A Brief Critique of Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged

by Ken V. Krawchuk


1. A piercing stare...

Context: (520.46) She answered by the silent affirmation of closing her eyes and inclining her head. She saw his lantern circling through the air as she turned away.

Discussion: It's difficult to see a lantern with one's eyes closed.

Alternative: She answered by the silent affirmation of closing her eyes and inclining her head. Upon opening them, she saw his lantern circling through the air as she turned away.

2. Divining the future...

Context: (709.12) [Wyatt speaking to Dagny] "I'll see you tonight."

(714.3) [Later, Galt speaking to Mulligan by phone] "Tonight? Yes, I think so. We will."

(714.26) [Shortly after, Galt speaking to Dagny] "If you're not too tired by evening", he said, "Mulligan has invited us for dinner."

Discussion: At the time that Wyatt informed Dagny that he would see her that night, plans for the evening had not yet been made. Indeed, Wyatt was not yet aware that Dagny was in the valley until that moment, so he would have had no chance to have heard the plans, nor reason to anticipate them, no reason to speak of the evening.

Alternative: I'm sure I'll see you around.

3. Do as I say...

Context: (1135.11) "Don't worry," said Ferris.

(1135.15) "It seems to me . . . that we have no other choice . . .", said Mouch; it was almost a whisper.

(1135.19) Dr. Ferris turned to Lawson. "Gene," he said tensely, still whispering, "run to the radio-control office. Order all stations to stand by."

Discussion: Dr. Ferris was not whispering, and therefore could not still whisper. Only Mouch could do that.

Alternative: "Gene," he said tensely, whispering in turn.

4. Going the distance...

Context: (681.28) "The wire's okay,", [Kellogg] said. "The current's on. It's this particular instrument that's out of order. There's a chance the next one might be working." He added, "The next one is five miles away." "Let's go," [Dagny] said.

(683.7) It was Kellogg who glanced back, after a while, and she followed his glance: there was no headlight behind them.

Discussion: Dagny chose the least efficient direction in which to walk. Given that it would be a five mile walk to the next track phone, it did not matter in which direction they walked to reach it; it would still be five miles. However, heading for the track phone behind the Comet would have taken just as long to reach, but would have reduced by five to ten miles the total distance they would have to walk in order to ultimately return to the Comet.

Alternative: Rather than saying, "Let's go", Dagny should have said, "Our walk back will be miles shorter if we try for the track phone behind the Comet." She turned back in the direction of the feeble headlight. "Let's go." Omit 683.7-8.

5. The in's and out's...

Context: (991.7) [Wet Nurse speaking] ". . . that's when they shot me . . . in the parking lot . . . from behind . . ."

(989.26) [Rearden] felt the boy's hand clutching his with abnormal strength of agony, while he was noticing the tortured lines on the face, the drained lips, the glazing eyes and the thin, dark trickle from a small, black hole in too wrong, too close a spot on the left side of the boy's chest.

Discussion: A small, black hole is the mark of an entrance wound, not an exit wound, so the Wet Nurse could not have been shot from behind. Most bullets are designed to hit their target without exiting at all, thereby imparting all of their kinetic energy to the target. In most situations, being shot from behind will not create an exit wound in front, especially with a thick target like a torso, and the odds are great that the bullet would be deflected or halted by impact with bone. Further, exit wounds are generally larger and more irregular than entrance wounds and would not leave a small, black hole, but rather some beveling oriented away from the entrance wound or ricochet. A low-power weapon would not have the punch to reach all the way through, and a high-power weapon would do much more damage on exit.

Alternative: ...the thin, dark trickle from a ragged black hole in too wrong, too close a spot...

6. Fair weather friend...

Context: (1156.37) The wheels [of Francisco's airplane] were running faster, as if gaining speed and purpose and lightness, ignoring the impotent obstacles of small jolts from the ruts of the ground.

Discussion: John Galt's rescue occurs on the night of February 27th in New Hampshire. The odds of there being no snow on the ground at that latitude and time of year are virtually zero.

Alternative: ...ignoring the impotent obstacles of small jolts from the inadequately-plowed, potholed backroad

7. A scrap of hope...

Context: (290.42) "Hank, that motor was the most valuable thing inside this factory," [Dagny] said, her voice low. "It was more valuable than the whole factory and everything it ever contained. Yet it was passed up and left in the refuse. It was the only thing nobody found worth the trouble of taking."

(356.36) [Dr. Stadler speaking] "How could they abandon, just abandon, a thing of this kind [...] And besides, from a purely practical aspect, why was that motor left in a junk pile?"

Discussion: Perhaps a plausible reason the motor was left behind was because it was a prototype that never did work?

Alternative: None. Given the importance of the motor to the plot development, any alternative wording would need to be far reaching, and beyond the scope of this pamphlet.

Atlas Flubbed

Part 1: Errors of Grammar
Part 2: Errors of Calculation
> Part 3: Errors of Logic
Part 4: Errors of Philosophy
Appendix: Finding quotes in other editions

Atlas Flubbed in PDF pamphlet format

An Unsanctioned
Pastiche Parody

Where no one is asking,
"Who is John Galt?"

Because now...
They know.