Dynamics of Egotism and Altruism in Ayn Rand’s The Fountainhead

August 1, 2019 by Essay Writer

The Russian Revolution of 1917 greatly influenced the lives of Russian citizens as socialism became a driving political force. Ayn Rand, who grew up during this time of political change and uncertainty, experienced firsthand the effects of socialism and therefore developed a feeling of enmity toward everything socialism stood for. Rand’s experience in Russia served as a catalyst in forming her philosophy that is the basis of her novel The Fountainhead: that true human integrity can be attained only by resisting society’s corruptive influence by performing selfish acts, and never compromising one’s ideals and individuality. Rand uses two specific characters to develop this theme throughout the course of her novel. The first character and hero of the novel, Howard Roark, embodies the perfect man. Even through overwhelming adversity he does not compromise his beliefs, which ultimately attributes to his great moral success. In direct contrast to Roark is Peter Keating, a “second-hander” who lives to gain the approval of others. Although he experiences financial success, his inability to live by Rand’s “standards for moral success” eventually lead to his character’s demise. By examining the contrast that drives this novel through the opposite ideals that Roark and Keating live their lives by, and by following their architectural careers, as well as their relationships with others, Rand is able to demonstrate to readers the theme that has held a great influence in her own life: that society weakens man’s ego, and society’s harmful influence can only be resisted if one acts to promote his own self interest above all else.Because The Fountainhead is set around the course of Roark’s and Keating’s architectural careers, the actual art of architecture plays a large role in Rand’s development of the two characters. Readers are able to see the major differences in the two men by viewing their careers alone. Roark’s view of how buildings ought to be, and his inability to compromise his architectural designs to even the slightest degree play a large part in Rand’s presentation of Roark as the “ideal man.”Roark’s view on how buildings should be designed is evident in the opening scene of the novel when his unique and individualistic approach to architecture is described as being, “not Classical, […] not Gothic, […] not Renaissance. They were only Howard Roark” (Rand, The Fountainhead 7). When Roark’s design leads to his expulsion from the Stanton Institute of Technology, the Dean also brings Roark’s unique style of architecture to attention. He notes that Roark’s designs are “ ‘contrary to every principle we have tried to teach you, contrary to all established precedents and traditions of Art’” (Rand, The Fountainhead 9). As his meeting with the Dean continues, Roark continues to ask the Dean why past architecture is important and even goes as far as to criticize the Parthenon, an extremely distinguished monument throughout architectural history. Through this meeting with the Dean, Roark’s intentions are clear: that the past and even the present do not determine his design of a building. According to Roark, “A building is alive, like a man. Its integrity is to follow its own truth, its one single theme and to serve its own single purpose” (Rand, The Fountainhead 12). Through this line, Rand is using the art of architecture to convey her theme that man must follow his own ideals, not the ideals set by society.In many incidents throughout the novel, Rand also demonstrates her theme by Roark’s refusal to compromise his architectural design on many projects that could have brought him great financial success. One instance is during the building of the Sanborn house. Roark refuses to add a few simple changes that would have pleased the home owners, and also when he realizes that an addition needed to be made during construction, he actually pays for it himself, just to get the satisfaction of designing, in his mind, a perfect house. When his perfect house is finally constructed though, Mrs. Sanburn refuses to live in it. This obviously does not affect Roark because as he viewed everything else in life, he only designs to please himself, not his customers. This philosophy is demonstrated when Roark says, “‘But why should you care about what people will say? All you have to do is please yourself’” (Rand, The Fountainhead 24). In this situation, Roark realizes that his refusal to change would eventually lead to him not receiving commission on the house, but that did not faze him, for maintaining his integrity was of a much higher importance to Roark than money would ever be.Another instance of Roark’s staunch insubordination to mainstream architecture is shown in a scene in which a successful architecture firm, Francon & Heyer, ask Roark to design a building in a Classical Greek style. Because this is for a man who pays mass amounts of money to the firm, this project would have essentially gained Roark a very much needed paycheck. But, because Roark says he would only design something innovative, he is fired on the spot. During this part of the novel, Roark is nearly broke, and yet the fact that he still refuses to design something classical shows his strong and obstinate character.One major event that projects Roark as