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The killing of characters

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Hello.

I was wondering whether AYN RAND ever explained why she "killed" the characters of Kira from "We The Living" and Eddie from "Atlas Shrugged".

I always thought that the purpose was to show the consequence of a collectivist society to the good people. But recently I heard the suggestion that Rand chose to kill these specific characters because they have somehow sinned.

Does anyone know if Rand addressed that issue?

*** Moderator's note: Those who have not read all of Rands novels, might want to skip this thread lest they come across spoilers and near-spoilers. ***

Edited by softwareNerd
Added spoiler tag

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Hello.

I was wondering whether AYN RAND ever explained why she "killed" the characters of Kira from "We The Living" and Eddie from "Atlas Shrugged".

I always thought that the purpose was to show the consequence of a collectivist society to the good people. But recently I heard the suggestion that Rand chose to kill these specific characters because they have somehow sinned.

Does anyone know if Rand addressed that issue?

Neither of these characters ever "sinned." They are both perfectly moral.

As for Eddie Willers, he was not killed off. Ayn Rand wrote the following in a letter to a fan: "Eddie Willers is not necessarily destined to die; in a free society, he will live happily and productively; in a collectivist society he will be the first to perish. He does not have the ability to create a new society of his own, but he is much too able and too honest ever to adjust himself to collectivism" (Letters of Ayn Rand, letter from May 1960).

In real life, people like Kira may have managed to escape Russia, but such escapes are accidental. Literature essentializes; it does not present historical accidents. So here you're right; Ayn Rand was trying to show the consequences of collectivism to the individual. Or in Ayn Rand's own words: "The theme of We the Living is: the individual against the state, and, more specifically, the evil of statism. I present the theme by showing that the totalitarian state destroys the best people: in this case, a girl and the two men who love her" (Art of Fiction, chapter 3).

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Thank you for the response.

I have to apologize: I haven’t read the books for some time now, and I currently don’t have AS. I thought Eddie Willers died.

Anyway, as for Rand`s answer:

"Eddie Willers is not necessarily destined to die; in a free society, he will live happily and productively; in a collectivist society he will be the first to perish. He does not have the ability to create a new society of his own, but he is much too able and too honest ever to adjust himself to collectivism" (bold mine)- does this not mean that Willers`s failure to become a more creative and productive person is some sort of sin? At least a sin that makes him die instead of Fransisco for example?

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Eddie is one of the minor characters. Along with Chreryl Taggart and the Wet Nurse, they were, as DS said, the first victims of the state. That is what make's Eddie's breakdown so tragic, in an era where businessmen are always portrayed as big evil vampires, we see a compassionate and very likeable person. There are people who would think nothing of the person they are stealing from, and Eddie is there to demostrate that.

Also, you can draw parallels between Eddie Willers and Ayn Rand's own father, who stayed behind in the Soviet Union, an honest man who eventually had his life taken by the state.

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[...] does this not mean that Willers`s failure to become a more creative and productive person is some sort of sin? At least a sin that makes him die instead of Fransisco for example?

What do you mean by "sin"?

Are you implying that a man of average intelligence, which is what Eddie Willers was, can somehow will himself to become a productive genius?

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What do you mean by "sin"?

Are you implying that a man of average intelligence, which is what Eddie Willers was, can somehow will himself to become a productive genius?

No, I wasn`t implying it. I was wondering if Ayn Rand was implying it somehow. The fact that the three good people (unless I`m forgetting someone) who died on AS were people who were not geniuses and/or committed series errors in the past makes me wonder about that...

Eddie is one of the minor characters.

- I find it interesting that he is the first character on the book. maybe that represents something.

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No, I wasn`t implying it. I was wondering if Ayn Rand was implying it somehow. The fact that the three good people (unless I`m forgetting someone) who died on AS were people who were not geniuses and/or committed series errors in the past makes me wonder about that...

