The Fountainhead

Ayn Rand

Report by Ethan Hall

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The Fountainhead represents Rand's worldview through her striking characters

Howard Roark- Architect, represents individualism, and incorruptible (Protagonist)


Peter Keating- Architect, former classmate of Roark, "Golden Boy"


Ellsworth Toohey- Columnist, manipulator, power-hungry


Dominique Francon- Columnist, represents individualism, hates corrupted society


Gail Wynand- Owner of the Banner, not completely corrupt, married to Dominique

Setting

1922-1939

New York City, Conneticut, Massachusetts, and Ohio

Viewpoint

Third-person omniscient

Type of novel

Objectivist fiction: novel of ideas

To what lengths would you go to defend your ideals? How much would you sacrifice?

Howard Roark against the world...

The Fountainhead follows the life and career of Howard Roark, and the various individuals that impact his life. The book starts out with Roark being expelled from a prominent school of architecture, while his classmate, Keating, graduated at the top of the class, and becomes very successful at the firm, Francon and Heyer. Keating met Dominique Francon, his employers daughter, and tried to court her, while he went to Roark for advice on architecture and took credit for his ideas. Roark was expelled from school for his architectural style, which was based on the utility of the building. His buildings used the nature around it to perfectly accomplish their purpose. As Keating moved up within the firm, Roark struggled to find any commissions. Roark consistently refused to compromise his ideals for the sake of money or power.


After years and years of failed commissions, Roark left the architecture business to work in a stone quarry in Connecticut. It's here that he met Dominique Francon, and the two fell in love. However, Dominique didn't believe that Roark was as perfect as he seemed, so she aimed to test him through her column in the Banner, a prominent newspaper. Ellsworth Toohey was another writer for the Banner, and wanted to gain power over people through altruism. Toohey's practice was to convince other's that the only virtue worth possessing was self-sacrifice. As the public lost all sense of self-worth, Toohey came down into their lives and molded them to suit his purposes. His character was a direct foil to Roark. Toohey convinced a man to give Roark a commission for a temple, but then used his influence to destroy Roark publicly. Roark is sued for the temple, and Dominique defends him at the trial. Afterwards, Dominque asks Peter Keating to marry her.


Gail Wynand was the owner of the Banner, and an incredible publisher. He was at the end of his rope, but then he met Dominique Francon, who he fell in love with. Dominique had since married Peter Keating, and Wynand gave Peter the commission on a large project and a equally large check to divorce Dominique, so the two could get married. Wynand and Dominique got along well, because Wynand was an individualist at heart, but has since been corrupted. Eventually, Wynand scheduled a meeting with Roark about building a house for him and Dominique. Roark agreed, and became very close with Wynand through the process.


Peter Keating has failed as an architect, so he begged Toohey to give him one last commission in hopes of restoring his name. Toohey agreed, and knew that Keating would go to Roark for help, and that Roark would create the housing project without a second thought. Keating gave Roark's plans to Toohey, who had people under him managing the whole project. Toohey instructed his men to alter Roark's plans before they were built, which was the ultimate insult to Roark and his ideals. The climax of the book occurred when Roark discovered this, and then used dynamite to destroy the project. Roark was hated by nearly everyone, and Wynand ran himself and his paper into the ground trying to defend Roark from the public. Eventually, pickets forced Wynand to give up control of the Banner, and he is crushed. Before Roark's second trial, Dominique declared her love for Roark, and stood with him. Roark was found innocent. Afterwards, a millionaire decided to purchase the land of Roark's disgraced project, and gave Roark the opportunity to design it again. Gail Wynand and Roark worked together to design the Wynand Building, which was a monument dedicated to the spirit of individualism in Roark.

What was the author's purpose for writing the book?

Ayn Rand was born in St. Petersburg, Russia, and was growing up as the Bolshevik Party came into power and nationalized her family's wealth. She quickly disagreed with the ideals behind the party, such as collectivism, communism, and socialism. Rand's Howard Roark is the hero for individualism, and against everything that Rand hated.

Was there an obvious slant or bias in the writing? If so, how did it effect the writing and your understanding of the text?

Howard Roark was always the unquestionable hero of the story. As the ideal, incorruptible man, he never changed his perspective, and never compromised. Ayn definitely put him on a pedestal, and made Toohey, who represents collectivism, the villain. It praised Roark for his individualism and reprimanded society for the acceptance of mediocrity.

What did you enjoy about the book?

I really enjoyed Howard Roark's character. He was unlike anything I had ever read before. He was so impersonal, and so removed, that it was hard for me to understand him at first, but he was so intriguing to read about and explore.

Was the ending satisfactory?

Yes, The heroic character, despite his struggles during the beginning of the story, eventually triumphed and was recognized for his gifts.