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Eddie Willers

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Just like Cheryl, James Taggart's wife, he did not have the strength to keep living in this world.

That's interesting. I had always identified Cheryl and Eddie as the same type of person. The first time I read AS, and Cheryl mentioned to Jim in on their later scenes that she liked Eddie because he was honest, I imagined the two of them becoming a couple. It tore me apart when Cheryl jumped of a peer just a few scenes later. Does anyone else see Cheryl and Eddie as very alike?

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Yes, Eddie Willers didn’t know who Galt was. That is my point. It was so easy for him to reveal valuable information about his greatest value to a total stranger. Doesn’t anybody find these acts of Eddie disturbing? As you read the novel, weren’t you angry every time he was so willing to give up information? An executive of a railroad giving information about railroad operations, company fears, and who the VP of operations is sleeping with, among other things to a day labourer—is this appropriate?

If Dagny knew what he was doing, early in the novel, wouldn’t she fire Eddie? Certainly she would consider it a betrayal. I’m confident that Ayn Rand was conscious that Eddie was betraying Dagny because this is her literary style: The worshiper of a goddess unwittingly helps her to reach her Valhalla in the act of betrayal; helping the man this goddess considers a destroyer. This is how Rand’s mind works: conflict, conflict, conflict. Yes, of course it turns out to be the best thing that ever happened to Dagny—but for such a great part of the novel, Dagny would not have thought so.

I must say that I’ve read the novel a few times but Eddie wasn’t my focus. So, his psychology I can’t really say much about. Maybe on my next read I’ll focus better on him. But certainly there is something wrong with his role as informant to “the enemy”.

Americo.

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I have seen this identification of the importance of career exploited by some Objectivists. They become incredibly attached to career at the expense of other values (romance, friendship, other interests that could deepen their life) and often end up basing their sense of self-worth solely on their career and often, on the company they work for.

I think some Objectivists become workaholics for the same reasons that some non-Objectivists do: to avoid personal relationships, to concentrate on an area of life where they are good and successful, to win public approval, to get money, etc.

In general, Objectivists tend to be pretty much like non-Objectivists -- only moreso.

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Yes, Eddie Willers didn’t know who Galt was.  That is my point.  It was so easy for him to reveal valuable information about his greatest value to a total stranger.  Doesn’t anybody find these acts of Eddie disturbing?  As you read the novel, weren’t you angry every time he was so willing to give up information?  An executive of a railroad giving information about railroad operations, company fears, and who the VP of operations is sleeping with, among other things to a day labourer—is this appropriate?

It could be and it doesn't particularly bother me. Eddie was an unusally open and honest person who had no need to hide anything from anybody. In addition, he was unmarried, didn't have any friends other than Dagny, and had few people he could confide in when he needed someone to talk to.

In one way, I'm very much like Eddie myself. I trust most people and don't think even the people I don't trust can hurt me very much. I love to talk and share the details of my life. I hate to keep secrets. I like to gossip (i.e., engage in discussions of applied ethics and psychology). Etc. As a result, I may reveal too much at times, but so what?

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I imagined the two of them becoming a couple. It tore me apart when Cheryl jumped of a peer just a few scenes later. Does anyone else see Cheryl and Eddie as very alike?

Oh, yes! My friend, journalist Scott Holleran, sometimes writes under the pseudonym of "Cheryl Willers."

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I must say that I’ve read the novel a few times but Eddie wasn’t my focus.  So, his psychology I can’t really say much about.  Maybe on my next read I’ll focus better on him.  But certainly there is something wrong with his role as informant to “the enemy”.

Yeah, but Dagny isn't really "the enemy" - I mean hardly. Galt afterall is extremely attracted to her and considers her his most important potential recruit, along with Rearden.

Considering that Galt and Dagny end up lovers, do you really think she would have fired Eddie Willers? Keep in mind she and Eddie had known each other since childhood, so for Eddie to talk about Dagny in deeply personal terms to someone whom he regarded as a confidant and someone he could trust is not inappropriate. He had no reason to suspect it would go any further and given the way things were going he needed someone to talk to about the company and woman he worshipped.

True, someone else might not have revealed that information. But Eddie Willers wasn't someone else. He was Eddie Willers with a very specific relationship to Dagny.

Fred Weiss

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  • 5 weeks later...

*** Mod's note: Merged into another topic.  -sN ***

 

Why was Eddie Willers left behind?

