A Hugh Akston
A famous philosopher, “the last advocate of reason” and a renowned teacher at the Patrick Henry University; John Galt, Francisco d’Anconia, and Ragnar Danneskjold were his students. Galt persuades him to leave the society that rejects reason and to join his cause, and Akston accepts, moving deep into the countryside and opening a small diner. In Galt’s utopian refuge, Akston dedicates all of his intellectual power to educating others in the philosophy of reason.
B Dr. Floyd Ferris
Stadler describes Ferris as “the valet of science,” who once used to be a biologist, but has become a politician. Ferris supports the immoral communist rule, publishes a scientific book on the meaninglessness of reason, and gets a lot of money from the government to devise the secret project X-a deadly weapon similar to the atomic bomb. Ferris is the representative of corruption in science.
C Orren Boyle
The president of Associated Steel, Boyle works closely with the government to ensure his success in business. He bribes politicians to eliminate his competition, especially the steel industry owned by Hank Rearden. Boyle can sell defective steel because it is the only product on the market; however, constructions of his material collapse and people get killed. Boyle is an illustration of corruption in industry.
D Cherryl Brooks
A salesgirl at a dime store who catches Jim Taggart’s eye because she naively considers him a national hero. Before Cherryl realizes that Jim has been taking credit for all of Dagny’s visionary achievements at the railroad, the two are married. Her husband uses her to gain popularity as a man of the people who embraces the working class.
E Kip Chalmers
A petty politician whose arrogance and ignorance leads to the disaster in the Taggart Tunnel.
F Ken Danagger
The last competent producer of coal in the country nearing economic collapse. He secretly purchases much-needed Rearden Metal from Hank, because the portion assigned by the government is not enough to keep his business running. The illegal sale is discovered and the two of them are sued, but before the trial, John Galt pays Danagger a visit and persuades him to join the revolution.
G Francisco d’Anconia
In his conversations with Hank Rearden (whom he eventually converts to Galt’s revolution), Francisco serves as the author’s mouthpiece, preaching the Objectivist philosophy in many areas of human life, from industry to sex to psychology. He is a brilliant businessman and heir to the largest and oldest company on earth, d’Anconia Copper, which originated in Argentina but has expanded over several generations to all the parts of the world. Superbly intelligent, ingenious, energetic, and determined, Francisco is Dagny’s childhood friend and first lover; the two of them share the concept of a world of invention and productivity, and both believe in the inherent morality of capitalism.
About his family, Francisco says, “None of us has ever been permitted to think he is born d’Anconia. We are expected to become one.” In that sense, Francisco is also a self-made man: he worked in the mines since childhood and independently acquired his first copper mine at the age of 20, parallel with his college degree. At the Patrick Henry University he befriends two brilliant students with whom he forms a trio of prodigies, the future leaders of the John Galt revolution. As part of his fight, Francisco has the difficult task of sacrificing his family business so that it does not become a tool in the communist system of corruption. He conducts a gigantic cover-up to present his company as still successful, while he invests in dry copper mines and even sabotages the productive ones.
H Quentin Daniels
A young physicist who used to study at the Utah Institute of Technology, but now works at the deserted institute as a night watchman. Dr. Stadler recommends him to Dagny when she asks for someone who would be able to recreate the innovative motor. Daniels accepts the assignment, but John Galt discovers his work and persuades him to quit before the motor is finished.
I Ragnar Danneskjold
A member of the brilliant trio from the Patrick Henry University, who participates in Galt’s fight by becoming a pirate and sabotaging the communist world’s ocean trade.
J John Galt
The identity of this character is the element of mystery in the novel from the first line: “Who is John Galt?” As the existing world order collapses, Galt arrives as a mythological figure, the savior with a master plan: he is the leader of the movement that works to destroy corrupt communist rule in America. Long before Galt appears in the novel and his revolution announces itself, his name becomes a part of the slang, popularized among everyday people: it represents apathy, fear, and the futility of their life in the status quo.
A self-made man and a brilliant student of science and philosophy at the Patrick Henry University (along with Francisco d’Anconia and Ragnar Danneskjold), Galt realizes that his world can only be saved through the destruction of communism and reinvention of capitalism. After he persuades his aforementioned school friends to join his cause, Galt and his small but quickly growing army get to work to find and “convert” as many people as possible to their revolutionary ideology.
