“The road is cleared…”

Atlas Shrugged – Day 104 – pp. 1160-1169

This is it!! (Apparently I miscounted.) The final installment!

“The locomotive of the eastbound Comet broke down in the middle of a desert in Arizona. … Eddie Willers called for the conductor…”

He’s alive! Survived the trip to SF. That’s got to show some resourcefulness.

“He could not tell what the past few days had cost him or what he had done to save the San Francisco terminal… He knew only that he had obtained immunity for the terminal from the leaders of three different warring factions…”

Victory!?

But he’s begun to realize all his efforts are in vain. The harder he works, the less it amounts to. Sort of the way things go in looter-world.

Still, stuck in the middle of the desert, his only goal is to get the Comet going again. He’s become an extension of the old Dagny. Wonder what that means? What is it that drives him to complete the mission of holding everything together. Why can Dagny, after nearly 1200 pages finally see the light and he still can’t?  (I’ll bet she’s the only one John Galt had to bang to convert.)

“Two phrases stood as the answer in his mind, driving him with the vagueness of a prayer and the scalding force of an absolute. One was: From Ocean to Ocean, forever — the other was: Don’t let it go!…”

What’d I miss?

Their call to HQ for help has gone unanswered. There’s no one there. Eddie takes the conductor and fireman to the engine to try and fix it themselves.

Up front, working in futility, the engineer protests.

“What’s the use, Mr. Willers?”

Eddies intensity to fulfill his duty to the railroad ratchets up a notch.

“We can’t let it go!” Eddie answered fiercely; he knew dimly that what he meant was more than the Comet … an more than the railroad.

Eddie is, in a sense no better than the looters in his unwillingness to accept the reality. Struggling to breathe life back into Taggart Transcontinental — a shadow of its former self, dying in the middle of the desert. He’s unwilling to accept what the world has become. Fighting against reality is a losing battle every time.

They look out of the engine and see a light approaching.

“An odd little light was swinging jerkily far in the distance…”

Raiders?

Then he caught a feeble, muffled beat that sounded like the hoofs of horses. … it was Eddies face that froze into a look of terror at the sight of a ghost more frightening than they could have expected, it was a train of covered wagons.

Hmmm. Reverting back to the beginning, the mighty Comet has just been replaced by a wagon train. The leader of the train offers them a lift.

“Are you crazy?” asked Eddie Willers.

“No, I mean it, brother. We got plenty of room. We’ll give you folks a lift — for a price — if you want to get out of here.”

Capitalist. There’s the next Nat Taggart.

“This is the Taggart Comet,” said Eddie Willers, choking.

“The Comet, eh? Looks more like a dead caterpillar to me.”

Then, as if he could take any more bad news, they tell Eddie he’s not getting to NY any-which-way. The Taggart bridge is gone.

Eddie Willers did not know what happened next, he had fallen against the side of the engineer’s chair, staring at the open door of the motor unit; he did not know how long he stayed there, but when, at last, he turned his head, he saw that he was alone.

Everyone else is piling into the wagon train. Engineer and conductor included.

“You’re not going, are you?” he cried to his passengers. “You’re not abandoning the Comet?”

But they are. Reality has finally settled in on everybody. Everybody except poor Eddie Willers.

He felt like the captain of an ocean liner in distress who preferred to go down with his ship rather than be saved by the canoe of savages taunting him…

Then suddenly, he felt the blinding surge of a desperate, righteous anger. He leaped to his feet seizing the throttle. He had to start the train … he was pulling levers at random, he was jerking the throttle back and forth, he was stepping on the dead man’s pedal…

Don’t let it go! his mind was crying…

Dagny! — he heard himself crying soundlessly — Dagny, in the name of the best within us! … Dagny! — he was crying to a twelve-year-old girl in a sunlit clearing of the woods… business and earning a living and that in man which makes it possible — that is the best within us, that was the thing to defend… in the name of saving it, Dagny, I must now start this train…”

Great mad scene!

He climbed down from the engine.

“…he knew that the advance was not to be defeated.

He stepped to the front of the engine and looked up at the letters TT. Then he collapsed across the rail and lay sobbing at the foot of the engine, with the beam of a motionless headlight above him going off into limitless night.

A pointed end for Eddie, I guess. He’s a sacrificial lamb. One who couldn’t see the reality of the future. It shows the even handed justice reality metes out for those who won’t face it, even if they’re on the right side of the equation.

(I wonder if this represents his second class stature relative to Dagny. I’m sure if she were on the train, it’d still be moving.)

Scene, we’re back in the valley. Rand describes a panning-shot from house to house

Midas Mulligan sat at his desk, with a map and a column of figures before him…

Kay Ludlow sat before a mirror, thoughtfully studying the shades of film make-up, spread open in a battered case. Ragnar Danneskjold lay stretched on a couch, reading a volume of the works of Aristotle…

Judge Narragansett is editing a copy of an ancient document adding a new clause “Congress shall make no law abridging the freedom production and trade…”

Hank Rearden and Ellis Wyatt are hanging out at Francisco’s as he designs his new copper smelter.

And on “the highest accessible ledge of a mountain” stood John Galt and Dagny. Off in the distance they can still see the flickering flame of Wyatt’s Torch.

It seemed to be calling and waiting for the words John Galt was now to pronounce.

“The road is cleared,” said Galt. “We are going back to the world.”

He raised his hand and over the desolate earth he traced in space the sign of the dollar.

The End

This entry was posted in atlasShrugged and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. Both comments and trackbacks are currently closed.