him and the other people in the valley? (731)

Extra Questions

  • What does John mean when he tells Dagny that the valley is the Taggart Terminal? What does he mean when he tells her that a person can leave the valley temporarily but not actually? (702-3)
  • Why is the valley hidden by a ray screen? What would happen if the valley were to be discovered? (704)
  • What is the meaning of the gold dollar sign in the town? (706)
  • Why does Dagny think that she should have realized that John invented the motor? (706)
  • In what way is Dagny the first “scab”? (707)
  • How has Quentin Daniels “gone the whole way by himself”? (707)
  • Why does Dagny wince upon hearing Hank Rearden’s name? How does John respond to that? (707-8)
  • In what way have the people of the valley been trying to reach Dagny? (709)
  • What is the “first rule” of the valley? Why is that important? How is that practiced? (709)
  • What does John mean when he tells Dagny that “the contradiction” destroyed the John Galt Line? (710)
  • What did John do to stop the motor of the world? What is the significance of that? (710)
  • How long has John been watching Dagny? What is her response to that? (711)
  • Who is Dr. Thomas Hendricks? Why is Dagny surprised to see him? (711)
  • What does John mean in speaking of “the one and only time” when he didn’t think of Dagny? Why does he speak so plainly? (712)
  • How is Dagny’s breakfast the most expensive and the cheapest that she’s ever eaten? (713)
  • How did John introduce himself to Quentin Daniels? Why didn’t Daniels need to think twice about his choice between the outside world and John? How and why is he different from Dagny? (715)
  • How and why is Sanders Aircraft wherever Dwight Sanders is? (717)
  • What is Dagny’s reaction to the three professors who work for Dick McNamara? Is her implicit criticism right or wrong? (718-9)
  • Why does McNamara suggest that he followed the John Galt Line, while Dagny betrayed it? Is he right? (719)
  • Why does John reject Dagny’s statement that she lost the men in the valley, instead insisting that he took them away from her? What does that reveal about his moral character? (719)
  • Why does Dagny think that the jobs in the valley are lousy? Why does Ellis Wyatt disagree? Who is right? (721)
  • What is the practical effect of the increased productivity identified by Wyatt? How and why is that effect important to a person’s life? (722)
  • Why can’t Dagny imagine John submitting to the looters? (722)
  • Why does Dagny feel that Hank Rearden’s presence in the valley is both impossible and perfectly right? (724)
  • Why is Dagny so shocked to hear Andrew Stockton advocate for hiring the best man for the job? Why is that right? (725-6)
  • What does Dagny think upon seeing actress Kay Ludlow working in a cafeteria? Is she right? (727)
  • Why is Dagny surprised to find that Midas Mulligan mints coins? What does that mean to her? (727-8)
  • How does Francisco d’Anconia’s house differ from the homes of the other strikers? What does it remind her of? Why? (728-9)
  • What does John know of Dagny’s past relationship with Francisco? How does he know that? (729)
  • How does the lock of the powerhouse operate? Why is that important? Why wouldn’t Dagny dream of breaking into the powerhouse? (733)
  • What does Dagny feel upon falling asleep for her nap? (733)

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.

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