I thought he was a legend. A story of a man who now lived on only in memory. I certainly didn’t expect him to be human in the sense that he was capable of anger, or pain, or joy, or love. Every time a character uttered: “Who is John Galt?”they seemed to be asking something deeper. Perhaps they didn’t even understand what. Every time they posed the question, I got a glimpse of what they were really asking. To ask: “Who is John Galt?”, is to ask where has the intelligence and purpose of humanity gone? It is to ask who would dare to stand? Where is Justice? Pride? Love? Where and when did the definition of alive escape us and will it return? He was a man, yes. But he gave that word and life itself a purpose.
We are not the people we’re friends with, or our social status. We are not our ancestors or how we were raised. We are our beliefs. We are our minds. The thoughts we think and the beliefs we hold dear. And, like us, John Galt was his mind and his convictions. Perhaps more than any human will ever be. He had an incredible mind. And, unlike Robert Stadler, He knew that all his thoughts were his own. He was alive in the purest sense. He didn’t apologize for existing or downplay his sense of self. I think that’s what scared men like James Taggart or Wesley Mouch. They knew they couldn’t control him or some how lessen his existence with guilt. The character represents man in his truest and purest form. How a child should grow up to be. Who they always were before the world told them how to act, how to feel, how to think.
We often become the person that people think we are. Whether that be good or bad, it was the other characters perception of John that gave me a hint to who he actually was. How others saw him added to the story. As though the only way we the readers could fully grasp John Galt, was to see him through the eyes of many.
We first saw him through the eyes of Eddie Willers. To Eddie, he was a silent companion. He gave Eddie a sense of purpose. Just by letting him speak and voice the thoughts he’d never had the courage to say aloud before. That showed me that he was a kind man. He never hushed or ridiculed Eddie’s thoughts as most probably did. “Why should you wait for me?….You know, I never thought you cared whether you saw me or not, me or anybody, you seemed so complete in yourself, and that’s why I liked to talk to you, because I felt that you always understood, but nothing could hurt you – you looked as if nothing had ever hurt you – and you made me feel free.” (600) It showed me that he was patient and that who he was had been able to shine through even when he never uttered a word! In the 12 years he spent in the shadows of Taggart Transcontinental, the side he showed to Eddie represented how he was like a silent guardian. Staying out of sight,but caring nevertheless.
“And you, Dr. Akson?” she (Dagny) asked. He glanced at Galt. “I’m one of his two fathers…The one who didn’t betray him.” (649) Through Hugh Akson’s view, we are able to get a glimpse of John Galt when he was an eager 18-year-old boy. From what we know of John’s college years, John was a self-made man in every sense of the word. He had no fortune or family. Any other man would’ve accepted a handout, or perhaps ridden on the coattails of Dr. Stadler. Not John Galt. He was a man who knew the value of hard work and never feared nor avoided it.
“You should have seen them then, when they were in college, Miss Taggart. You couldn’t have found three boys ‘conditioned’ to such different backgrounds, but – conditioners be damned!- they must have picked one another at first sight, among the thousands on campus.” (721). Ragnar and Francisco’s relationship with John really made him appear more human. It was that of old college buddies. Or perhaps comrades in war. In the beginning of the strike, it was just them after all. John’s friendship with them showed great loyalty on his part. Between his disapproval of Ragnar’s…career choices, and accidentally falling in love with the same woman Francisco was in love with, his integrity, wisdom and altruistic nature with which he handled both situations was astonishing and downright admirable. It is truly inspiring.
“When she opened her eyes, she saw sunlight, green leaves and a man’s face. She thought: I know what this is. This was the world as she had expected to see it at sixteen – and now she had reached it. – and it seemed so simple so unastonishing, that the thing she felt was like a blessing pronounced upon the universe by means of three words: But of course.” (Dagny Taggart, 643). Lastly, it was Dagny Taggart’s view that revealed the most about John Galt. To her, he was in essence “The man at the end of the rails” The man we got to view through the eyes of Dagny was a man of passion and skill. They were perfect for each other. They had fully and completely earned one another. With any other person, it was hard to grasp exactly the depth and range of John’s mind. But who he was around Dagny showed exactly how brilliant he was. His love for Dagny was more than purely physical.Their love represented the purest and most sacred kind of love.They’d fallen in love with each others minds.
The moment I discovered, caught a glimpse of who John Galt really was, I laughed. Laughed at the absurdity of it all. That it was in any way possible for such a man to exist, even if it was but in the mind of one sole individual. He was more than just a protester within his own world and story. He will forever be a “No.” echoing across the ages. The creation from a mind who dared to call out the injustice of this world. And to me, John Galt will forever be literature’s greatest hero. A role model for how men should choose to exist. There were no contradictions with his morals. A is A. Things were either wrong, or they were right. And it was his love of life that truly shown through, no matter what character we saw him through. He was a man, yes, but in the philosophical realm, he represented so much more. To ask: “Who is John Galt?” Is to ask a question that is greater and far more complex then all of us. John Galt was a man who knew his worth. And took pride in his unmatched ability. He knew that worth was not something to be determined by society, but it was a decision we all must make on our own. So maybe in a world not so different from ours, it is possible for a man so great to exist in this world. Then again,
Who is John Galt?