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This is a list of characters in Ayn Rand's novel, Atlas Shrugged.


Major characters

The following are major characters from the novel.[1]


Ragnar Danneskjöld

One of the original strikers. He is now world famous as a pirate. Ragnar was from Norway, the son of a bishop and the scion of one of Norway's most ancient, noble families. He attended Patrick Henry University and became friends with John Galt and Francisco d'Anconia, while studying under Hugh Akston and Robert Stadler. When he became a pirate, he was disowned and excommunicated. There is a price on his head in Norway, Portugal, and Turkey; at one point, a policeman remarks that the worldwide rewards offered for his capture total $3 million.

Danneskjöld seizes relief ships that are being sent from the United States to The People's States of Europe. As the novel progresses, Ragnar begins, for the first time, to become active in American waters, and is even spotted in Delaware Bay. Reportedly, his ship is better than any available in the fleets of the world's navies. People assume that as a pirate he simply takes the seized goods for himself. However, while many other protagonists take pride in making a personal profit from the proceeds of their creativity, Danneskjöld's motivation is to restore to other creative people the money which was unjustly taken away from them - specifically, their income tax payments.

For that purpose, Danneskjöld maintains a network of informants who provide him with detailed copies of the tax receipts; among other talents, he is mentioned as being a skilled accountant. The proceeds from the goods he seizes are deposited in accounts opened in Midas Mulligan's bank in the names of various industrialists, to the amounts of the income tax taken from them - which are handed to them (in gold) upon their joining the strikers.

Kept in the background for much of the book, Danneskjöld makes a personal appearance when he risks his life to meet Hank Rearden in the night and hand him a bar of gold as an "advance payment", to encourage Rearden to persevere in his increasingly difficult situation.

As a robber with ideological principles, Danneskjöld might be compared with Robin Hood, but he considers himself as the opposite or complete negative of that Medieval robber, and indeed he considers Robin Hood as an arch-enemy which he had sworn to pursue and destroy. Rather, not Robin Hood the person, who is long dead, but the principle that it is permissible to rob the rich and give to the poor, a principle which in Danneskjöld's (and Rand's) view is highly pernicious.

In the conversation with Rearden, Danneskjöld claims to limit himself to attacks on government property and never touch private property. This contradicts previous chapters where there is mention of Danneskjöld sinking ships belonging to d'Anconia Copper and destroying Orren Boyle's plant on the coast of Maine, where Boyle attempted to produce Rearden Metal. However, the first does not truly constitute robbery, since it was done with the consent of and in collusion with the owner, Danneskjöld's old friend Francisco d'Anconia, and was aimed at helping Francisco's efforts to destroy his own company. And the second was in reaction to Boyle having violated, with government sanction, Rearden's intellectual property.

Danneskjöld is married to the actress Kay Ludlow - a relationship kept hidden from the outside world, which only knows of Ludlow as a former famous film star who retired and dropped out of sight. It is mentioned that some of the strikers have strong reservations about his way of "conducting the common struggle".

Members of Danneskjöld's crew, other than himself, are never named nor appear in the book. In the end of the book, Danneskjöld's crew are mentioned as preparing to form a new community, while his ship would be converted into "a modest ocean liner". Danneskjöld himself refreshes his knowledge of Aristotle and prepares to become a full-time philosopher, and it is hinted that posterity might remember him mainly as Hugh Akston's disciple rather than as a pirate.

According to Barbara Branden, who was closely associated with Rand at the time the book was written, there were sections written describing directly Danneskjöld's adventures at sea which were cut out from the final published text.[2] In the published book, Danneskjöld is always seen through the eyes of others (Dagny Taggart or Hank Rearden) except for a brief paragraph at the very last chapter.

Francisco d'Anconia

One of the central characters in Atlas Shrugged. Owner by inheritance of the world's largest copper mining empire, the man behind the San Sebastián Mines, and a childhood friend and first love of Dagny Taggart.

