In reading the fiction works of Ayn Rand, one becomes quickly aware of her use of characterization to display a set of mores that apply to a group in today’s society she is describing. In Anthem, for instance, even the names hold significance toward the point of the story. The name Liberty 5-3000, a gross smear of the philosophy of her world, becomes The Golden One, and then Gaea in the eyes of the protagonist. This use of a name, a face, to convey the message of a group becomes a common thread through all four of Miss Rand’s novels. The Fountainhead is no exception. Though the names don’t have quite the amount of significance, the characters presented are a startling appraisal of the personalities to be found in this country’s artistic culture.
Howard Roark is the protagonist of the story; he is the John Galt of this book. Throughout the course of the book, his character is balanced by a number of others. Henry Cameron is by far the saddest. While Howard represents a person that owns the trait of honesty, Henry Cameron represents the man that has sold out his beliefs. While Howard recognizes the necessity to create for the sake of the creation, Henry Cameron is the shadow of all those who felt that they could no longer create for ‘the establishment.’
“It’s no use wasting what you’ve got on an ideal that you’ll never reach, that they’ll never let you reach. It’s no use, taking that marvelous thing that you have and making a torture rack for yourself out of it.” …. “Accept them, Roark. Compromise.”
These were words from a man that was not Henry Cameron, but a shell of a man left for dead at the side of the road by an establishment t…
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“This, in every hour and every issue, is your basic moral choice: thinking or non-thinking, existence or nonexistence, A or non-A, entity or zero.”
“Then I shall build a barrier … around my home … a barrier my brothers will never be able to cross. For they have nothing to fight me with, save the brute force of their numbers. I have my mind.”
The power of Ego is the division point between the men of the writings of Ayn Rand; the mind is the tool that built her worlds, and is the only tool that will prevent mankind from facing the same battle that Howard Roark, John Galt, and Prometheus faced.
These men will triumph.
Rand, Ayn: Anthem. New York, N.Y.: Penguin Group, 1946.
Rand, Ayn: Atlas Shrugged. New York, N.Y.: Penguin Group, 1957.
Rand, Ayn: The Fountainhead. New York, N.Y.: The Bobbs-Merrill Company, Inc., 1943.
The Importance of Self-Esteem in The Fountainhead
Ayn Rand propagated her philosophy of Objectivism through her book The Fountainhead, and Howard Roark, the hero of the novel, is seen as a personification of her ideals. The idea of selfishness being a vice is refuted, and altruism is seen as a device to reduce humanity into collective mediocrity.
The essential difference between the heroes and the villains in the novel is that, as opposed to the villains, the heroes possess self-esteem; because of this, they retain their individuality, and do not degenerate into inconspicuousness in the sea of humanity. They place themselves above everyone and everything else, and achieving their own personal happiness with rationality as their guide is the sole purpose of their lives. The villains, on the other hand, live by the ideas of altruism and collectivism. They undermine the importance of the individual as opposed to the majority. They possess no sense of self-worth, and are reduced to a condition in which, in the words of Roark, “they have no self.” Ayn Rand thus rejects the claim that it is honourable to live for others or for society.
Howard Roark, the hero of the novel, is the embodiment of objective principles. He lives in his ‘pinnacle of loneliness’ with his own happiness as his only motivation. Neither does he sacrifice himself for others, nor does he sacrifice others to himself, but works for his rational self-interest. Roark reveres his ego, and refuses to be broken down by those who want him to compromise on his integrity. He believes that the motivation to think comes from the ego, as the mind is an attribute to the individual — there can be no ‘collective thought’. Therefore, every creator or achiever is a person who lives for himself. His relations with other…
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…himself to the things the mob ran. Wynand admires Roark, who manages to retain his individuality against the rest of the world.
The heroes of The Fountainhead possess self-esteem while the villains lack it. In Howard Roark’s words: “If one doesn’t respect oneself, one can have neither love nor respect for others.”
Works Cited and Consulted
Berliner, Michael S., ed. Letters of Ayn Rand. By Ayn Rand. New York: Dutton, 1995.
Branden, Nathaniel. My Years with Ayn Rand. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass Publishers, 1999.
Peikoff, Leonard. The Philosophy of Objectivism, A Brief Summary. Stein and Day, 1982.
Rand, Ayn. The Fountainhead. New York: Plume, 1994.
The Ayn Rand Institute. “A Brief Biography of Ayn Rand” [Online] available www.aynrand.org/aynrand/biography.html, 1995
Walker, Jeff. The Ayn Rand Cult. Carus Publishing Company, 1999