Because I picked that amazing quote about love and loving from the discussion between Francisco and Henry Reardon when they both loved the same woman, I decided to pick a discussion about love between Jim Taggart and his wife.
“What do you want from me?”
“Love,” he answered.
She felt herself sagging with hopelessness, in the face of that answer which was at once so simple and so meaningless.
“You don’t love me,” he said accusingly. She did not answer. “You don’t love me or you wouldn’t ask such a question.”
“I did love you once,” she said dully, “but it wasn’t what you wanted. I loved you for your courage, your ambition, your ability. But it wasn’t real, any of it.”
His lower lip swelled a little in a faint, contemptuous thrust. “What a shabby idea of love!” he said.
“Jim, what is it that you want to be loved for?”
“What a cheap shopkeeper’s attitude!”
She did not speak; she looked at him, her eyes stretched by a silent question.
“To be loved for!” he said, his voice grating with mockery and righteousness. “So you think that love is a matter of mathematics, of exchange, of weighing and measuring, like a pound of butter on a grocery counter? I don’t want to be loved for anything. I want to be loved for myself-not for anything I do or have or say or think. For myself-not for my body or mind or words or works or actions.”
“But then . . . what is yourself?”
“If you loved me, you wouldn’t ask it.” His voice had a shrill note of nervousness, as if he were swaying dangerously between caution and some blindly heedless impulse. “You wouldn’t ask. You’d know. You’d feel it. Why do you always try to tag and label everything? Can’t you rise above those petty materialistic definitions? Don’t you ever feel-just feel?”
“Yes. Jim, I do,” she said, her voice low. “But I am trying not to, because. .. because what I feel is fear.”
“Of me?” he asked hopefully.
“No, not exactly. Not fear of what you can do to me, but of what you are.”
He dropped his eyelids with the swiftness of slamming a door-but she caught a flash of his eyes and the flash, incredibly, was terror.
“You’re not capable of love, you cheap little gold-digger!” he cried suddenly, in a tone stripped of all color but the desire “to hurt. “Yes, I said gold-digger. There are many forms of it, other than greed for money, other and worse. You’re a gold-digger of the spirit. You didn’t marry me for my cash-but you married me for my ability or courage or whatever value it was that you set as the price of your love!”
“Do you want … love … to be … causeless?”
“Love is its own cause! Love is above causes and reasons. Love is blind.
But you wouldn’t be capable of it. You have the mean, scheming, calculating little soul of a shopkeeper who trades’, but never gives!
Love is a gift-a great, free, unconditional gift that transcends and forgives everything. What’s the generosity of loving a man for his virtues?
What do you give him? Nothing. It’s no more than cold justice. No more than he’s earned.”
Her eyes were dark with the dangerous intensity of glimpsing her goal.
“You want it to be unearned,” she said, not in the tone of a question, but of a verdict.
“Oh, you don’t understand!”
“Yes, Jim, I do. That’s what you want-that’s what all of you really want-not money, not material benefits, not economic security, not any of the handouts you keep demanding.”
She spoke in a flat monotone, as if reciting her thoughts to herself, intent upon giving the solid identity of words to the torturous shreds of chaos twisting in her mind.
“All of you welfare preachers – it’s not unearned money that you’re after. You want handouts, but of a different kind. I’m a gold-digger of the spirit, you said, because I look for value.
Then you, the welfare preachers … it’s the spirit that you want to loot. I never thought and nobody ever told us how it could be thought of and what it would mean-the unearned in spirit. But that is what you want. You want unearned love. You want unearned admiration. You want unearned greatness. You want to be a man like Hank Rearden without the necessity of being what he is. Without the necessity of being anything.
Without … the necessity … of being.”