an “incorruptible man” is after Roark establishes a friendship with Gail Wynand, editor of The Banner a major architectural newspaper. Because of events in his past, Wynand is convinced of the fact that a truly perfect man, a man unable to be touched by society’s influence, a man like Howard Roark, does not exist. After meeting Roark, however, Wynand’s mindset slowly begins to shift. The event that truly accomplishes this though was when Wynand asks Roark to design a home for him. He tells Roark though that he will only allow this to happen if Roark agrees to design exactly the way that Wynand tells him to and that he “ ‘obey the will of the majority’ ” (Rand, The Fountainhead 556) for the rest of his career as Wynand’s personal architect. He explains that Roark will get to design quite a bit of houses and that although he won’t like them, he “‘will make money for [them] both’ ” (Rand, The Fountainhead 557). While accepting this offer would have put Roark in a state of financial stability for the rest of his career, something that he hadn’t be able to establish throughout the novel thus far, Roark adamantly tells Wynand to “ ‘shut up’ ” and to “ ‘[never] let [him] hear any architectural suggestions’ ” (Rand, The Fountainhead 557). It is at this instant when Wynand’s entire philosophy on mankind changes; he realizes that men like Roark do exist in the world, and for the time being, his character has reached total redemption through witnessing Roark’s strong character.Though Roark displays innumerable examples of his refusal to compromise throughout the novel, perhaps the most significant and violent example occurs during an event in which Roark blows up a construction site in which his original plan had been altered. During this scene, Peter Keating is asked to design Cordlandt Homes, which is considered a major architectural challenge. Keating knows he is unable to design something like this on his own and goes to Roark for help. Because Roark designs for his pure love of it, not the money, he agrees to help Keating and let Keating take the credit and money for his work, but only under the condition that Keating does not change Roark’s design. When Roark goes to visit the construction site one day though, he sees that his plans have indeed been altered. At this point in the novel, readers are able to notice the clash between forces in which Roark’s architectural ideals, and those of the mediocre majority, come head to head. Roark takes care of the incident in a fashion that is typical of his character: by blowing up the building, an act that cannot be reversed or countered, and an act that demonstrates Roark’s strong defiance to mediocrity. During the scene in which Roark is on trial after his demolition of the Cordlandt development, it is his speech that he offers in defense to the jury that portrays Rand’s message. Through a moving speech, Roark delivers all of the principles that The Fountainhead are based on. Roark begins by celebrating “creators” and “men of unborrowed vision” (Rand, The Fountainhead, 710), and explains how it is human nature to seek truth, rather than to serve others. He condemns “second-handers” like Keating and establishes the difference between men like Keating and men like him by saying, “The creator lives for his work. He needs no other men. His primary goal is within himself. The parasite lives second-hand. He needs others. Others become his prime motive’” (Rand, The Fountainhead, 712). Roark sees himself as a creator and explains how he had given Cordlandt to others, but once it had been changed he could not stand to see his vision corrupted and therefore had to destroy it (“Sparknote on Ayn Rand’s The Fountainhead). After this speech is delivered, the jury finds Roark not guilty. Through this speech, Rand is able to offer her opinions that drive the novel. Roark’s selfish character triumphs over the mediocre majority and therefore, Rand’s message triumphs as well. Roark remained steadfast in his convictions through everything he was faced with throughout the novel and never compromised his integrity, and because of this, he was able to resist society’s corruption, allowing him gain complete moral achievement, which means more than money or recognition by society.As Roark’s architectural career is being established throughout the novel, Rand also juxtaposes the career of Peter Keating, whose career starts out very similar to Roark’s, but ultimately develops into something opposite, and in turn has a large influence in the derailing of Keating’s moral character by the end of the novel. Keating’s motivations for designing buildings, as well as the manner he does his work by sets him in direct contrast to Howard Roark, and also make him the antithesis to Rand’s philosophy. Through examining Keating’s career, it is obvious that Keating represents everything that Roark is not, a man that “[smiles] and [smiles], yet [is] a villain.” Keating keeps a perfectly respectable façade, but continually uses others to succeed and has no problem lying, cheating, or stepping on anyone along the way.Though Peter Keating’s career in architecture is a successful one, the way he views his work, and architecture in general as “only unavoidable details on the surface of his days” (Rand, The Fountainhead 57), are that of a direct contrast to Roark’s. For example, Keating is first introduced