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Eddie Willers

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I wish this continuing slander of Eddie would stop.

He was paid because his employer found his services valuable. In that sense, he was no different from a conductor, an engineer, a signal man or a dispatcher. Except Eddie was good enough to be Dagny's right hand.

He lacked initiative, yes, perhaps even ambition. When Directive 10-289 is issued, he doesn't quit, even when Dagny does. When the tunnel blows up, he neither quits nor takes over operations to salvage the railroad. That's the reason he gets to be the operating vicepresident's right hand rather than the operating vicepresident himself.

In the end he takes the initiative, by going to San Francisco to keep that terminal open. That's too little too late, and he comits the same error Dagny did: keeping TI alive when all it could do was feed the looters.

Compared to Dagny or Hank or Francisco, Eddie was second class, true. So what? He was a moral, productive man. That's all there is to it.

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There are already a number of threads on very similar topics if you want to search for them. However, why did John Galt have an obligation to save anyone? And why are you assuming Eddie Willers want

Yes, and I think we should also assume that Eddie has basically given up at this stage: as good as dead. He might live out the motions of being alive, or he might even meet up with someone with whom h

I believe that there is an as-yet unresolved tension between "life as survival" being the standard of value, versus some other vision of "life," as played out in conversations such as these.   If su

It should also be remembered that Eddie loved Dagny. When he discovered, by accident, that Reardon was sleeping with her, he experienced a feeling of emptiness. At the same time he discovered just how much he, Eddie, loved Dagny and, that she was not to be his. Thus, the highest personal value of his life he saw as impossible to him, and the second---the railroad---was all that was left. By not being fully honest earlier in his life about his feelings for Dagny and giving a realistic look at their possibilities (or not) of fulfillment, he closed off to himself the possibility of other rewarding relationships. He and Gwenn, Reardon's secratary, might have had a great relationship, and certainly both of them would be welcome in Galt's Gulch. All in all, Eddie was a very virtuous and innocent man, and not in any sense on the side of evil. There are very few men in the world today who have lived such a quietly noble and blameless life.

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I did not said I did not like Eddie. I liked him and like his "integrity" and "consistency". I was struck when he was left to dead in the dessert and struck that he was not invited to the VALLEY because he was the one person I wanted to be saved. I really had a hard time accepting his fate. That made me think the possibilities and the message Rand wanted to state. One possibility I tought it is the one we just discussed. (I quote integrity becasue there were things I did not consider to integral like revealing information to unkown employes like Galt when he worked at the railroad).

I thought he was a parasite in the emotional side and intelelctual side,(the fact that I criticize him does not tell that I did not like him) he just "hung" from the ideas and work of others. He was in love with Dagny and probably he did everything to earn her love or to be by her side, he just had to be disciplined and that is all, he did not loot, but he had a dependency on her love, probably he worked so well because he knew that if they succeded in the railroad that would make her happy.

But I have a question , What do you think was his motivation to keep working there all his life?

if it was her love, do you think it is rational to give your life for another person love? (probably he was doing it for his own convenience because if he won her love that would be his payment).

and a question came in my head.

¿What was the difference between Galt´s love for Dagny and Eddie´s love for Dagny?

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I thought he was a parasite in the emotional side and intelelctual side,(the fact that I criticize him does not tell that I did not like him) he just "hung" from the ideas and work of others. He was in love with Dagny and probably he did everything to earn her love or to be by her side, he just had to be disciplined and that is all, he did not loot, but he had a dependency on her love, probably he worked so well because he knew that if they succeded in the railroad that would make her happy.

He had no dependency on her love. He continued working for her after discovering that she loved Rearden. His love for her was his own, and he knew she did not and would not reciprocate. If what you say is true, he would have given up and left as soon as he found his goal of earning her love was not possible.

Also, if this 'dependency' was true, he would have left to go to the Gulch when Dagny did rather than stay with the railroad.