Francisco began working on the sly as a teenager in order to learn all he could about business. While still a student at Patrick Henry University, a classmate of John Galt and Ragnar Danneskjöld and student of both Hugh Akston and Robert Stadler, he began working at a copper foundry, and investing in the stock market. By the time he was twenty he had made enough to purchase the foundry. He began working for d'Anconia Copper as assistant superintendent of a mine in Montana, but was quickly promoted to head of the New York office. In this way he proved that, though unlike other characters he was born to wealth and power, he could have made a successful career all by himself. He took over d'Anconia Copper at age 23, after the death of his father.

When he was 26, Francisco secretly joined the strikers and began to slowly destroy the d'Anconia empire so the looters could not get it. His actions were also specifically designed both to "trap" looters into relying upon, or seizing, his worthless ventures to disrupt their schemes and to try to show them and the rest of the world the inevitable consequences of looting. In the latter he failed, becoming a rather tragic, Cassandra-esque figure. He adopted the persona of a worthless playboy, by which he is known to the world, as an effective cover.

He was the childhood friend of Dagny Taggart and Eddie Willers and later became Dagny's lover. Giving her up—since, knowing her intimately, he knew she would not be ready to join the strikers—was the hardest part for him. He remains deeply in love with her to the end of the book, while also being a good and loyal friend of her other two lovers, John Galt and Hank Rearden.

His full name is Francisco Domingo Carlos Andres Sebastián d'Anconia, and he was born in Argentina.

Dr. Floyd Ferris

Ferris is a biologist who works as "co-ordinator" at the State Science Institute. He uses his position there to deride reason and productive achievement. The Institute publishes his book, Why Do You Think You Think?, in which he calls reason "an irrational idea" that is "incapable of dealing with the nature of the universe." He clashes on several occasions with Hank Rearden. When Rearden Metal is first produced, Ferris has the Institute put out a statement raising doubts about it. He twice attempts to blackmail Rearden. The first attempt, which fails, is to get him to sell Rearden Metal to the Institute for use on Project X. The second attempt, which succeeds, is to get Rearden to sign the rights to Rearden Metal over to the government. He is also one of the group of looters who tries to get Rearden to agree to the Steel Unification Plan.

Ferris hosts the demonstration of the Project X weapon, and gets Dr. Robert Stadler to publicly endorse it. When John Galt is captured by the looters, Ferris tries to convince him to help them by suggesting that one-third of children and the elderly will be executed if Galt refuses. Later he uses a device called the "Ferris Persuader" to torture Galt, but it breaks down before extracting the information Ferris wants from Galt.

John Galt

The enigmatic John Galt is the primary male hero of Atlas Shrugged. He initially appears as an unnamed menial worker for Taggart Transcontinental who often dines with Eddie Willers in the employee's cafeteria. Eddie finds him very easy to talk to, and the unnamed worker leads him on so that Eddie reveals important information about Dagny Taggart and Taggart Transcontinental; only Eddie's side of each conversation is given in the novel. Eddie tells him which suppliers and contractors Dagny is most dependent on, and with remarkable consistency, those are the next men to disappear mysteriously. Later in the novel the reader discovers the true identity of this worker is John Galt.

Wesley Mouch

The incompetent lobbyist whom Hank Rearden reluctantly employs in Washington. Later in the novel, he becomes the country's economic dictator.

Henry Rearden

Henry (also known as "Hank") is one of the central characters in Atlas Shrugged. Like many of Rand's capitalist characters, he is a self-made man who started as an ordinary worker, showed talent, founded Rearden Steel and made it the most important steel company of the US (and one of the most important businesses of any kind). Later, he conceived of and invented the Rearden Metal, a form of metal stronger than steel (it stands to steel as steel stands to ordinary iron).

He is a demanding employer, intolerant of sloppy work, but pays his workers salaries "above any union scale". He arouses a strong feeling of loyalty among the workers, and was never faced with a strike.

He lives in Philadelphia with his wife Lillian, his brother Philip, and his elderly mother (whose name never appears in the book), all of whom he supports. Gwen Ives is his secretary.

The character of Hank Rearden has two important roles to play in the novel. First, he is aware that there is something wrong with the world but is unsure of what it is. Rearden is guided toward an understanding of the solution through his friendship with Francisco d'Anconia, who does know the secret, and by this mechanism the reader is also prepared to understand the secret when it is revealed explicitly in Galt's Speech.

