Tuesday, November 27, 2012

The Cinder Buggy - part 17 - Chapters XXV, XXVI and XXVII; sham marriages in Atlas Shrugged and The Fountainhead

Click here for Parts 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15 and 16 of my review of The Cinder Buggy.

Chapter XXV is relatively simple and straightforward, but powerful.  Much of the plot and drama of Chapter XXV is a continuation of Aaron's prior efforts to make steel as Garrett described in Chapter VII. I found it refreshing that any fictional plot would be based on attempts by industrialists to perfect and complete an industrial process.  Today, fiction writers simply assume that the evil capitalists have the power to build or make whatever they want.  The only room for drama involves some illegality that the capitalist commits while making or building his products. 

I do not know if Garrett's description of the Bessemer process or its resolution is accurate.  

It is ironic and appropriate that Garrett describes the process for turning pig iron into steel just as we begin more chapters that likely served as raw material for the complex finished product found in Ayn Rand's most famous novels.

Chapters XXVI and XXVII feature a return to the triangle. These chapters focus on the marriage of Thane and Agnes.  The marriage seems like a less developed version of the Randian marriages of Peter and Dominique Keating (Fountainhead) and Hank and Lillian Rearden (Atlas Shrugged).  While I am convinced that the Thane-Agnes marriage influenced Rand in the depiction of her characters' marriages, Garrett's depiction is much less developed. 

Rand created the above sham marriages for the purpose of proving her philosophical points.  I predict that the Agnes-Thane marriage will not address underlying philosophy.  Instead, it will be unique to Cinder Buggy and the John-Agnes-Thane triangle. 

Garrett has created a mystery surrounding this marriage.  Garrett hints at the solution to this mystery with reference to Agnes' black book.  "The black book was the ledger of her spirit's solvency."  (p. 242). 

In the Randian novels, there was no mystery at which the audience would guess - just philosophical points that would be explained and demonstrated.

As with the other areas of Garrett/Rand overlap, Garrett's writing would serve as an allegory that Garrett could not have anticipated.  While Garrett wrote of using pig iron as a raw material, the real story of Cinder Buggy is its own function as raw material for Ayn Rand. In the same way, Cinder Buggy and the other forgotten Garrett novels served as the motor that Dagny and Hank Rearden found among the ruins of the factory in Atlas Shrugged. By studying and comparing Garrett with Rand, we can watch that relic being converted into a working motor.

Update - Click here for Part 18 of my Cinder Buggy review.

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