Interpretive Reading Speech 1:
Read a Story
Luke Setzer will be giving Speech Number 1 from the Interpretive Reading Manual.
This speech includes competency in interpretation and drama with a
personal emphasis on conveying emotions in an isolated setting.
Luke Setzer is a CTM who has
been a member of KSC Toastmasters Club 3695 since April 1999.
He is a Mechanical Engineer in the Space Station Utilization Office and
is responsible for assembling and testing experiments that fly on the
International Space Station.
presentation "Dagny Got a Gun” runs from 8 to 10 minutes, with the green
light at 8 minutes, the yellow light at 9 minutes and the red light at 10
welcome Toastmaster Luke Setzer to present “Dagny Got a Gun”.
Suppose you lived in a nation whose government had declined over a period of
years from a free republic to an oppressive dictatorship.
Your romantic partner had been kidnapped by that government and held in a
guarded torture cell. What would you do? Would
you turn the other cheek? Would you
adopt a pacifist attitude, arguing that all violence is inherently evil?
Or would you embrace the view that the government had dishonored its
proper function and was now acting as violator rather than protector of
individual rights? Most
importantly, how would you behave toward the soldiers who mindlessly carried out
the orders of such a government?
Dagny Taggart, the heroine of Ayn Rand’s epic novel ATLAS SHRUGGED, found
herself in just such a situation. The
following passage illustrates the attitude she chose to adopt.
Dagny walked straight toward the guard who stood at the door of "Project
F." Her steps sounded purposeful, even and open, ringing in the silence of
the path among the trees. She raised her head to a ray of moonlight, to let him
recognize her face. "Let me in," she said.
"No admittance," he
answered in the voice of a robot. "By order of Dr. Ferris."
"I am here by order of Mr.
"Huh? … I … I don't know
"I mean, Dr. Ferris hasn't told
me … ma'am."
"I am telling you."
"But I'm not supposed to take
any orders from anyone excepting Dr. Ferris."
"Do you wish to disobey Mr.
“Oh, no, ma'am! But … but if Dr.
Ferris said to let nobody in, that means nobody—" He added uncertainly
and pleadingly, "—doesn't it?"
"Do you know that I am Dagny
Taggart and that you've seen my pictures in the papers with Mr. Thompson and all
the top leaders of the country?"
"Then decide whether you wish
to disobey their orders."
"Oh, no, ma'am! I don't!"
"Then let me in."
"But I can't disobey Dr.
"But I can't choose, ma'am! Who
am I to choose?"
"You'll have to."
"Look," he said hastily,
pulling a key from his pocket and turning to the door, "I'll ask the chief.
"No," she said.
Some quality in the tone of her
voice made him whirl back to her: she was holding a gun pointed levelly at his
"Listen carefully," she
said. "Either you let me in or I shoot you. You may try to shoot me first,
if you can. You have that choice—and no other. Now decide."
His mouth fell open and the key
dropped from his hand.
"Get out of my way," she
He shook his head frantically,
pressing his back against the door. "Oh Christ, ma'am!" he gulped in
the whine of a desperate plea. "I can’t shoot at you, seeing as you come
from Mr. Thompson! And I can't let you in against the word of Dr. Ferris! What
am I to do? I'm only a little fellow! I'm only obeying orders! It's not up to
"It's your life," she
"If you let me ask the chief, he'll tell me, he'll—"
"I won't let you ask
"But how do I know that you
really have an order from Mr. Thompson?"
"You don't. Maybe I haven't.
Maybe I'm acting on my own—and you'll be punished for obeying me. Maybe I
have—and you'll be thrown in jail for disobeying. Maybe Dr. Ferris and Mr.
Thompson agree about this. Maybe they don't—and you have to defy one or the
other. These are the things you have to decide. There is no one to ask, no one
to call, no one to tell you. You will have to decide them yourself."
"But I can't decide! Why
"Because it's your body that's
barring my way."
"But I can't decide! I'm not
supposed to decide!"
"I'll count to three," she
said. "Then I'll shoot."
"Wait! Wait! I haven't said yes
or no!" he cried, cringing tighter against the door, as if immobility of
mind and body were his best protection.
"One—" she counted; she
could see his eyes staring at her in terror—"Two—" she could see
that the gun held less terror for him than the alternative she
Calmly and impersonally, she, who
would have hesitated to fire at an animal, pulled the trigger and fired straight
at the heart of a man who had wanted to exist without the responsibility of
Her gun was equipped with a
silencer; there was no sound to attract anyone's attention, only the thud of a
body falling at her feet.
She picked up the key from the
ground—then waited for a few brief moments, as had been agreed upon.
Francisco was first to join her,
coming from behind a corner of the building, then Hank Rearden, then Ragnar
Danneskjöld. There had been four guards posted at intervals among the trees,
around the building. They were now disposed of: one was dead, three were left in
the brush, bound and gagged.