Night of January 16th (1935)
Night of January 16th is not a novel, but a play. It did not yet show all of Rands later ideas but it did present her to audiences as a staunch critic of the status quo, and planted a seed for her further literary development.
Although her main themes were not yet articulated, Rand has always admired those who are bold enough to go against social pressure and follow their own goals without hesitation. Thus, the characters of the play are portrayed in that light, portraying perhaps not the author’s moral views, but definitely the struggle of independence versus conformity.
The whole play is in fact a murder trial, in which the audience is expected to come to a verdict, acting as the jury. The point is not to judge according to any evidence, but according to which side the audience believes is right.
At the trial, many details that allude to each characters personality and attitude towards life come to light. In its essence, as Rand would put it, it is a clashing of two opposite extremes, that every member of the audience independently will have to side with. Which one? That is up to the eye of the beholder.