Atlas Blogged #24: Anti-soap

September 29, 2010

Part 24 of blogging my way through my first reading of Atlas Shrugged. You can find the first part here.

Chapter 24: Anti-Life

James Taggart is growing bored of parties; at least parties in which he doesn’t impress people. He celebrates the news that d’Anconia copper is to be nationalised by going home and lashing out at his wife, Cherryl. Cherryl married James because she believed he was one of Rand’s titans of industry, and has only just discovered that Dagny is in fact doing all the work. She runs out of the house following her fight with James, and goes to confess all to Dagny.

Dagny gives her a Randian spiel about charity being the opposite of justice and so on, which Cherryl laps up. Meanwhile, Lillian has turned up at the Taggart household, and after trading accusations of mutual uselessness with James, sleeps with him as a ‘celebration of impotence’.

Not quite sure how that works.

Cherryl returns and discovers the couple en flagrante, or at least realises pretty quickly (I can’t bear to read this rubbish chapter again to discover the exact plot point), and has it out with James. He seemingly wants her to provide him with Rand’s Sanction of the Victim; to mooch off her soul by saying he’s a worthwhile chap, even though he’s not. He uses her failure to subjugate herself in that manner as an excuse for his adultery.

Cherryl kills herself, after running out of the house and lamenting on the dreadful state of the world such that it contains men like James Taggart.

Analysis

Pathetic people do pathetic things; Taggart is a case in point. The Cherryl subplot seems intended to do nothing more than demonstrate that James is a useless self-interested twat, despite his protestations to the contrary. We already knew this, so I can only presume that what we’re seeing here is Rand’s justification for her dumping of an ex-boyfriend, and why she wasn’t a horrible bitch to do so.

Part 25 is here.

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