Eddie illustrates her point that the average or somewhat-above-average men die under collectivism--they are too moral and honest to become a looter (i.e., Taggart), and yet not intelligent enough to figure out the solution (i.e., Galt). Their level of intelligence is not a moral failure--their honesty and integrity is what makes them fully moral. But that alone is not enough to guarantee survival, which demonstrates the "inverted pyramid" of the book--the average depend on the geniuses for their very survival. In a free society, the geniuses make possible a better life for all of us (think of what Edison gave to the world vs. what I have given, for instance).

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No, I wasn`t implying it. I was wondering if Ayn Rand was implying it somehow. The fact that the three good people (unless I`m forgetting someone) who died on AS were people who were not geniuses and/or committed series errors in the past makes me wonder about that...

- I find it interesting that he is the first character on the book. maybe that represents something.

I don't know what Ayn Rand's artistic intentions were in doing that. However, you might note that the first person named in the novel is the man who best exemplifies the theme of the book: John Galt.

He is the supreme example of the metaphysical theme, which is the proper relationship between consciousness and the rest of reality. He is therefore the prime mover of the events of the story. All the other characters exhibit that relationship (or lack of it, in the case of evaders), in varying degrees of success.

Eddie Willers was honest (faced the facts of reality), but his average intelligence would not enable him to make the enormous integrations that John Galt (that is, Ayn Rand) made.

P. S. 1 -- A.A, who are the three good people who died in Atlas Shrugged?

P. S. 2 -- A.A, are you writing English as a second language? If so, that is very difficult to do. Thank you for taking the time and making the effort to participate. Your questions are thought-provoking.

Edited by BurgessLau

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he was probably refering to the three minor characters that I mentioned, all three of which shared Eddie's predicament and ultimately, his fate:

The Wet Nurse: a good man who was able to transcend the boundaries of his indoctrination and realize the nobility of Hank Rearden. He however, tries to use the system against itself, and ultimately ends up getting shot during the assault on Hank's mills.

Cheryl Taggart: a rational woman who succumbs to hero worship. James Taggart is (at least appears to be) a success, and Cheryl rationalizes that he must have value. She realizes her mistake when she realizes that it was Dagny all along who was running the show, and James was in fact a wicked, evil man (after he admits to sleeping with Lillian Rearden, then beats her for being better than him.) If I remember correctly, she commits suicide, due to the fact that she is left with nothing in a world that is falling apart.

Eddie Willers is the third, but I feel his situation has been sufficiently covered.

Edited by the tortured one

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I don't know what Ayn Rand's artistic intentions were in doing that. However, you might note that the first person named in the novel is the man who best exemplifies the theme of the book: John Galt.

He is the supreme example of the metaphysical theme, which is the proper relationship between consciousness and the rest of reality. He is therefore the prime mover of the events of the story. All the other characters exhibit that relationship (or lack of it, in the case of evaders), in varying degrees of success.

Eddie Willers was honest (faced the facts of reality), but his average intelligence would not enable him to make the enormous integrations that John Galt (that is, Ayn Rand) made.

P. S. 1 -- A.A, who are the three good people who died in Atlas Shrugged?

P. S. 2 -- A.A, are you writing English as a second language? If so, that is very difficult to do. Thank you for taking the time and making the effort to participate. Your questions are thought-provoking.

O.K, your opinion sounds convincing for me and I agree that the fact that John Galt is the first name mentioned in the book is very significant.

P.s. 1- the tortured one already answered that.

p.s. 2- Yes, I am writing English as a second language and I thank you very much for the compliments. I have to say though that I am not sure I am glad that it shows. Anyway, I am writing with a spell checker. I am not sure how impressed you would be if you saw the posts before the spell checker.

--------------------------------------------------------

Well, I edited the post for spelling errors... ah, the irony.

Edited by A.A

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p.s. 2- Yes, I am writing English as a second language and I thank you very much for the compliments. I have to say though that I am not sure I am glad that it shows.

It showed in only one way: misuse of the preposition "on" instead of "in." That is minor, but it appeared often enough to raise my interest. I looked at your location and that too suggested the possibility of English being a second language.

Anyway, I am writing with a spell checker. I am not sure how impressed you would be if you saw the posts before the spell checker.

