I think Jabberwocky almost misses the point here. I would argue
that Kress' and Rand's answers to the
question of the Beggars in Spain are far more similar than one might
From the quoted passage, I think we can agree that Tony is playing
the role of the hard-core Objectivist, while Leisha is taking a
more subtle position. Since Leisha is the protagonist, one may be
tempted to think that she is presenting the author's opinion, much as
Rearden and Miss Taggart do in Atlas Shrugged, while the minor
characters serve merely as foils (e.g., Mr. Taggart, Mrs. Rearden,
etc.). I would argue that this is not a correct interpretation of
Beggars in Spain.
Leisha is killed in her efforts to help the weak. If Leisha
represents a softer take on Objectivism, Kress explicitly puts a
bullet in the head of that idea.
By the end of the trilogy, it is well established that when the top
of society (the Donkeys) props up the bottom of society (the Livers),
the destruction of everyone's humanity is assured. The
super-Sleepless set humanity free by destroying the system that
enslaves them, but they also destroy humanity itself in the process.
Thus, I would argue that the message of Beggars in Spain is that
our best option now is to live in a nearly Objectivist way. Only
when humanity becomes something supra-human, may we have a chance to
free ourselves from the down sides of Objectivism. Unfortunately,
the price for this transition is our identity as humans.