Second, Rearden is used to illustrate Rand's theory of sex. Lillian Rearden cannot appreciate Hank Rearden's virtues, and she is portrayed as being disgusted by sex. Dagny Taggart clearly does appreciate Rearden's virtues, and this appreciation evolves into a sexual desire. Rearden is torn by a contradiction because he accepts the premises of the traditional view of sex as a lower instinct, while responding sexually to Dagny, who represents his highest values. Rearden struggles to resolve this internal conflict and in doing so illustrates Rand's sexual theory.

Lillian Rearden

The unsupportive wife of Hank Rearden. They have been married eight years as the novel begins. Lillian is a frigid moocher who seeks to destroy her husband. She compares being Rearden's wife with owning the world's most powerful horse. Since she cannot comfortably ride a horse that goes too fast, she must bridle it down to her level, even if that means it will never reach its full potential and its power will be grievously wasted.

As her motives become more clear, Lillian is found to share the sentiments of many other moochers and their worship of destruction. Her actions are explained as the desire to destroy achievement in the false belief that such an act bestows a greatness to the destroyer equal to the accomplishment destroyed. She seeks, then, to ruin Rearden in an effort to prove her own value, but fails.

Lillian tolerates sex with her husband only because she is 'realistic' enough to know he is just a brute who requires satisfaction of his brute instincts. She indicates that she abhors Francisco d'Anconia, because she believes he is a sexual adventurer.

Dagny Taggart

Dagny Taggart is the protagonist of the novel. She is Operating Vice-President in Charge of Operations for Taggart Transcontinental, under her brother, James Taggart. However, due to James' incompetence, it is Dagny that is actually responsible for all the workings of the railroad.

Dagny encounters three romantic relationships, each with a man of ability: Francisco d'Anconia, Hank Rearden, and John Galt. Galt marks the pinnacle of everything Dagny seeks in the world and is the kind of man alluded to in her youth, whom she imagines a man, standing off in the distance, at the end of a great set of railroad tracks, at the end of all her struggles.

The essential drama of Dagny's character is her struggle to reconcile the life she lives and the railroad which she loves, with the moral code of those who wish to destroy it. She believes they simply want to heap burdens upon her, for the sake of others, which she has the ability to carry. Like Hank, she believes they basically want to live, but are too stupid and incompetent to realize how their duties and altruistic projects impede that goal. It is not until she sees the man most important to her in the world - John Galt - strapped to a torture machine, about to be killed by the looters (who recognize, too, that he is the only man who can save them from economic collapse), that she realizes that the moral code of the looters is one of death: that they recognize what is good and necessary for life, but wish to destroy it anyway.

She is a typical Randian heroine, similar to Dominique Francon (The Fountainhead) or Kira Argounova (We the Living).

James Taggart

The President of Taggart Transcontinental and the book's most important antagonist. Taggart is an expert influence peddler who is, however, incapable of making operational decisions on his own. He relies on his sister Dagny Taggart to actually run the railroad, but nonetheless opposes her in almost every endeavor. In a sense, he is the antithesis of Dagny.

As the novel progresses, the moral philosophy of the looters is revealed: it is a code of stagnation. The goal of this code is to not exist, to not move forward, to become a zero. Taggart struggles to remain unaware that this is his goal. He maintains his pretense that he wants to live, and becomes horrified whenever his mind starts to grasp the truth about himself. This contradiction leads to the recurring absurdity of his life: the desire to destroy those on whom his life depends, and the horror that he will succeed at this. In the final chapters of the novel, he suffers a complete mental breakdown upon realizing that he can no longer deceive himself in this respect.

Dr. Robert Stadler

A former professor at Patrick Henry University, mentor to Francisco d'Anconia, John Galt and Ragnar Danneskjöld. He has since become a sell-out, one who had great promise but squandered it for social approval, to the detriment of the free. He works at the State Science Institute where all his inventions are perverted for use by the military, including the instrument of his demise: Project X. The character was, in part, modeled on J. Robert Oppenheimer, whom Rand had interviewed for an earlier project, and his part in the creation of nuclear weapons.[3]

Secondary characters

The following secondary characters also appear in the novel.[4]