The rebels gather the competent and the creative members of the society into a sabotage operation: Galt’s disciples simply leave their work and get petty jobs instead, thus making once productive resources, factories, and industries absolutely useless for the political parasites. Then, Galt forms a new world under the sacred sign of the dollar, a capitalist Atlantis where everything is earned by one’s own work.
Galt is the man of the mind, superbly rational, intelligent, brave, perfectly self-confident, and serene. Rand intended her hero to be somewhat abstract and symbolic, almost god-like. She stated, “One does not approach a god too closely-one does not get too intimate with him-one maintains a respectful distance from his inner life.” Galt is the embodiment of Rand’s Objectivist philosophy (which he explains in a 60-page speech near the novel’s end), her “ideal man,” and the perfect counterpart for the novel’s heroine, Dagny Taggart.
K Richard Halley
The composer of music that celebrates individual achievement; Dagny remains a fan of his concertos long after they are dismissed by the public as old-fashioned.
See Henry Readen
See James Taggart
N Owen Kellogg
A competent young engineer who used to run the Taggart Terminal. Dagny offers him a better job with more responsibility on the railroad, but he quits to join Galt’s revolution.
O Paul Larkin
Hank Rearden’s devotee who depends on his charity for a living. When the government passes the law that prohibits one person to own more than one business, Hank has to sell his iron ore mines to his friend. Larkin, unable to do business well, lets the mines disintegrate; eventually, he openly joins the communal majority, which defends the weak and unable like himself, and turns against his benefactor.
P Wesley Mouch
Rearden’s lobbyist in Washington, although he sells out his services to the highest bidder. He works with Orren Boyle and Jim Taggart until he gains true political power with presiding assignments to various committees. One of his new positions is the Top Coordinator of the Bureau of Economic Planning and National Resources, which “kills” Ellis Wyatt’s oil business and seriously harms Hank Rearden’s company. Mouch is also one of the people behind the creation of the deadly Project X.
Q Midas Mulligan
A banker who deserts the old world, which judges him as selfish; he is one of the originators of Galt’s valley.
R Henry Rearden
Henry Rearden (also known as Hank) is a self-made businessman, the embodiment of the rags-to-riches American dream who starts at the societal bottom and reaches the top with hard work and dedication. Hank begins to work in steel mills at the age of fourteen, and makes rapid progress thanks to his sense of leadership, responsibility, and skill. At the age of 45, he owns Rearden Steel and several related businesses; also, he spends ten years of his life in experiments for Rearden Metal, which promises to revolutionize modern metallurgy. Hank has the society working against him, however, including his parasitic family and his manipulative wife, Lillian, who lives to control him. He allows their abuse because they manage to persuade him that his ascetic devotion to business is inhuman; Hank is told all of his life that desire, be it professional or physical, is the lowest of all vices. Also, he believes that his enemies are harmless and that it does not bother him to carry a few social parasites on his back.
Hank falls in love with his business associate Dagny Taggart and befriends the libertine businessman Francisco d’Anconia, who slowly prepares him to stop supporting the society that abuses him. As the communist regime begins to feel the approaching economic collapse of the country, the so-called looters begin to rely more and more heavily on the work of the competent individuals, including Hank. Rearden Steel is decimated through various directives that take away Hank’s accomplishments and production and distribute them to the “public” in the name of equality. Hank becomes increasingly devastated by the situation in the country and the world through his encounters with the sinister looters, who have all the power. Gradually, Hank realizes that the parasites can only have the power he is willing to give them with his work, and joins Galt’s revolution.
S Lilian Rearden
Lillian is Hank’s cold and calculating wife, whose aim in life is to have as respectable a social standing as possible. She is an expert in manipulating people by offering them what they want; Hank marries her because she appears fascinated by the purpose of his life, his work, and his business. Coming from an old family with a distinguished social position and a modest financial standing, Lillian had access to the top layer of New York’s society, where she met Hank, a newcomer industrialist. She is graceful, elegant, always in control; also, she enjoys using her high-class charm and eloquence ironically at parties and family gatherings to put down her husband’s dedication to his work as something low-class and indecent. Although she lives off of Hank’s money, she maintains strong relations with the movers and the shakers of the corrupt system and supports their ideology. Lillian’s ultimate goal is to control her husband socially; she gets a chance to do so when she discovers that he has a lover, but her plan fails.