The fact that he was not as intelligent as Dagny does not mean he was dependent upon her intellectually, either. It simply means he was objective about their respective intellects and knew that the railroad would do better with her at the head of it than him, and knew that he would be unable to create a similar railroad no matter how hard he tried.

But I have a question , What do you think was his motivation to keep working there all his life?

if it was her love, do you think it is rational to give your life for another person love? (probably he was doing it for his own convenience because if he won her love that would be his payment).

I think he kept working there for the same reasons Dagny did- he loved the railroad and everything it symbolized. The main reason Dagny could give it up was because it no longer meant the same thing to her that it used to, whereas it still does for Eddie.

¿What was the difference between Galt´s love for Dagny and Eddie´s love for Dagny?

Eddie looked up to Dagny - Galt did not. In other words, Eddie placed himself lower than her and therefore didn't deserve her. He recognized this when he stated that she would be able to start a railroad anywhere and he would not. This is probably why he was able to accept her affair with Rearden as easily as he did. Galt, on the other hand, knew that he was worthy of and deserved Dagny.

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Eddie looked up to Dagny - Galt did not. In other words, Eddie placed himself lower than her and therefore didn't deserve her. He recognized this when he stated that she would be able to start a railroad anywhere and he would not. This is probably why he was able to accept her affair with Rearden as easily as he did. Galt, on the other hand, knew that he was worthy of and deserved Dagny.

Note especially that a relationship in which the man worships the woman does not work as a romantic one... but it does the other, proper, way around.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I loved Eddie's character, and in a way he was just as much of a star as people who ended up in Galt's Gulch. I mean the novel's first pages start with Eddie and I thought it would end with him too. I am not sure if anyone mentioned this but one reason for Eddie's ending (and possibly Cherryl's) might be from Aristotle's influence on Rand. Aristotle was very critical of theatre and dismissed anything but a tragedy. He demanded that all works have a tragic hero which falls due to a flaw, which might have been their most admired trait (Eddie's loyalty). This fall creates catharsis, which Aristotle felt was ultimately more rewarding to the audience. Perhaps Eddie's fall was not simply a message, but also a device to evoke a proper emotion. If Eddie had been saved Atlas Shrugged would not have been as bitter sweet. I could also be completely wrong, just trying to tie in 10th grade English class.

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It looks like I'm about 2 years late to the main debate, but here's my 2 cents.

Eddie Willers did not represent the "common man". He represented the deontologist. His existence was based on a sense of duty to Taggart Trans. He served the railroad as did his father and grandfather. His goal, at the age of 10, was to do "whatever is right". He had no aspirations of greatness, only to do vague great things. To be a part of some noble act, like "Winning battles or saving people out of fires, or climbing mountains, that sort of thing.", while Dagny looked to the horizon. He represented the characteristics of honesty, competence, and devotion required out of duty, but he lacked the aspiration to make the object of his devotion greater than it was. His goal in life was to serve Taggart, not to contribute to its greatness.

Rand was no fan of Kant, and Eddie's tragedy seems to me to be her tribute to the weakness of deontology. She openly ridiculed/parodied Subjectivists, Utilitarianists and Nihlists (James et. al), she paid dismissice lip service to Relativists, but she used Eddie to illustrate the futility of duty. When the duty perishes, so does the servant of that duty. The tragedy is amplified by reference to the Giant Oak. Eddie saw it as a symbol of strength, but later discovered it was only a hollow shell. When adult Eddie's symbol of strength, TT, pershed, he was tied to its fate.

I think it's also noteworthy that Eddie didn't abandon his belief system to join a group of morally ambiguous, aimless transients who offered him assistance. This seems to sybolize Kant's adherence to his own belief system.

In my mind, just as she (supposedly) based Fountainhead's Roark on Frank Lloyd Wright, and Mr. Thompson on Eisenhower, she based Eddie on Kant; A sincere amoral devotee of duty who would be left to perish in the wasteland of history when the Utopia of Greed assumed its rightful place. It may have been a warning that, if you're going to be disciplined and devoted to the cause, you might as well pursue your personal interests. Otherwise you'll miss out on paradise.