  • Hugh Akston is identified as "One of the last great advocates of reason." He was a renowned philosopher and the head of the Department of Philosophy at Patrick Henry University, where he taught Francisco d'Anconia, John Galt, and Ragnar Danneskjöld. He was, along with Robert Stadler, a father figure to these three. Akston's name is so hallowed that a young lady, on hearing that Francisco had studied under him, is shocked. She thought he must have been one of those great names from an earlier century. He now works as a cook in a roadside diner, and proves extremely skillful at that. When Dagny tracks him down, and before she discovers his true identity, he rejects her enthusiastic offer to manage the dining car services for Taggart Transcontinental.
  • Jeff Allen is a tramp who stows away on a Taggart train during one of Dagny's cross-country trips. Instead of throwing him out, she allows him to ride as her guest. It is from Allen that she learns the full story behind the collapse of the Twentieth Century Motor Company, as well as a hint of John Galt's true background.
  • Calvin Atwood is owner of Atwood Light and Power Company and joins the strike.
  • Cherryl Brooks is a dime store shopgirl who marries James Taggart after a chance encounter in her store the night the John Galt Line was falsely deemed his greatest success. She marries him thinking he is the heroic person behind Taggart Transcontinental. Cherryl is at first harsh towards Dagny, having mistakenly trusted Jim Taggart's descriptions of his sister, until she questions employees of the railroad. Upon learning that her scorn had been misled, Cherryl puts off apologizing to Dagny out of shame until the night before she commits suicide, when she confesses to Dagny that when she married Jim, she thought he had the heroic qualities that she had looked up to - she thought she was marrying someone like Dagny. Upon realizing the nature of the moral code surrounding her, the apparent lack of escape for herself and the heroes she worships, and her unnamed desire to remove support from the machinations she abhors, Cherryl throws herself from a bridge to her death.
  • Mayor Bascom is the mayor of Rome, Wisconsin, who reveals part of the history of the Twentieth Century Motor Company.
  • Bill Brent is the chief dispatcher for the Colorado Division of Taggart Transcontinental, who tries to prevent the Taggart Tunnel disaster.
  • Dr. Blodgett is the scientist who pulls the lever to demonstrate Project X.
  • Orren Boyle is the head of Associated Steel and a friend of James Taggart. He is an investor in the San Sebastián Mines.
  • Laura Bradford is an actress and Kip Chalmers's mistress.
  • Kip Chalmers is a Washington man who has decided to run for election as Legislator from California. On the way to his campaign, the Taggart Transcontinental train that is carrying him encounters a split rail, resulting in the destruction of its diesel engine. His demands lead to a coal-burning steam engine being attached to his train in its stead and used to pull it through an eight-mile tunnel. The result is the suffocation of all passengers and the destruction of the Taggart Tunnel.
  • Emma Chalmers, Kip Chalmers's mother, gains some influence after his death. Known as "Kip's Ma," she starts a soybean-growing project in Louisiana and commandeers thousands of railcars to move the harvest. As a result, the year's wheat crop from Minnesota never reaches the rest of the country, but instead rots in storage; also, the soybean crop is lost, having been reaped too early.
  • Dan Conway is the middle-aged president of the Phoenix-Durango railroad. Running a railroad is just about the only thing he knows. When the Anti-dog-eat-dog Rule is used to drive his business out of Colorado, he loses the will to fight, and resigns himself to a quiet life of books and fishing.
  • Ken Danagger owns Danagger Coal in Pennsylvania. He helps Hank Rearden illegally make Rearden metal.
  • Quentin Daniels is an enterprising engineer hired by Dagny Taggart to reconstruct John Galt's motor. Partway through this process, Quentin withdraws his effort for the same reasons John Galt himself had. Dagny's pursuit of Quentin leads her to "Galt's Gulch."
  • Sebastian d'Anconia was the Sixteenth (or Seventeenth) Century founder of the d'Anconia dynasty. Escaped from Spain because of expressing his opinions too freely and coming in conflict with the Inquisition, leaving behind a palace and his beloved. Started a small mine in South America, which became the beginning of a mining empire and a new fortune (and a new palace). Eventually sent for his beloved who had waited for him many years. He is the role model which Francisco d'Anconia looks to, as Dagny Taggart looks to Nathaniel Taggart. Francisco remarks that their respective ancestors would have liked each other.
  • Balph Eubank is called "the literary leader of the age", despite the fact that he has never sold more than three thousand copies of his books. He complains that it is disgraceful that artists are treated as peddlers, and that there should be a law limiting the sales of books to ten thousand copies.
  • Lawrence Hammond runs Hammond Cars in Colorado, and joins the strike.
