Tape one begins with a discussion of Atlas Shrugged's plot
devices. Bernstein identifies these as (1) the imminence of collapse
of Western civilization; (2) the mystery of leading producers and
great minds vanishing without a trace; (3) the question, "Who is
John Galt?"; and (4) the strike of the men of the mind. Bernstein
explains each of these in great detail and refers to many example
passages in the novel. For example, with respect to the strike, he
discusses four types of characters in Atlas Shrugged: (1)
strikers; (2) scabs; (3) management (i.e., the looters); and (4)
shareholders (i.e., the American people). He also explains why the
strike must remain a secret until Galt's speech.
Narration is Professor Bernstein's next topic. He explains (1) what
he calls Ayn Rand's "switching narration" technique, (2) why Eddie
Willers is the proper narrator of the first section of the novel and
(3) why it is necessary for Dagny Taggart to be the novel's primary
Tape two starts with a discussion of Ayn Rand's literary techniques.
After explaining the author's use of dialogue, Bernstein moves to a
consideration of Rand's use of symbolism as a subsidiary technique.
Symbols discussed include: (1) the oak tree, (2) the calendar, (3)
the chain bracelet of Rearden Metal, (4) Wyatt's torch, and (5) the
sign of the dollar. Bernstein then explains how Rand's use of
symbolism is analogous to, and builds upon, her theory of concepts.
Other topics include Rand's use of irony, double-meanings, and what
Bernstein has dubbed the "juxtaposition of opposites." The last
topic is carried over and completed on tape three.
Tape three is primarily devoted to a consideration of how Ayn Rand
readapts and recasts Greek myths to tell them from an Objectivist
perspective. These myths include Phaλton, Prometheus, Atlantis,
Atlas, and Odysseus and the Sirens. Toward the end of tape three
Bernstein begins a presentation with respect to the levels of
meaning in Atlas Shrugged's chapter titles.
Tape four completes the discussion of the chapter titles and then
explains the significance of the titles of each ten-chapter part of
Atlas Shrugged. Ayn Rand draws the titles (Noncontradiction,
Either/Or, and A is A) from Aristotle's three laws of logic.