To me he seemed like a mover rather than a parasite, if not the smartest mover in the world. Any thoughts?

thanks,
Shae

Edited by softwareNerd
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Many people are missing one very important point. The truck driver was admitted into the Gulch because he is able to be a prime mover; he has the confidence, the determination, but at current time, he was only a truckdriver to serve as a means to an end. Eddie was not able to become a prime mover.

Also, Dagny wouldn't fire Eddie because good work is hard to find.

I have one question. Why did Dangy find Eddie hopeless? Isn't it possible for Eddie to eventually improve upon himself? I think it would be entirely possible for Eddie to change, things don't have to stay the way they are.

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Brian wondered:

Why did Dangy find Eddie hopeless?
She didn't.

Here's what happened:

Eddie Willers: "No transcontinental trains can leave San Francisco. One of the fighting factions out there-I don't know which one-has seized our terminal and imposed a 'departure tax' on trains. Meaning that they're holding trains for ransom. Our terminal manager has quit. Nobody knows what to do there now."

Dagny Taggart: "I can't leave New York"

"I know," he said softly. "That's why it's I who'll go there to straighten things out. At least, to find a man to put in charge."

"No! I don't want you to. It's too dangerous. And what for? It doesn't matter now. There's nothing to save."

"It's still Taggart Transcontinental. I'll stand by it, Dagny. Wherever you go, you'll always be able to build a railroad. I couldn't. I don't even want to make a new start. Not any more. Not after what I've seen. You should. I can't. Let me do what I can."

"Eddie! Don't you want-" She stopped, knowing that it was useless. "All right, Eddie. If you wish."

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I mean hopeless in the fact that she can't change him to want to make a new start. Eddie knows that he wouldn't be able to run his own Railroad company. So I guess question is: isn't it possible that his attitude can change and that he could eventually find the courage and self-motivation to do it? Things don't always have to stay the way they are.

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  • 1 month later...

Regarding labelling Eddie Willers as a "second hander". I find this just incredible. Eddie is no Peter Keating who sees the world through the eyes of "the significant others", he is a man who thinks independently and is focused on reality. I don't have the exact quote (I'll look it up for later), but Hank Reardon says something to the effect, that "look Eddie you have the makings of a great/good businessman in you" -- and Hank means it. So I also disagree with those who see Eddie Willers as a common man, if one by common man means the statistical average. Eddie is, if we look around us today, an exceptional man morally (he is morally perfect!) and he is of above average in ability. He would have made a million bucks a year today in business, or so I think to myself. Eddie, however is no "genius" or man of exeptional ability, so he can never be a "Dagny", "Hank" or "John Galt". Those who imply that Eddie is common because he chose not to excell miss the mark entirely, I think (and please remember that Eddie did not have the oportunity to read AS). Eddie knows his limitations and this is good for him. Eddie knows he is no Jonathan Seagull who can just choose the become exceptional by entering a kantian universe where he can cross the "restrictions" of his own nature. The tragedy of Eddie as I see it lies in the wrong ideas he accepts -- which would have driven Dagny to hell too had she not seen her error - and how this logically must drive him to share the destiny of the world around him.

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  • 2 weeks later...
One thing that has always confused me about Atlas Shrugged is the 'fate' that Eddie meets with at the end. Why was he not invited into the valley? Why did a person who practiced unbreached rationality come to such an end?

Any thougts?

This is an excellent question (and one that Nathaniel Branden himself raised after the Great Split). The stark contrast between the flawless super-heroes of Atlas Shrugged (Dagny, Galt, Francisco, Rearden) and that piously loyal schnook Eddie Willers is an expression of a theme that appears often in Rand’s fiction (but never in her essays): there exists a natural aristocracy in every society. In any given population there will emerge a certain elite whose innate gifts of intellect and leadership will set them apart from the masses. Implicit in that theme is the idea that lesser mortals must make way for their betters. It is not the role of the world’s Eddie Willers to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with the Atlases but cheerfully to do their bidding. That is their “fate,” if you will.

I think this exchange between Andrei and Kira from the first version of We the Living (London: Cassell, 1937) serves to illustrate the point:

“Don’t you know, he asked, “that we can’t sacrifice the millions for the sake of the few?”