Of course, maybe she just didn't like men who lacked the endurance to prattle on for 50 pages...

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  • 2 months later...

^^ no, I do not think that Eddie had any sense of duty. He was in love with the Rail Road. He loved acheivement. he loved streangth. (the oak tree in the beginning of the book represents his charachter and personality. the shock of finding the tree rotten within - represents his shock at the end of the book at seing the TT symbol of tha great Taggart legand. note, that just as he thinks about that oak, he turns to the block of the Tahggart building, thinking of how solid it is, and how IT represented to him a streangth not to be destroyed - ever. just like his oak tree....

There is no reason why they wouldn't go and get him "after" the end of the

novel. He has friends in Galt, Dagney, Reardon, and Francisco. But his

role in the story was the honest -"average" man and how his life is effected

by the prime movers of society. The average person is effected government

by actions against others.

she should have mentioned that at thge end of the story. It was unforgivable to let him perish withh the world. and Jhon Galt cannot escape with the excuse that he edidn't know. he KNEW Eddie. he spoke to him all the time! and Dagny? she was his childhood freind for heaven's sake!!

Edited by Marty McFly
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  • 4 months later...
^^ no, I do not think that Eddie had any sense of duty. He was in love with the Rail Road. He loved acheivement. he loved streangth. (the oak tree in the beginning of the book represents his charachter and personality. the shock of finding the tree rotten within - represents his shock at the end of the book at seing the TT symbol of tha great Taggart legand. note, that just as he thinks about that oak, he turns to the block of the Tahggart building, thinking of how solid it is, and how IT represented to him a streangth not to be destroyed - ever. just like his oak tree....

she should have mentioned that at thge end of the story. It was unforgivable to let him perish withh the world. and Jhon Galt cannot escape with the excuse that he edidn't know. he KNEW Eddie. he spoke to him all the time! and Dagny? she was his childhood freind for heaven's sake!!

I totally disagree. He loved the railroad, but not the idea of making it great. He loved serving a great thing. He was born to serve.

John Galt had no obligation to show pity on Eddie. That was the moral of the story. Obligated pity had corrupted the world.

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  • 5 weeks later...
Willers did not represent the "common man", he represented the deontologist. His existence was based on a sense of duty to TT. He served the railroad as did his father and grandfather. His goal, at the age of 10, was to do "whatever is right"... He had no aspirations of greatness, only to do vague great things... He represented the characteristics of honesty, competence, and devotion required out of duty, but he lacked the aspiration to make the object of his devotion greater than it was. His goal in life was to serve Taggart, not to contribute to its greatness.

Rand was no fan of Kant, and Eddie's tragedy seems to me to be her tribute to the weakness of deontology. She openly ridiculed/parodied Subjectivists, Utilitarianists and Nihlists (James et. al), she paid dismissice lip service to Relativists, but she used Eddie to illustrate the futility of duty. When the duty perishes, so does the servant of that duty. The tragedy is amplified by reference to the Giant Oak. Eddie saw it as a symbol of strength, but later discovered it was only a hollow shell. When adult Eddie's symbol of strength, TT, pershed, he was tied to its fate.

Yes, this seems a more plausible representation of the point she was making, and a fine eloquation of that point, might I say, Mr. Idaho.

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I think Eddie loved the railroad; he did not feel a duty toward it (not if we use Rand's concept of duty). Eddie was a less capable person than the heroes, but just as moral as they. Rand uses Eddie to illustrate the theme of Atlas Shrugged. He serves to illustrate the importance of the Atlases, not just to the evil parasitic men, but also to the perfectly moral men of lesser ability. This is at least part of the reason that Rand leaves Eddie out of Galt's Gulch -- to symbolize how moral men might perish when the heroes leave.