in the novel at his graduation ceremony. At this time Keating is offered a scholarship to study at a prestigious French architectural school, and is also offered a job at Francon & Heyer, a very successful and well known architectural firm in New York. While Keating knows that additional schooling will make him into a better architect in the long run, he struggles with the decision because taking the job at Francon & Heyer will further his reputation amongst his peers. Because his flawed personality does not allow him to decide things for himself, he immediately seeks advice from others. Keating’s mother offers him advice saying, “‘of course if you go [to Beaux-Arts], Mr. Francon will take somebody else. People will talk about that. Everybody knows that Mr. Francon picks out the best boy from Stanton every year for his office. I wonder how it will look if some other boy gets the job?’”(Rand, The Fountainhead, 23) That comment was enough to force Keating to accept the Francon job, for he did not want to be looked upon poorly by his peers.It is at this point in the novel readers also learn Keating’s motivation for becoming an architect. While Roark’s motivation for being an architect is his pure love of it, and his never changing goal to always design the perfect building, Keating, on the other hand, “hated himself for having chosen to be an architect” (Rand, The Fountainhead 63) and had wanted to be an artist, but his mother chose architecture as an alternative that would hold a better use for his skill in drawing. Keating notes that his mother “had pushed him into his career,” (Rand, The Fountainhead 20) telling him, “‘Architecture is such a respectable profession. Besides, you meet the best people in it’” (Rand, The Fountainhead 20). This scene shows readers that Keating obviously has no passion for his profession, if he didn’t even aspire to be what he is on his own. This lack of passion is obviously reflective of the mediocre work he does throughout his career.Readers are also able to witness many instances of cheating in Keating’s career through his continual habit of taking Roark’s work and calling it his own. This is first witnessed during Keating’s first design job after being named chief designer at Francon & Heyer. Keating puts together a design but because of his inconsistent character, he does not have enough confidence in himself to simply turn it in, and he must seek the approval of someone else, which in this case was Roark, to finish his design. Keating continually expresses his uncertainty and low confidence in himself by repeating phrases such as “I’m not sure” and “What do you think?” (Rand, The Fountainhead 64). Keating’s doubtfulness in himself and his choice to take his work to Roark to alter once again shows Keating’s defective personality as he can never remain steadfast in his opinions and has no problem compromising his work in order to gain success. It is here that readers also see Keating turn away from selfish ideals when he doubts himself and his skills because selfishness and self-esteem are related (Rand, The Virtue of Selfishness xi).Another scene in which Keating’s desire to cheat to gain success is one in which Keating chooses to enter an architecture contest for a prestigious motion picture company, Cosmo-Slotnick. Keating spends many hours trying to put together an acceptable design. When he finishes, it is noted that “It looked good… it might be good… he was not sure. He had no one to ask” (Rand, The Fountainhead 171). As seen before, Keating does not know how to please himself. This scene demonstrates Keating’s perpetual need to rely on the opinions of others in order to gain satisfaction; and because he had yet to gain anyone’s approval other than his own for his design, he could not send his entry in yet. This prompts Keating once again to shamefully go to Roark to get his opinion. After spending hours altering Keating’s design, Roark gives Keating a new and improved design to send to the competition. Keating sends in the design on the behalf of himself and his firm, and in the end, wins the competition with Roark’s work. As Rand is trying to convey though, Keating cannot last forever by living for the approval of others, especially in his career. As the novel continues and the art of architecture changes through the course of time, Keating gains a reputation of being too old fashioned, and without other men to recommend him, he is unable to gain any commissions. Keating’s last professional opportunity lies in a housing development plan, and as usual, he recognizes that he cannot complete it alone and goes to Roark for help. It is at this point in the novel that Keating realizes what he has made of himself his entire career and that Roark has helped him “for the sake of architecture, not our of pity or to gain the upper hand”(“ Sparknote on Ayn Rand’s The Fountainhead”). He says to Roark, “Howard, I’m a parasite. I’ve been a parasite all my life. You designed my best projects at Stanton. You designed my first house I ever built. You designed the Cosmo-Slotnick Building. I have fed on you and on all the men like you who have lived before we were born.