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AtlasShrugged132

Atlas Shrugged, Part 1, Chapter 3, section 2:

* Plot summary
Recounts Dagny's childhood decision to run Taggart Transcontinental and her rise in the company.  Recounts the history of the San Sebastian Line: Millionaire playboy Francisco D'Anconia invested money in developing the San Sebastian Mines, and James Taggart and the Board of Directors assumed they could trust D'Anconia to deliver a winner.  Dagny opposed this project and almost quit when it was approved.  James Taggart confronts Dagny and demands to know what she has done to the San Sebastian Line.  She explains that she has moved anything of value out of Mexico so the "looters" would not get it when they nationalized the line.  James Taggart is scandalized by this but cannot muster the courage to countermand her actions.  After leaving the office, Dagny has a conversation with the owner of a newstand about his cigarette collection.  He says there are no new brands anymore, and only a few brands still being made.  He talks of the cigarette as a symbol of man controlling nature, holding fire in his hands.
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* Setting
The offices of Taggart Transcontinental and the Taggart Terminal.
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* Characters
BoardOfDirectorsOfTaggartTranscontiental

DagnysFather

DagnyTaggart

EddieWillers

EllisWyatt: Mentioned.

FranciscoDAnconia: Mentioned.

HankRearden

JamesTaggart

MrsNathanielTaggart: Mentioned.

NathanielTaggart: Mentioned.

NewsstandOwner

OrrenBoyle: Mentioned.
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* Symbolism
The NewsstandOwner explicitly explains the symbolism of cigarettes: "I like to think of fire held in man's hand.  Fire, a dangerous force, tamed at his fingertips.  I often wonder about the hours when a man sits alone, watching the smoke of a cigarette, thinking.  I wonder what great things have come from such hours.  When a man thinks, there is a spot of fire alive in his mind - and it is proper that he should have the burning point of a cigarette as his one expression."  This is a character explaining what cigarettes symbolize to him - it is not a use of literary symbolism.  The literary symbolism of this passage is established when the newsstand owner likens the fire of a cigarette to the fire of the mind.  In Greek mythology, it was this gift of fire that raised men up.  In AtlasShrugged, it is the achievements of the mind that raise men up.  So the disappearance of most of the old brands of cigarettes, which the NewsstandOwner bemoans, is symbolic of the disappearance of the men of the mind.