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I think Eddie loved the railroad; he did not feel a duty toward it (not if we use Rand\\\'s concept of duty). Eddie was a less capable person than the heroes, but just as moral as they. Rand uses Eddie to illustrate the theme of Atlas Shrugged. He serves to illustrate the importance of the Atlases, not just to the evil parasitic men, but also to the perfectly moral men of lesser ability. This is at least part of the reason that Rand leaves Eddie out of Galt\\\'s Gulch -- to symbolize how moral men might perish when the heroes leave.

“Loved the railroad”? More than his life? If his own life was the primary value, why should he have stayed with the train? Why wouldn’t his own survival be the first priority? Wasn’t it the same for the “Prime Movers”? Why shouldn’t it apply to the men of lesser ability in the same way as those of greater ability? Surely, underlings are not held to a different standard than their masters?

Edited by Gary Brenner
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Gary, In the other thread you have contended that Objectivism uses survival as the standard of value. This is untrue. Stick to that thread in the debate forum as long as you are going to assert that. I'd answer an Objectivist's question in this thread; but you need to stick to the other one. I say this as a moderator.

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  • 1 year later...

There are already a number of threads on very similar topics if you want to search for them. However, why did John Galt have an obligation to save anyone? And why are you assuming Eddie Willers wanted to be saved? By his own words, he didn't want to start over. He believed that Dagny did and should, but he did not.

In reading Atlas Shrugged, it's important to understand that it's a work of fiction. The fates of Eddie Willers and Cheryl Taggart aren't meant to be "realistic" or prescriptive of how to treat honest, average people, they are meant to dramatize and illustrate the logical fate of the honest, average man and woman in a world where man's mind has gone on strike. Ayn Rand wasn't indicating that they *deserved* to die or be abandoned or anything like that--it is precisely the fact that they *don't* deserve the horrors they suffer through that makes it so tragic.

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Why didn't John Galt try to convince Eddie Willers to go to the Utopia of Greed? Atlas Shrugged

Perhaps because Eddie, despite his obvious usefulness and value, was still a tangential character and not an intellectual or industrial titan like the other denizens of Galt's Gulch.

Edit: Jennifer's reply was better than mine. Use hers. :lol:

Edited by Ordr
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  • 1 year later...

I pulled this off another website:

The last scene to include Eddie Willers shows him stranded in the desert. At the end of the book, Eddie isn't dead, nor necessarily even abandoned, but he also isn't shown as having been saved. He might be rescued, or he might die in the desert. We just don't know, because Rand doesn't reveal what he does or what happens to him after he is stranded. This suspense is intentional: Eddie is supposed to represent the "common man," people who aren't inventive geniuses and leaders. His fate is left unresolved at the end of the book to reflect Rand's belief that the fate of ordinary people depends in many ways on the actions of people like Galt, Dagny, etc.

Rand described Eddie's situation 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, p. 564)

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  • 1 year later...

I am apparently quite a latecomer to this thread, but I was wondering about this question today and found you guys. I read the first 3 pages of the thread, but have to run soon so I want to post my contribution. Sorry if this has already appeared in the last few pages.

What causes my pause is that when Francisco is speaking to Reardon in chapter 9 about the sorts of people who use his rail, he lists 3. It seems to be of the form 2 good, and 1 evil. Here is what is said about Willers...

"Did you want to see it used by men who could not equal the power of your mind, but who would equal your moral integrity—men such as Eddie Willers—who could never invent your Metal, but who would do their best, work as hard as you did, live by their own effort, and—riding on your rail—give a moment's silent thanks to the man who gave them more than they could give him?"

So, if we assume that Galt's position on Eddie is similar to that of Francisco's, the questions of whether or not Eddie belongs in the valley might be broken down like this. There are two ways with which you should judge people: mental power & moral integrity. Those who have both are in, or belong in, the valley. Those who have neither are left outside to die. There are two middle cases. The case where a man equals the power of a striker's mind but not his moral integrity. Ayn Rand's example of this case is in Robert Stadler. Galt clearly tells us where these men belong.

