There are certain books which supposedly need to be read early on in life in order to appreciate them. Mostly this is due to the mind of the reader being immature enough to be warped by the unhelpful, improper or evil message of the book or thought process.
"Give me a child for his first seven years and I will give you the man" ~ Jesuit Maxim.
Of course, when the Jesuits were allowed to brainwash and indoctrinate the boy early on he'd retain their warped teachings all his life.
So I never got around to Ayn Rand's two works until my mid-twenties. And having trudged through the long hard slog of Atlas Shrugged
the most pertinent fact about the book, to me, was which character I most readily identified with.
I know I am not a Ragnar Danneskjöld super engineer able of crafting a Super Stealth Ship, or have the chess mastery of Francisco d'Anconia to undercut and play a 20 year deep Global Game of Intrigue, or possess the Hank Reardon intellect to invent an entirely new alloy, or the comic book super powers of John Galt himself so I identified with Dagny Taggart's loyal assistant, Eddie Willers.
Eddie represents the common man in Rand's book and philosophical worldview. And it clearly shows that Rand views the mass of humanity as dogs, hard-working enduring and loyal creatures but not possessing many other positive traits and with the ability to be turned to good or evil by how they are treated. Dagny Taggart was obviously Ayn Rand herself.
And how does Dagny (Rand) treat her loyal assistant, the common man, as the "evil" society crumbles? She leaves him to fucking die on the train tracks! Because that is what Objectivism holds the mass of humanity is nothing and the few brilliant beautiful people are everything. And even amongst the select few there exist a pecking order. Amongst the elect there are some even more Objectively Superior and those people need to be allowed special privileges.
A majority of the reason Rand wrote Atlas Shrugged was because of her desire to justify her sexual mores. I don't care, fuck whomever you want to fuck, but for Rand to rationally indulge in her sexual proclivities she had to wrap it in the aura of her Philosophical Magisterium
as part and parcel of the Whole Objectivist Truth. In the novel, Hank Reardon and Dagny become lovers because they seek refuge from the "evil" society in each other's arms; having not fled to Galt's Gulch. Well, when Dagny's plane crashes, Reardon flys around trying to spot the wreckage. But after The Strike and upon being reunited with Dagny the two happily parts ways as if nothing ever happened between them because Dagnay has moved on to ride Galt's mega-phallus???
In her writings Rand often berates altruism and several philosophers (most noticeably Immanuel Kant) as evil and teaching an anti-human thought system. Because it undercuts and destroys the Individual, who is everything. Well, it is Rand's Objectivism which is truly anti-human. Objectivism goes: Reason is the highest, the individual is everything, reality exists A is A, yet Rand doesn't respect and in fact hates most common individuals. No Individual, even Randian Super Heroes, exists or succeeds ex nihlo
I believe myself to be fairly intelligent and not given to evil but not having the spark of Randian superiority so to Rand I'm common. And that's when Rand's Objectivism shows it's true anti-human streak. The commons are nothing but potential parasites and therefore unreasonable, not grounded in reality, irredeemable and not worth saving. The Common Man is nobody special to Rand.
I'm Nobody. Nobody Special. Not like you.
Everybody is Special. Everybody. Everybody is a Hero, a Lover, a Fool, a Villain. Everybody. ~ Evey and V, V for Vendetta, Alan Moore and David Lloyd.