I have been a professional writer for 35 years -- and I certainly would not want to show anyone my first (or second or third) drafts. We can all be grateful to the innovators who invented spell checkers.

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About Kira's death

, my guess is that it's part of the auto-biographical element in Ayn Rand's novel. I live in a country that has been ruled by a communist dictatorship (Romania- that is; luckily that was mostly before I was born :P ) and there have been hundreds of people killed while they were trying to cross the border into Yougoslavia, where they could have more easily escaped towards the West. It was a fact of life- and I guess everyone who did flee the country has gone trough a lot of fear; there are things that leave a a mark forever. I guess when writing Ayn Rand was thinking that it may have happened to her, as well.

Edited by softwareNerd
Added spoiler tag

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Hello.

I was wondering whether AYN RAND ever explained why she "killed" the characters of Kira from "We The Living" and Eddie from "Atlas Shrugged".

Can we get some

spoiler bars

around those, please? Jeez.

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... my guess is that it's part of the auto-biographical element in Ayn Rand's novel.

As a writer of fiction, the autobiographical nature of it would be less important than her desire to dramatize that Communist regimes offer no hope at all. According to one interview reported in "100 Voices", the original working-title for the novel was "Air tight'.

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Forget about Kira, the bitch was way too annoying, I was happy she died, but when Andrei died, I cried and didn't want to finish the book for a month.

Everytime I read that book it makes me sad.

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I think that Andrei had a lot into him he didn't get out.

The book talks about how the system breaks then man, and he was a good example for it.

He tried to fight for a change, but he chose the wrong change.

He was a good person, he was moral - in a way, and he was interesting. I liked his character,

though my all-time-favorite-rand-character is Ragner =]

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I think that Andrei had a lot into him he didn't get out.

The book talks about how the system breaks then man, and he was a good example for it.

He tried to fight for a change, but he chose the wrong change.

He was a good person, he was moral - in a way, and he was interesting. I liked his character,

though my all-time-favorite-rand-character is Ragner =]

I have to disagree. Leo was an essentially moral person broken by the system. Andrei, and people like him, were the system. I realize that he was presented as sincere in his beliefs about communism, and that he was somewhat productive as a bureaucrat but that's a long way from being moral or justifying all of the free spirits like Leo, that he helped to destroy. If he is a victim, then he's a victim of his own philosophy.

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With regard to Andrei and Leo ask yourself which is the more honest/moral position...

1. Andrei - I used to believe "X". I have been shown and now understand that it is wrong. I can't live like this any longer I must escape... any way I can.

2. Leo - I believe "Y" but that is not the way things are so, if I can't beat them I might as well join them. Ooh, I can drink myself into oblivion as I do it too.

Yes, I'm prejudiced in Andrei's favor. Andrei is a good example of how an honest man, even if he is completely convinced that he is correct, after being proven wrong will not compromise but change his course 360 degrees to comply with facts and reality.

Even as a Commie Andrei was a better man than Leo.

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With regard to Andrei and Leo ask yourself which is the more honest/moral position...

1. Andrei - I used to believe "X". I have been shown and now understand that it is wrong. I can't live like this any longer I must escape... any way I can.

2. Leo - I believe "Y" but that is not the way things are so, if I can't beat them I might as well join them. Ooh, I can drink myself into oblivion as I do it too.

Yes, I'm prejudiced in Andrei's favor. Andrei is a good example of how an honest man, even if he is completely convinced that he is correct, after being proven wrong will not compromise but change his course 360 degrees to comply with facts and reality.

Even as a Commie Andrei was a better man than Leo.

I do not see committing suicide at your realization of your own dishonesty an noble act and I do not see Leo giving up after a lifetime of effort and being repeatedly crushed by forces of destruction(Anderei and the party he is devoted to) as dishonest. It was a rational realization that it is a force that he cannot live with or fight against. I think his view, in fact, was the reality he was confronted with.