And now we have dealt with 3 of the 4 possibilities, we are back to Willers. Equal in moral integrity, but lacking in power of the mind. I think the answer to why eddie isn't invited to the valley by Galt (more on why I bolded this later) can be found in Galt's speech to Dagny at Mulligan's house during the dinner.

"I went out to become a flame-spotter. I made it my job to watch for those bright flares in the growing night of savagery, which were the men of ability, the men of the mind - to watch their struggle and their agony - and to pull them out, when I knew they had seen enough."

It stands to reason that Galt feels that Willers was not one of the men of ability, and therefor had no reason to invite him into the valley.

This is not to say that I agree with the outcome. I still think there would have been a way to get Willers into the valley without violating the reasoning above, and it can be found in the fact that Francisco brought some of his best workers and engineers from D'Anconia Copper to the valley with him. Were these men of the mind? If so, why did they not compete against D'Anconia copper in their own business? They must have been brought in because they were superlative workers or managers. I think on these terms, dagny, francisco, or galt could & should have admitted Willers into the valley.

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There was another condition though, for being invited to the valley, and that was to be ready to quit working for the looters. Eddie never approached this, and Galt talked with Eddie a LOT so he'd know this.

I've no doubt he otherwise qualified to be in the valley; there were quite a few others there who were perfectly "ordinary" people--the fishwife, the truck driver, etc.

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  • 3 years later...

There have been quite a few excellent posts on this thread but one word I have been looking for is missing: "Serf". Eddie Willers is a serf to TT. A serf is one who belongs to the land and their lord. Eddie belonged to TT, having sacrificed his sense of self. This was his failing and why he stayed with the train despite having opportunity to leave. He deserved his fate.

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Eddie had at least 5 of the 7 virtues; integrity honesty justice productiveness pride, and he made his own choice to go down swinging.  He chose not to let it go.  Did he deseve to have the world he knew collapse around him despite his best efforts to save it?

 

Such a rich topic - how have I missed this one?  Thanks for leading me to it aleph_1 and softwareNerd.  Too busy to add much right now, but I'll definately be coming back to this one.

 

Merry Christmas!!

Edited by Devil's Advocate
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There have been quite a few excellent posts on this thread but one word I have been looking for is missing: "Serf". Eddie Willers is a serf to TT. A serf is one who belongs to the land and their lord. Eddie belonged to TT, having sacrificed his sense of self. This was his failing and why he stayed with the train despite having opportunity to leave. He deserved his fate.

 

Yep. Exactly right.

 

"Eddie Willers sold his soul to the railroad – and not to the ultimate value of his own life and happiness. He evaded or rejected many higher-value alternatives in many choices over a long period of time. He shared the same fate as the railroad accordingly. All his actions were in the wrong direction because he had the wrong values, despite perhaps having all the right virtues. It's your own responsibility to choose to fight for the ultimate standard of value which is your own life and happiness, and to check your premises and the consequences of your actions by that ultimate standard. It's your own responsibility to be your own John Galt. If you end up dying alone and defeated in the wilderness, failing miserably by that ultimate standard, even when alternative choices abounded around you for a very long time even up to the very end, then you are the very picture of immorality."

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There have been quite a few excellent posts on this thread but one word I have been looking for is missing: "Serf". Eddie Willers is a serf to TT. A serf is one who belongs to the land and their lord. Eddie belonged to TT, having sacrificed his sense of self. This was his failing and why he stayed with the train despite having opportunity to leave. He deserved his fate.

Could you add some examples here. How would you contrast Dagny's tie to TT with Eddie's, using examples?

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Serf, smurf!  Eddie was Dagny's right hand man, and the last time I checked, private enterprise isn't a feudal system.  He was, at the risk of stating it indelicately, an employer's wet dream.

 

Could you add some examples here. How would you contrast Dagny's tie to TT with Eddie's, using examples?

 

Yes, that would be interesting.  If Eddie is a serf, doesn't that make Dagny a feudal lady/lord?

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