Warning – this paper is not formatted ! Who Is I? In Atlas Shrugged, Ayn Rand provides a well-written explanation of objectivism in a monumental novel about those who hold the world on their shoulders. Her characters are a myriad of individuals, ranging from the highest achievement possible: a human, to one of the most horrid creatures on this planet: a once-human imbecile. She gives the reader insight into the psyche of society and the motivations behind our actions. In this novel, Rand’s most righteous characters are those with the most internal conflict. They must shed their conditioning that has been imposed on them by the earth’s people and leave behind what they value as most precious. There is one character that is held higher than the rest. A man of morality, introspection, and enigma, he begins the book and finishes it. So, who is John Galt? John Galt is Rand’s brilliant character that blends imagination and intelligence. John Galt can be described as having the same opinion on life that Henry David Thoreau does. They both believe you shouldn’t carry the world on your shoulders; they realize that in fact by giving things to the needy (Rand would use the word unworthy) you aren’t enabling them to become better people, but merely allowing them o feed off of other’s success. Their opinions differ in that Thoreau had good intentions for all and Galt is only interested in the very best for the competent and likes the idea of leaving saps in the dust. Galt brings Atlas’s people from the earth into their Olympus, Galt’s Gulch. There, these remarkable competent people are able to create their own utopia of industry and live without the weight of the earth’s incompetents. He, like Dagny Taggart, Francisco d’Anconia, and Henry Reardon, is a person of high ideals and standards. He values the dollar because he knows that the dollar is the highest commodity of respect a human can give to another’s ability. The actual sign of the dollar is the symbol of its country’s initials: for the United States, “the only country in history where wealth was not acquired by looting, but by production, not by force, but by trade… The symbol of man’s right to his own mind, to his work, to his life, to his happiness, to himself” (Atlas Shrugged, 637).
Heroism in Ayn Rand’s The Fountainhead
Heroism in The Fountainhead
The Fountainhead is a story about heroism. The novel is a triumphant cry of protest against all those who insist that life is about mediocrity. That man is destined to suffer. The greatness of The Fountainhead lies in its ability to inspire hope and confidence in its readers, to show how much is possible. For more than fifty years now, people all over the world have been looking towards this great book for support and sanction, for encouragement and hope, for ideas and answers. The Fountainhead applauds strength and greatness in human spirit, giving its readers a hero they can admire, respect, idolize and love. Howard Roark — the hero, the ideal man, the human being.
When Roark said in the courtroom, “Independence is the only gauge of human virtue and value, what a man is and makes of himself, not what he has or hasn’t for others”, he summarized the whole philosophy in these handful of words. To Roark, independence meant everything. From this one value of his arose all his other values and qualities. To him, there was no substitute and no alternative to independence. He held no authority above the judgement of his mind, he held no one higher than himself. Roark felt a fundamental indifference towards others — he cared two hoots about what the world thought of him.
The people Roark chose as friends and comrades all shared this basic quality – independence. His teacher, Henry Cameron, was a fiercely independent man. So were Steven Mallory, Austen Heller, Mike Donnigan and Gail Wynand. Roark’s only hallmark of a man was his independence, or the lack of it. His ‘enemies’, the men who hated Roark, yet recognised his greatness, were all dependents and parasites. Peter Keating thirsted…
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…ife as Keating and Toohey saw it. A choice between life as it “ought to be” and life as it is.
The Fountainhead is more than a story about heroism. It is a story about a way of life. It will continue to be the most inspiring book of all times and will continue to hit readers with its immortal philosophy and tremendous courage. It will continue to offer answers. The choice is ours.
Works Cited and Consulted
Berliner, Michael S., ed. Letters of Ayn Rand. By Ayn Rand. New York: Dutton, 1995.
Maslow, A.H. (1968) Toward a Psychology of Being. New York: Van Nostrand.
Peikoff, Leonard. The Philosophy of Objectivism, A Brief Summary. Stein and Day, 1982.
Rand, Ayn. The Fountainhead. New York: Plume, 1994.
Rogers, C.R. (1980) A Way of Being. Boston: Houghton Mifflin
Walker, Jeff. The Ayn Rand Cult. Carus Publishing Company, 1999