  • Richard Halley is Dagny Taggart's favorite composer, who mysteriously disappeared after the evening of his greatest triumph. Halley spent years as a struggling and unappreciated composer. At age 24 his opera Phaethon was performed for the first time, to an audience who booed and heckled it. After nineteen years, Phaethon was performed again, but this time it was received to the greatest ovation the opera house had ever heard. The following day, Halley retired, sold the rights to his music, and disappeared.
  • Mrs. William Hastings is the widow of the chief engineer at the Twentieth Century Motor Company. Her husband quit shortly after Galt did and joined the strike some years later. Her lead allows Dagny to find Hugh Akston.
  • Dr. Thomas Hendricks is a famous brain surgeon who developed a new method of preventing strokes. He joined Galt's strike when the American medical system was put under government control.
  • Lee Hunsacker is in charge of a company called Amalgamated Service when takes over the Twentieth Century Motor Company. He files a lawsuit that eventually leads to Midas Mulligan and Judge Narragansett joining the strike.
  • Gwen Ives is Hank Rearden's secretary.
  • Owen Kellogg is Assistant to the Manager of the Taggart Terminal in New York. He catches Dagny Taggart's eye as one of the few competent men on staff. After seeing the sorry state of the Ohio Division she decides to make him its new Superintendent. However, as soon as she returns to New York, Kellogg informs her that he is quitting his job. Owen Kellog eventually reaches, and settles in, Galt's Gulch.
  • Fred Kinnan is a labor leader and member of the looter cabal. Unlike the others, however, Kinnan is straightforward and honest about his purpose. Kinnan is the only one to openly state the true motivations of himself and his fellow conspirators. At the end of Galt's 3 hour speech, he expresses admiration for the man, as he says what he means. Despite this, Kinnan admits that he is one of the people Galt is out to destroy.
  • Paul Larkin is an unsuccessful, middle-aged businessman, a friend of the Rearden family. He meets with the other Looters to work out a plan to bring Rearden down. James Taggart knows he is friends with Hank Rearden and challenges his loyalty, and Larkin assures Taggart that he will go along with them.
  • Eugene Lawson heads the Community Bank of Madison, then gets a job with the government when it goes bankrupt.
  • Mort Liddy is a hack composer who writes trite scores for movies and modern symphonies that no one listens to. He believes melody is a primitive vulgarity. He is one of Lillian Rearden's friends and a member of the cultural elite.
  • Clifton Locey is a friend of Jim Taggart who takes the position of vice-president of operation when Dagny Taggart quits.
  • Pat Logan is the engineer on the first run of the John Galt Line. He later strikes.
  • Kay Ludlow is a beautiful actress and the wife of Ragnar Danneskjöld.
  • Dick McNamara is a contractor who finished the San Sebastian Line and who is hired to lay the new Rearden Metal track for the Rio Norte Line. Before he gets a chance to do so, he mysteriously disappears.
  • Cuffy Meigs is the Director of Unification for the railroad business. He carries a pistol and a lucky rabbit's foot, and he dresses in a military uniform. Meigs seizes control of Project X and accidentally destroys it, demolishing the country's last railroad bridge across the Mississippi River and killing himself, his men, and Dr. Stadler.
  • Dave Mitchum is a state-hired superintendent of the Colorado Division of Taggart Transcontinental. He is partially responsible for the Taggart Tunnel disaster.
  • Chick Morrison holds the position of "Morale Conditioner" in the government.
  • Horace Bussby Mowen is the president of the Amalgamated Switch and Signal Company, Inc. of Connecticut. He is a businessman who sees nothing wrong with the moral code that is destroying society and would never dream of saying he is in business for any reason other than the good of society. Dagny Taggart hires Mowen to produce switches made of Rearden Metal. He is reluctant to build anything with this unproven technology, and has to be ridden and cajoled before he is willing to accept the contract. When pressured by public opinion, he discontinues production of the switches, forcing Dagny to find an alternative source.
  • Midas Mulligan is a wealthy banker who mysteriously disappeared in protest after he was given a court order to lend money to an incompetent applicant. When the order came down, he joined Galt's strike. Mulligan's birth name was Michael, but he had it legally changed after a news article called him "Midas" in a derogatory fashion, which Mulligan took as a compliment.
  • Judge Narragansett is an American jurist who ruled in favor of Midas Mulligan during the case brought against him by the incompetent loan applicant. When Narragansett's ruling was reversed on appeal, he retired and joined the strike. At the end of the novel, he is seen editing the United States Constitution to prohibit Congress from passing laws that restrain freedom of trade.
  • Ben Nealy is a railroad contractor whom Dagny Taggart hires to replace the track on the Rio Norte Line with Rearden Metal. Nealy is incompetent, but Dagny can find no one better in all the country. Nealy believes that anything can get done with enough muscle power. He sees no role for intelligence in human achievement. He relies on Dagny and Ellis Wyatt to run things, and resents them for doing it, because it appears to him like they are just bossing people around.
