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Although Ayn Rand achieved fame as a novelist, her first public success came as a playwright. Though Rand was years away from articulating her own ideal, she had since childhood admired the individual who acts on his own judgments, defying social pressure. Did Karen Andre kill her lover, the financier Bjorn Faulkner, by throwing him from the roof of his New York penthouse? The proper verdict is not dictated by the factual evidence. It rests on which witnesses audience members find credible.
He had a platinum gown made for her. Yes, I said platinum. Fine mesh, fine and soft as silk. She wore it on her naked body. He would make a fire in the fireplace and he would heat the dress and then put it on her. It cooled and you could see her body in silver sheen, and it been more decent if she had been naked.
And she ask to put it on as hot as she can stand, and if it burned her shameless skin, she laughed like the pagan she is, and he kissed the burn, wild like tiger!
We object! This testimony is irrelevant and only tends to prejudice the jury against Miss Andre! Karen Andre fell passionately in love with Bjorn Faulkner on the day she applied for work as his stenographer. For the next ten years she helped him carry out his massive financial frauds on a worldwide scale — and was proud to be his mistress.
How would she react when Faulkner suddenly decided to marry Nancy Lee Whitfield, an eligible socialite with a rich father? The reader and the jury must decide based on clues from the way she and Faulkner lived their lives, clues that reveal what she was capable of doing in the name of her values.
From testimony about how Faulkner and Andre lived their lives, the reader and the jury must judge which version of events is consistent with the type of people they were. Although he lives outside the law, his sense of honor is on display at every turn. The way he regards Bjorn Faulkner, the way he treats Karen Andre, and the efforts he makes to protect them, all bespeak an attitude toward life that matches that of the two lovers. Yet it is Nancy Lee whom the financier Bjorn Faulkner finally decides to marry.
The two parties opposed in the trial are as radically antagonistic as will be members of any audience, where some will sympathize with the wife, others with the mistress. Either decision will bring the protest of the opposite side; the case is bound to arouse arguments and discussions, for its underlying conflict is the basic conflict of two different types of humanity.
It is really the audience who is thus put on trial. This play dramatizes the attitude of the independent person and contrasts it with the attitude of social conformists, showing how these two basic approaches to life lead to important — even deadly — conflicts. As a fiction writer, Rand found it interesting to use a criminal outcast to dramatize the conflicting approaches to life. Bjorn Faulkner and Karen Andre revel in their intimacy.
In one striking scene, the housekeeper describes the platinum mesh gown in which Faulkner dressed his mistress.
Flint, there are two kinds of women in this world. And my kind is never jealous of. Tell me what a man finds sexually attractive and I will tell you his entire philosophy of life. Show me the woman he sleeps with and I will tell you his valuation of himself. It was, however, the least offensive one of those suggested to me at the time. I could not change it later: the play had become too famous. Updates From ARI. Reproduction of content and images in whole or in part is prohibited.
All rights reserved. ARI is a c 3 nonprofit organization. Newsletter Sign Up. Search for:. Night of January 16th Overview Background Synopsis Excerpt Although Ayn Rand achieved fame as a novelist, her first public success came as a playwright. Live up to your highest vision of yourself no matter what the circumstances you might encounter. This play places the audience in the role of juror, with twelve members formally selected to render the verdict in a murder trial.
He always could. We wanted to devote our life to spiritual values. We were planning to leave the city, to be part of some modest community, to be like everyone else. Karen Andre? It is your own souls that will be brought to light when your decision is rendered!
The Night of January 16th
Set in a courtroom during a murder trial, an unusual feature of the play is that members of the audience are chosen to play the jury. The court hears the case of Karen Andre, a former secretary and lover of businessman Bjorn Faulkner, of whose murder she is accused. The play does not directly portray the events leading to Faulkner's death; instead the jury must rely on character testimony to decide whether Andre is guilty. The play's ending depends on the verdict.
NIGHT OF JANUARY 16TH
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer optioned the film rights to the play in and hired Rand to work on the screenplay, but they did not move forward and the option lapsed. Paramount brought in a new team of writers, and Rand played no role in the final production. That night Faulkner meets with a man called Anton Haraba, and is apparently thrown from his penthouse balcony to his death. Faulkner's secretary, Kit Lane Ellen Drew , enters the penthouse moments later, leading police to arrest her for Faulkner's murder. Van Ruyle decides to investigate the crime.