I’m slowly making my way through this beast of a novel and I feel for Dagny Taggart the most. She’s a woman, over-achiever in a man’s world, running a powerful business full-steam and in spite of all the dead weight hanging on to her in form of her incapable brother and board of directors. But she is missing something, something other women seem to have with no trouble. Something her work has driven out of her life and possibly never to be seen again.
Read more to find out what it was.
“With the sudden break of the tension of hurrying, she stopped, unable to go on. The reports seemed to require an effort beyond her power. It was too late to go home and sleep, too early to go to the airport. She thought: You’re tired-and watched her own mood with severe, contemptuous detachment, knowing that it would pass.
The place looked abandoned and dead.
She glanced at a jagged crack on the wall of her office. She heard no sound. She knew she was alone in the ruins of a building. It seemed as if she were alone in the city. She felt an emotion held back for years: a loneliness much beyond this moment, beyond the silence of the room and the wet, glistening emptiness of the street; the loneliness of a gray wasteland where nothing was worth reaching; the loneliness of her childhood.
She rose and walked to the window. By pressing her face to the pane, she could see the whole of the Taggart Building, its lines converging abruptly to its distant pinnacle in the sky. She looked up at the dark window of the room that had been her office. She felt as if she were in exile, never to return, as if she were separated from the building by much more than a sheet of glass, a curtain of rain and the span of a few months.
She stood, in a room of crumbling plaster, pressed to the windowpane, looking up at the unattainable form of everything she loved. She did not know the nature of her loneliness. The only words that named it were: This is not the world I expected.
She shook her head and turned away from the window.
She went back to her desk. She tried to reach for the reports. But suddenly she was slumped across the desk, her head on her am. Don’t, she thought; but she did not move to rise, it made no difference, there was no one to see her.
This was a longing she had never permitted herself to acknowledge.
She faced it now. She thought: If emotion is one’s response to the things the world has to offer, if she loved the rails, the building, and more: if she loved her love for them-there was still one response, the greatest, that she had missed.
She thought: To find a feeling that would hold, as their sum, as their final expression, the purpose of all the things she loved on earth . . . To find a consciousness like her own, who would be the meaning of her world, as she would be of his . . . No, not Francisco d’Anconia, not Hank Rearden, not any man she had ever met or admired . . . A man who existed only in her knowledge of her capacity for an emotion she had never felt, but would have given her life to experience . . . She twisted herself in a slow, faint movement, her breasts pressed to the desk; she felt the longing in her muscles, in the nerves of her body.
Is that what you want? Is it as simple as that?-she thought, but knew that it was not simple. There was some unbreakable link between her love for her work and the desire of her body; as if one gave her the right to the other, the right and the meaning; as if one were the completion of the other-and the desire would never be satisfied, except by a being of equal greatness.
Her face pressed to her arm, she moved her head, shaking it slowly hi negation. She would never find it. Her own thought of what life could be like, was all she would ever have of the world she had wanted. Only the thought of it-and a few rare moments, like a few lights reflected from it on her way-to know, to hold, to follow to the end . . .”