  • Betty Pope is a wealthy socialite who is having a meaningless sexual affair with James Taggart. She is deliberately crude in a way that casts ridicule on her high social position.
  • Dr. Simon Pritchett is the prestigious head of the Department of Philosophy at Patrick Henry University and considered the leading philosopher of the age. He believes that man is nothing but a collection of chemicals, reason is a superstition, it is futile to seek meaning in life, and the duty of a philosopher is to show that nothing can be understood.
  • Rearden's mother, whose name is not mentioned, lives with her son Hank Rearden at his home in Philadelphia. She is involved in charity work, and berates Rearden whenever she can. She dotes on her weak son Philip Rearden.
  • Philip Rearden is the younger brother of Hank Rearden. He lives in his brother's home in Philadelphia and is completely dependent on him. He is resentful of his brother's charity.
  • Dwight Sanders owns Sanders Aircraft and joins the strike.
  • Bertram Scudder is an editorial writer for the magazine The Future. He typically bashes business and businessmen, but he never says anything specific in his articles, relying on innuendo, sneers, and denunciation. He wrote a hatchet job on Hank Rearden called The Octopus. He is also vocal in support of the Equalization of Opportunity Bill.
  • Claude Slagenhop is president of political organization Friends of Global Progress and one of Lillian Rearden's friends. He believes that ideas are just air, that this is no time for talk, but for action. Global Progress is a sponsor of the Equalization of Opportunity Bill.
  • Gerald and Ivy Starnes are the two surviving children of Jed Starnes; together with their since-deceased brother Eric, they instituted a communistic payment-and-benefits program at Twentieth Century Motors which drove the company into bankruptcy. Gerald, a dying alcoholic, and Ivy, a pseudo-Buddhist ascetic, continue to insist that the plan was perfect and that the failure of their father's company was entirely due to the workers.
  • Andrew Stockton runs the Stockton Foundry in Stockton, Colorado. When he joins the strike, he opens a foundry in Galt's Gulch.
  • Nathaniel Taggart was the founder of Taggart Transcontinental. He built his railroad without any government handouts, and ran the business for no other reason than to turn a profit. He began as a penniless adventurer and ended up as one of the wealthiest men in the country. He never earned money by force or fraud, and never apologized for becoming wealthy and successful. He was one of the most hated men of his time. Dagny is often inspired by looking at a statue of Nat Taggart at the railroad headquarters.
  • Mr. Thompson is the "Head of the State" for the United States. He is not particularly intelligent and has a very undistinguished look. He knows politics, however, and is a master of public relations and back-room deals. Rand's notes indicate that she modeled him on President Harry S. Truman.
  • Lester Tuck is the press agent for Kip Chalmers.
  • Clem Weatherby is a government representative on the board of directors of Taggart Transcontinental.
  • The Wet Nurse (Tony) is a young bureaucrat sent by the government to watch over Rearden’s mills. Though he starts out as a cynical follower of the looters’ code, his experience at the mills transforms him, and he comes to respect and admire the producers. He is shot attempting to inform Hank Rearden about a government plot, but does succeed in warning Rearden just before he dies.
  • Edwin "Eddie" Willers is the Special Assistant to the Vice-President in Charge of Operations at Taggart Transcontinental. He grew up with Dagny Taggart. His father and grandfather worked for the Taggarts, and he followed in their footsteps. He is completely loyal to Dagny and to Taggart Transcontinental. He is also secretly in love with Dagny. Willers is generally assumed to represent the common man: someone who does not possess the Promethean creative ability of The Strikers, but matches them in moral courage and is capable of appreciating and making use of their creations. He sticks it out with the railway to the bitter end, even when the old world is obviously collapsing and Dagny has shifted her attention and loyalty to saving the captive Galt. In the end, he stays with the broken-down Comet in the middle of the desert, like a captain going down with his ship. It is unclear whether or not the strikers or anyone else will return to save him.
  • Ellis Wyatt is the head of Wyatt Oil. He has almost single-handedly revived the economy of Colorado by discovering a new process for reviving what were thought to be exhausted oil wells. When first introduced, he is aggressive towards Dagny, whom he does not yet know and whom he blames for what are in fact her brother's policies which directly threaten his business. When the government passes laws and decrees which make it impossible for him to continue, he sets all his oil wells on fire, leaving a jeering note: "I am leaving it as I found it. Take over. It's yours." One particular burning well that resists all efforts to extinguish it becomes known as "Wyatt's Torch". Later Dagny meets him in Galt's Gulch.

