Travels with Ayn: Pronouns and Stuff

ayn rand typing

I’m up to page 13 in Atlas Shrugged. The bum long gone, Eddie Willers is now wandering around the streets of New York City thinking about his childhood. And the author’s style is beginning to reveal itself:

“He thought of a summer day when he was ten years old. That day, in a clearing of the woods, the one precious companion of his childhood told him what they would do when they grew up. The words were harsh and glowing, like the sunlight. He listened in admiration and in wonder. When he was asked what he would want to do, he answered at once, ‘Whatever is right,’ and added, ‘You ought to do something great…I mean, the two of us together.’ ‘What?’ she asked. He said, ‘I don’t know. That’s what we ought to find out. Not just what you said. Not just business and earning a living. Things like winning battles, or saving people out of fires, or climbing mountains.’ ‘What for?’ she asked. He said, ‘The minister said last Sunday that we must always reach for the best within us.'”

There are a few more sentences in the paragraph, including more embedded dialogue, but I think you get the idea. Among other things, she likes her pronouns. She likes her pronouns better than she likes their antecedents. And she doesn’t like pressing the “return” key on her typewriter, even though the first rule of writing dialogue is to start a new paragraph each time there’s a new speaker. She prefers long paragraphs with multiple speakers in conversation. She likes them.