T Dr. Robert Stadler
Founder of the State Science Institute, an establishment of scientific research which was supposed to be free of governmental influence; however, this changes in the corrupt society. Stadler, once famous for saying, “Free scientific inquiry? The first adjective is redundant,” used to teach physics at the Patrick Henry University and had the same three brilliant students who later started the rebellion against the corrupt system. In fact, Stadler and Akston used to compete for the three students, but Akston won with his philosophy of logic and purpose. In turn, Stadler eventually gets caught in the compromise between his Institute work and the governmental corruption, which uses his research facility to create a deadly weapon, proportionate to the atomic bomb. He rationalizes his participation in it until the end.
U Dagny Taggart
Dagny, in Rand’s words, is both her epitome of an ideal woman, and “[her]self, with any possible flaws eliminated.” She is resolute, intelligent, ambitious, adventurous and strong; in her 30s, she is the vice president in charge of operations who actually runs Taggart Transcontinental, the family business inherited by her weak and indecisive brother. In the existing social system, Dagny is a threat because she functions on the principle of capitalism: she works for her money, takes chances on new and possibly profitable inventions (such as Rearden Metal), and values her workers and business partners on the sole basis of their job performance. The railroad is Dagny’s purpose, her life’s work, and her pride, but although her competence and toughness earn her the respect of her workers, the communist supporters (including her brother) condemn her as selfish, unfeeling, unfeminine, and materialistic. At the same time, however, they rely on her skill to provide the services they are not capable of carrying out.
Since her childhood, Dagny was aware that the family railroad was to be her life; she excelled in her engineering studies and worked her way up in the company, where nobody expected her to be so successful in running the place. An uncompromising capitalist with firm moral beliefs, Dagny can only love men who share her views: her childhood friend and first lover, Francisco d’Anconia; her business associate Hank Rearden; and finally the leader of the revolution and her ideological soulmate, John Galt.
As the country begins to falter, Dagny fights courageously not only for her railroad, but for everything good and productive in human civilization. When she becomes aware that there is a “destroyer” who talks all the competent businesspeople into quitting, she goes after him and even crashes into his secret headquarters; she is the only person to succeed in finding John Galt. Dagny is the last person Galt manages to recruit from the decaying old world.
V James Taggart
Dagny’s older brother James Taggart (also known as Jim) is an example of a failed individual by Rand’s standards. Jim is the president of the railroad who got the position on the basis of tradition instead of merit. He is a weak, indecisive, malevolent man who fears change and responsibility. Therefore, the ideology of the existing political order works for him, and he supports the directives that make him better off than his competitors. The corruption ultimately hurts his company along with the rest of the country’s economy, but he does not mind as long as nobody blames him.
Jim hates and fears his sister and her friends and considers them cruel users of the people, but he is also aware of their powerful ability to make the industry work, which he cannot do. He joins the communist majority and takes pleasure in seeing Dagny suffer under the legislative regime he supports; the degradation of others is his only source of self-confidence. He even marries a poor salesgirl to have someone who would always look up to him.
W Nathaniel Taggart
Dagny’s famous ancestor, the founder of Taggart Transcontinental, whose life is a hard-core declaration of laissez-faire capitalism. Dagny often finds inspiration in his larger-than-life statue in the concourse of the Taggart Terminal.
X The Wet Nurse
A nickname given to a boy fresh out of college who is government-appointed to oversee Rearden Steel and make sure that Hank’s business runs according to the regulations. Although he espouses the current ideology, the boy begins to admire Hank and his work ethics. He is the example of the social corruption in education, which apparently can be reversed with hands-on experience of “honest work.”
Y Eddie Willers
Dagny’s assistant at the Taggart Transcontinental, he is an efficient and dedicated worker, extremely loyal to his childhood friend Dagny. Eddie unknowingly reveals all of her plans and business secrets to an anonymous railroad worker, who turns out to be John Galt.