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:
Movie Reviews on my blog:
Mirch | Roman Holiday | Babel | Guzaarish | 7 Khoon Maaf
- Living Libertarian (538refugees.wordpress.com)
- Ayn Rand .The Fountainhead (socyberty.com)
- Ayn Rand while commuting (whattheheckisart.blogspot.com)
- Old School Summary Analysis (socyberty.com)
- CliffsNotes: ATLAS SHRUGGED by Ayn Rand (fairplay740.wordpress.com)
- Honors English (slacktivist.typepad.com)
- Philosophy Weekend: The Cage Match Between Ayn Rand and Carl Jung (litkicks.com)
- Atlas Shrugged In 2011 (michaellhanson.wordpress.com)
- Atlas Shrugged, the Movie: The Story Behind the Camera (dailyfinance.com)