Planned characters not in final version

In the introduction to the 35th anniversary edition, (1991), Leonard Peikoff introduced excerpts from Rand's journals concerning the book, which she originally intended to call "The Strike". Among many other things, the journals reveal some characters which were originally planned to appear in the book and were deleted from the final version.

Peikoff says that "Father Amadeus was Taggart's priest, to whom he confessed his sins. The priest was supposed to be a positive character honestly devoted to the good but practicing consistently the morality of mercy. Miss Rand dropped him, she told me, when she found that it was impossible to make such a character convincing." The quotation from Rand's journals included a passage describing what John Galt represented to each main characters, including one about Father Amadeus: "For Father Amadeus [Galt represents] the source of the conflict. The uneasy realization that Galt is the end of his endeavors, the man of virtue, the perfect man - and that his means do not fit this end (and that he is destroying this, his ideal, for the sake of those who are evil)."

Peikoff also mentions that as originally conceived the book was going to have a character named Stacy Rearden, a sister of Hank Rearden. Not much is told of what her role was supposed to be and why she was eventually dropped. Apparently, she was going to be another parasite like Rearden's brother, mother and wife; presumably, Rand came to the conclusion that three such characters around Rearden sufficiently fulfilled her literary and philosophical purposes.


  1. ^ Characters are listed as "major" if they meet one of the following criteria:
    • they are listed as "major" characters in a widely available study guide, such as CliffsNotes, SparkNotes, or Gale's Novels for Students;
    • they are listed as "primary heroic" or "arch-villain" characters in Gladstein's The New Ayn Rand Companion;
    • they are the focus of an essay in a scholarly book about the novel, such as Essays on Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged or Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged.
  2. ^ Reedstrom, Karen. 1992 Interview with Full Context. Barbara Branden interview in Full Context, October 1992. Republished on Retrieved 1 June 2007.
  3. ^ David Harriman, Journals of Ayn Rand, pp. 311-344, esp. 330-331.
  4. ^ Secondary characters are listed if they appear in character lists from any of the works used to establish the list of major characters above, but do not meet the criteria for "major." Minor characters who are not listed in secondary works are not listed here.
  • Gladstein, Mimi Reisel (1999). The New Ayn Rand Companion. Westport, Connecticut: Greenwood Press. ISBN 0-313-30321-5. OCLC 40359365.  
  • Mayhew, Robert, ed (2009). Essays on Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged. Lanham, Maryland: Lexington Books. ISBN 978-0-7391-2779-7.  
  • Younkins, Edward W., ed (2007). Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged: A Philosophical and Literary Companion. Burlington, Vermont: Ashgate Publishing. ISBN 0-7546-5533-4.  


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