“You can! You must. When those few are the best. Deny the best the right to the top -- and you have no best left. What are your masses but mud to be ground underfoot, fuel to be burned for those who deserve it? What is [sic] the people but millions of puny, shrivelled, helpless souls that have no thoughts of their own, no dreams of their own, who eat and sleep and chew helplessly the words of others put into their mildewed brains? And for those you would sacrifice the few who know life, who are life? I loathe your ideals because I know no worse injustice than justice for all. Because men are not born equal and I don’t see why one should want to make them equal. And because I loathe most of them.” (pp. 88-89)

Remember the scene in which Eddie discovers Hank Rearden’s bathrobe in Dagny’s closet? Now ask yourself what kind of personality would forego the selfish pleasure of having his own wife or girlfriend in order to serve a powerful businesswoman day and night -- and remain steadfastly and adoringly loyal even after discovering the object of his affection had a lover of her own? I’ll tell you what kind: one who regards himself as mud under Dagny’s pretty little foot.

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  • 1 year later...
I never did like the fate of Eddie, he was one of my favorite Ayn Rand Characters after Gail, Francisco, and Dagny. I've always felt that if Eddie couldn't make it, I probably couldn't make it either.

My sentiment exactly. I stopped reading Ayn. Dagny herself said she couldn't get things done without Eddie. Someone told me that in the new world, Eddie's are unnecessary, so who wants people like him? I still think that he would be useful enough to help him earn his keep.

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My sentiment exactly. I stopped reading Ayn. Dagny herself said she couldn't get things done without Eddie. Someone told me that in the new world, Eddie's are unnecessary, so who wants people like him? I still think that he would be useful enough to help him earn his keep.

I don't think any Objectivist would regard Eddie as useless in a general sense.

OTOH, I don't think anyone would say Eddie was vital to the Gulch's interests, either.

Edited by hunterrose
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Let me explain my views on Eddie etc.

Part of how I interpret Eddie is that he is the sort of person I wish there were alot more of. He is the sort of person I would expect to have a lot of contact with in my view of an ideal world. In the best of worlds an Objectivist could reastically hope for, Eddie is the sort of person that would make up a signiificant number of the population. He is the sort of person most people are capable of being if only they were truly, fully honest.

Sure, he is not a Galt, or a Fransisco, but he is the sort of person that is still important and quite respectable. He might not invent any amazing machines, or compose any brillant stirring music, but he is nonetheless the sort of person that the world would rely on to perform the more mundane tasks in a world where not everyone is of extraordinary ability.

I have always thought that should not reject someone as useless or unworthy because he are not a god among men, as long as he is a honest man working to the best of his ability using his abiliites rationality and honestly. This is very admirable as far as I am concerned, and as far as Miss Rand beleived. Men such as

Eddie have the admirable traits such as independence, integrity, purpose, rational self interest etc, so why there is plenty of reason why such men deserve a level of respect.

As to his fate, well this has been made pretty obvious by now it would seem, so I dont think I need to repeat it again.

Edited by Prometheus98876
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  • 6 months later...

I just finished Atlas a few days ago, and didn't open this thread until I was done hahah...I didn't want to spoil the ending for myself!

Didn't he die out in the desert?

The only thing I have seen that hinted at him dying is Branden saying he did (someone had a link where to a Branden piece, that was I think in the 1990s?)...but Rand didn't write in the book that he died, and I believe she left his final fate open, and did so on purpose.

I think, once the Prime Movers, came out of Atlantis, Eddie would be one of the first people Dagny would contact. I think he was not ready for Gulch, but would have been at some point. The timing wasn't right. He didn't have the right frame of mind.

I was very disappointed by Cheryl Taggert's suicide as well, but, it really helps to drive home the point of one's survival being the ultimate goal. I guess once she realized what her life had really become, that she wouldn't be able to live the life she had intended, so death was preferable to life. It was so sad, and I was very disapointed. But Rand used it well.

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  • 4 weeks later...

I think Eddie was sort of an extension of what Ayn would have called "Dagny's error" - that is, she kept fighting, struggling, bearing the burden of all the looter's regulations, believing she was strong enough to work in spite of it all. She did not realize that by doing this she was feeding the looters and their parasitic view of reality. She finally stopped.

Eddie never stopped - and was in essence destroyed by the looters because of it. He embodies what happens to rational people who give the looters sanction by continuing to allow them to destroy him --- they do.

The last scene also represents what happens to honest men (but non-movers) in the world when the movers cease to work: just as the train's engine stopped, so did the engine of the world. He utterly valued, loved, and respected what the train symbolically stood for - but he did not know how to make it work himself: in essence, without the producers, he was lost and abandoned in a baron wasteland.