I think this may be a personal experience thing, but I've never met a leftest who wasn't a complete hypocrite with regard to their allegedly sincere beliefs. The most intellectual among them will avoid the issue by claiming that the generous behavior they wish to enforce in me, at the point of a gun, would be supererogatory to expect of them on their own accord. I realize that Rand presented him as a sincere proponent of communist ideology, but my experience has been that there is no such thing. Leo, on the other hand, tried to live life on his own terms. He failed, of course, but I thought he gave it a pretty good go considering he had to work with Andrei riding on his shoulders the whole time.

Half of the population of the US are well meaning, sincere public officials and bureaucrats like Andrei sucking on the rest of us. I'm not the least bit impressed by their sincerity, either. I am impressed by the 90% of business owners who go out of business each year, due in part to regulations that those sincere people strap them down with.

What was it that Andrei arrested Leo for? "Crimes against the state," or some such? He was handing out death penalties for trading goods. Fuck him and his sincerity. ;)

Edited by aequalsa

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Gahhh, I just spent 10 min writing a long-ass comment and the website crashed.

So I am going to start it all over again.

So to start off, not even one character in the book is morally perfect. They all have pro and cons, and the beauty about any art, is that each person can relate to something else.

When reading the book, please do not forget:

- When you have no money, education, food, and the country kills your spirit, you are not the same person.

- Each one of the characters were different, and they all came from different classes. The way communism let them change, is not the same, and therefore each one of them had a different experience.

but, because of these reasons, I am going to make a little judgment over each one of them.

Leo, would have been amazing if he lived in another country. Even social country would be much better for him than commi Russia, but even though he fought, it doesn't contradict the fact that he ended up having sex with a fat ugly woman that not only he would never have sex with if he was in a different situation, he would never talk to her, or even look her way, as she is a low life bitch.

He start drinking like an ass, treating the "love of his life" like shit, and actually I don't think he actually ever loved Kira, it was just a comfort thing. He is an ultra asshole.

He might be smart, and in some way driven and honest, but he is still an asshole, a drunk abusive asshole.

Kira - I don't know how so many readers like her. To start of, she is an whore, agree or disagree with the reasons, she did have sex with Anrei only for the money. She enjoy the restaurants, cloths, perfumes, watch, cigarettes and money. and worse of all - she gave it all for a man that didn't even appreciate it. She was Leo's bitch - cooked for him, cleaned for him, looked nice for him, worked for him, did anything she could just for him. She also skipped lots of school[until she got kicked out of course], which was very important for her, just for him.

She didn't get much in return, and only when Leo made money is when he did for once something nice for her [and I am pretty sure he still fucked what's her face the old lady at the same time.]

The only thing that actually make me respect Kira is the fact that she kept and tried to get her ass out of the country, after all she went through]

Andrei - For me he is the least worse.

Yes, he is part of the system

yes, he did not fight the worse of all,

but - he was the most honest out of the three.

He wanted a change and he fought for it, everything he got is not for his social skills, is for his real abilities.

Even later when he disagreed with the system - he didn't go for meetings if Kira was the other option or if he had something better to do.

Communism was his chance, in that system to get education and food and money and being able to live like a person.

Even after he got Leo in jail, he let him out.

and to my opinion he didn't escape anything by committing suicide. He got to a point where the only thing in this fucked up place that made him happy was Kira, and when he found out that even that was fake, the thing he thought was the most honest out of all, he had no reason to fight, or to strive on. So he just did the right thing for him, and said goodbye to the shitty place he lived in.

I know probably most of you would not agree with me, but this is how I see the book, and I don't really care if you disagree =]

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I have always considered Kira's admiration for Leo a bit misguided. When I read the book, I thought that possibly Kira projected onto Leo characteristics which were not there. He was handsome enough to be a model but ultimately weak in character and turned out to be unworthy of what Kira did for him. He allowed his environment to destroy him and although I am somewhat sympathetic (considering his circumstances) there is not enough there to evoke respect in me.

Kira, in my opinion, had to face much harder challenges in life, much more difficult decisions than Leo did and yet her spirit, her values, her morals and her ideas remained intact. She was a survivor! She remained a fighter for her values, for the kind of life she deserved, for the person she loved, until her last breath. For that reason she has always been a source of admiration and inspiration for me. Kira is my favorite Rand's female character.

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