The Fountainhead

The Fountainhead is a 1943 novel by Ayn Rand. The story firmly establishes the concept of ‘Individualism’. The book’s title is a reference to Rand’s statement that “person’s ego is the fountainhead of human progress”.

Our culture is full of messages as these:

~Pursue not what brings you happiness, rather what brings happiness to others.

~Every suffering in the world comes from cherishing the self, and every happiness for cherishing others.~ Shantideva

~ Could you spend the next 12 hours without using “I”?

All the above quotes establish that a person must exist as a means towards the end of others. Ayn Rand doesn’t buy into any of these. Neither do I. (As a funny quote goes: If it’s true that we are here to help others, then what exactly are the others here for?) According to her ‘our own happiness is our only moral duty. We don’t exist to serve others’. “By what conceivable right can anyone demand that a human being exist for anything but for his own joy?” She questions why is happiness considered noble if its for others but immoral if it’s our own.

Howard Roark is the protagonist of Ayn Rand’s novel The Fountainhead. He is independent & a free thinker. He lives from his own ideals for his own happiness. He has integrity & never compromises on his values to please others. Roark is independent of good or bad opinions of others. He is a self actualized & an enlightened person. He is a contrast to Peter Keating & Ellesworth Toohey.

Peter Keating: is a conformist who lives for fame, always seeking approval from others, always doing what would look good to others & not what he actually wants: He wanted to be a painter but became an architect instead; He loved Cathy but married Dominique because Dominique is more beautiful & sophisticated & hence a better wife to impress the world; he rises in the profession by flattery, manipulation, lying, cheating n even near-murder. “Always be what people want you to be,” is his motto. He is what he is because of others, he depends on others for his identity.

Recently at an award function a famous actress said: “I want to thank you all. Whatever I am is because of all of you n your love”. Another actor exclaimed, “It’s so good to be recognized everywhere I go”. what a pathetic way to exist…where will they be when the applause dies down?? One must be whatever one is irrespective of other people’s opinions!!

All the so called popular people are in fact Peter Keatings. He has no sense of self. No wonder that his fall is faster than his rise & he ends up being a miserable hag. He is always concerned with what others are thinking about him rather than how he himself is feeling.

 The world is full of conformists like peter keating. All those who run the rat race, & ‘Keep up with Joneses’ are manifestations of Peter Keating mentality. In fact the society calls Peter Keating like people ‘successful’, children are encouraged to become Peter Keatings!!!

( A dialogue between Roark & Keating: [Roark to Keating:] If you want my advice, Peter,” he said at last, “you’ve made a mistake already. By asking me. By asking anyone. Never ask people. Not about your work. Don’t you know what you want? “)

Ellesworth Toohey: has lust for power & is manipulative. He lives for manipulating others & controlling them. He glorifies self sacrifice n living for others, thus keeping people miserable ‘cos people are bound to be unhappy unless they start living for themselves. Miserable people are good followers & slaves. Ellesworth Toohey is also dependent on others to give him a sense of identity. (A dialogue between Toohey & Roark—Toohey: “We’re alone. Why don’t you tell me what you think of me?” Roark: “But I don’t think of you”.)

The only one who is happy at the end of the book is Howard even though he had the hardest life.

Fountainhead is the most important book I’ve ever read. It’s a book that make a point to read again & again. Each time I read it, I understand it at deeper level & gain fresh insights

Other Book Reviews on My Blog:

Confessions of a Shopoholic | The Bridges of Madison County

 Movie Reviews on my blog:

 Mirch | Roman HolidayBabelGuzaarish |  7 Khoon Maaf

Tanu Weds Manu |  The King’s Speech | Dhobi Ghat 

 13 conversations about one thing 

Bruce Almighty | What About Bob | Forrest Gump | Bheja Fry | Ground Hog Day

The Pursuit of Happyness | The Bucket List | Peepli Live | 3 Idiots


March 16, 2011. Tags: , , , , , . Book Review, Books, Fountainhead, Reading, Reflections/Musings, Wisdom.


  1. A.M. Kuska replied:

    I you liked Fountainhead, you might also like “Anthem” by the same author. Mind you, the premise is so real it’s scary. O.O

  2. Up-An Animated Movie from Pixar « Ritu’s Weblog replied:

    […] The Fountainhead | Confessions of a Shopoholic | The Bridges of Madison County […]

  3. Turning 30!!! « Ritu’s Weblog replied:

    […] The Fountainhead […]

  4. Bookreviews at BookRack replied:

    I love the message in Atlas Shrugged but not Anthem that much. Really well written review.

    Do visit us too !

  5. Game: Movie Review « Ritu’s Weblog replied:

    […] The Fountainhead | Confessions of a Shopoholic | The Bridges of Madison County […]

  6. PhX replied:

    Nice Blog, Ritu! The Fountainhead is the first Ayn Rand novel I’ve read. Her best fiction novel however in my viewpoint is Atlas Shrugged. In both the novels, her philosophy Objectivism is implicit but you get to know more about its principles in Atlas Shrugged. Atlas Shrugged is an absorbing, hard-to-put-down read.

    I suggest you read her non-fiction works- Philosophy Who Needs It, Capitalism The Unknown Ideal, etc. Also, for an Objectivist, Objectivism: The Philosophy of Ayn Rand by Leonard Peikoff is a very important work that I’d highly recommend!

  7. ritusthoughtcatcher replied:

    Hi Phx…thanks a lot…Fountainhead is the Ayn Rand’s book that I love, perhaps because it focusses on what goes on in the mind of single individual, Howard Roark & how he carries on his life heroically doing what he wants to do n not what everyone expects him to do. This in itself is quite an achievement in a world full of Peter Keatings & Ellesworth Tooheys who manage to convince most of the people to join them in their dirty games of consumerism, rat race, living to earn praises etc….I must confess I’ve tried to read Atlas Shrugged a couple of times but somehow couldn’t go beyong first few pages which was kindof surprising to me too…finally I caught hold of an Audio book & I’m happy to report that I’m on the verge of finishing it…Review of Atlas Shrugged coming up soon, so watch out for this space :D…I’ve read Leonard Peikoff’s book as a teenager, perhaps time to read it again…currently reading virtue of selfishness besides Atlas Shrugged…I eventually plan to read all her books…I’m a student of Ayn Rand’s philosophy

  8. Atlas Shrugged « Ritu’s Weblog replied:

    […] this book a couple of times before. Much as I loved (& still love, ofcourse) Rand’s Fountainhead (which  incidentally I’ve read more than a couple of times), I just couldn’t go beyond […]

  9. It’s time of the year « बकर replied:

    […] The Fountainhead ( […]

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