Edited by Tsuru
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  • 2 weeks later...
I think Eddie was sort of an extension of what Ayn would have called "Dagny's error" - that is, she kept fighting, struggling, bearing the burden of all the looter's regulations, believing she was strong enough to work in spite of it all. She did not realize that by doing this she was feeding the looters and their parasitic view of reality. She finally stopped.

Eddie never stopped - and was in essence destroyed by the looters because of it. He embodies what happens to rational people who give the looters sanction by continuing to allow them to destroy him --- they do.

But would Dagny have stopped had it not been for her month in the valley and her love and admiration for John Galt? I kind of feel like Eddie didn't have a chance to stop, no one ever forced him to be aware of te error of his ways. Dagny and Hank had to be shown reality, why didn't anyone help Eddie see reality?

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  • 3 weeks later...

I believe Eddie Willers was the example of the "nice" person, that was not a looter but also did not add any value to society(exept that he did not loot, he just followed orders, but being honest does not pay for being mediocre). If he was left alone in an island, he will not survive(what happened in the dessert when he was alone and could not resolve a problem of deciding).

I believe his motivation of being "nice" was because he was dependant on Dagny, he did it all for Dagny, but did not have the courage to THINK beyond that, so he was a parasite as well. Maybe inside he was not that nice person we all saw but probably lived to create an impression on Dagny and win her admiration.

So maybe it was confusing and sad to see him die in the dessert, but those are the most confusing kind of person because you can not tell its evil but this type live at the expense of great minds. So probably in actuallity we have a lot of looters and a lot of Eddie Willers(probably 90% of the world), and not too many Hank Reardens, and much much less John Galts.(and the ideal of the Valley, was to have 100% Galts, Anconias, Dagnys, Galts in the world).

I disagree that he was the same type of Cheryll, because I believe Cheryll was a step ahead in the way that she was working her self up,(she had the courage) and found the truth of the world, but did not have the emotional strenght at the moment to asssume responsibility to put more effort in her life to become a producer.

I had a hard time to get to this conclusion (maybe some do not share my same opinion and I am open to critics) because I had an appeal for him and I was sad that he did not get in the Valley.

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What I mean he is an enmotional parasite he depends on Dagny. The way I see it is that

to be paid or rewarded for being moral and honest (instead of a slacker and a looter) is the same that to pay or reward an assassin(for example a kidnapper) for not killing you.

Why do we have to be paid for being noble if it is supposed to be our natural state. I believe that we get reawarede when we do something that gives an extra value to humanity.

I know that if we all work together in interdependence some people will have more abilities than others and that is the noble part of competition. But the average person could not survive in an island alone. so probably Rands message was that, that maybe we all can develop a little more our abilities to climb above average.

I believe Eddie Willers was the example of the "nice" person, that was not a looter but also did not add any value to society(exept that he did not loot, he just followed orders, but being honest does not pay for being mediocre). If he was left alone in an island, he will not survive(what happened in the dessert when he was alone and could not resolve a problem of deciding).

I believe his motivation of being "nice" was because he was dependant on Dagny, he did it all for Dagny, but did not have the courage to THINK beyond that, so he was a parasite as well. Maybe inside he was not that nice person we all saw but probably lived to create an impression on Dagny and win her admiration.

So maybe it was confusing and sad to see him die in the dessert, but those are the most confusing kind of person because you can not tell its evil but this type live at the expense of great minds. So probably in actuallity we have a lot of looters and a lot of Eddie Willers(probably 90% of the world), and not too many Hank Reardens, and much much less John Galts.(and the ideal of the Valley, was to have 100% Galts, Anconias, Dagnys, Galts in the world).

I disagree that he was the same type of Cheryll, because I believe Cheryll was a step ahead in the way that she was working her self up,(she had the courage) and found the truth of the world, but did not have the emotional strenght at the moment to asssume responsibility to put more effort in her life to become a producer.

I had a hard time to get to this conclusion (maybe some do not share my same opinion and I am open to critics) because I had an appeal for him and I was sad that he did not get in the Valley.

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...value to humanity.
What's all this about being a value to humanity?

I'm pretty sure that any Objectivist who admires Eddie does not do so in the same sense as they admire Galt and the rest. When you say Eddie was a parasite, do you mean you despise him the way one would despise Dr. Stadler?

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