[…] I have taken that which was not mine and given nothing in return. I had nothing to give” (Rand, The Fountainhead 601).Keating’s realization comes too late though as he is unable to save himself from the hollowness of his own life, and it is clear that Rand shows no sympathy for him, or men like him (“Sparknote on Ayn Rand’s The Fountainhead”). The demise of Keating’s career plays a large role in Rand’s portrayal of her theme. Since moral achievement is concern with what exactly is in one’s self interest, accepting what needs to be done to reach it, refusing to betray it, and not compromising one’s values, (Branden, 70) Keating is said to reach a “moral failure.” He had based his entire career solely off of the opinions of others and was motivated to design only to gain the approval of other people, not himself. By having no set of standards to promote himself and always compromising even for standards that were lower and of no value to Keating, he had completely went against the selfish message that Rand preached, and therefore, his character had to fail (Branden, 67).Along with The Fountainhead’s architectural backdrop that allows Rand to portray her theme, readers must also consider the relationships Roark and Keating hold with other people in order to fully grasp the ideals Rand is trying to get across. While Roark selects friends that will make him happy instead of how they will look to the rest of society, Keating does the opposite and chooses friends based on whether or not they will further his reputation (Schein, 306-307).The first major difference between Roark and Keating is how they view people in general. Because Roark felt that he did not need people in order to advance himself, “He had not made or sought a single friend on the campus” and he “refused to join a fraternity” (Rand, The Fountainhead 14). In fact, it was noted that Roark “had no sense of people” (Rand, The Fountainhead 64) at all. His concern with only himself is demonstrated in the line, “Howard Roark saw no one. For him, the streets were empty. He could have walked there naked without concern” (Rand, The Fountainhead 5). In many instances, it is mentioned how Roark’s eyes saw straight through others. This is most adequately described by Peter Keating’s mother, who notes, “He stood looking at her. She knew that he did not see her. No, she thought, it was not that exactly. He always looked straight at people and his damnable eyes never missed a thing, it was only that he made people feel as if they did not exist”(Rand, The Fountainhead 5). Once again, Roark’s eyes are also noticed by the Dean who notes, “Roark made [the Dean] uncomfortable. Roark’s eyes were fixed on him politely. The Dean thought, there’s nothing wrong with the way he’s looking at me, in fact it’s quite correct, most properly attentive; only it’s as if I were not here”(Rand, The Fountainhead 9). In another scene Keating notes Roark’s eyes in the line, “Roark’s eyes made [Keating] uncomfortable and that made [Keating] angry (Rand, The Fountainhead 23). Rand uses these scenes that indicate how Roark literally views people to demonstrate to readers the true essence of Roark’s personality; that he sees no need for others, as they do not affect how he lives his live.Along with the fact that Roark saw no one but himself, he also aroused feelings of resentment in other people for no particular reason. This is shown through the lines, “Some remained staring after him with sudden resentment. They could give no reason for it: it was an instinct his presence awakened in most people” (Rand, The Fountainhead 5). Another scene which expresses resentment towards Roark, takes place after Roark’s expulsion from college. Mrs. Keating reacts negatively to a message sent from the Dean that he would like to speak with Roark in which it is noted, “It was not her curiosity alone that prompted her to action; it was a secret fear that the sentence of the Board might be revoked” (Rand, The Fountainhead 8). In this scenario, Roark had never wronged Mrs. Keating in the past, or done anything at all for her to dislike him, yet she did based on instinct alone.In direct contrast to Roark’s stoicism and his opinion that people did not matter to him, is how Peter Keating views other people. Keating places others in high regards and lives his life in order to gain their approval, and never wanting to offend anyone. Roark most accurately describes how men like Keating view people saying, “What was his aim in life? Greatness—in other people’s eyes. Fame, admiration, envy—all that which comes from others. Others dictated his convictions, which he did not hold, but he was satisfied that others believed he held them. Others were his motive power and his prime concern. He didn’t want to be great, but to be thought great. He didn’t want to build, but be an admired builder. He borrowed from others in order to make an impression on others […] It’s his ego that he’s betrayed and given up” (Rand, The Fountainhead 633).This line shows how important Keating feels that other people are to him, and unlike Roark, how he works only to please them.Keating is immediately established as Roark’s opposite from the first time he is introduced. Keating is first introduced as he is sitting at his graduation ceremony. Unlike Roark, he is constantly focused on who is looking at him and his concern is shown through the line, “[…] he knew that many people were looking at him and would look at him later. He did not glance back, but the consciousness of those centered glances never left him” (Rand, The Fountainhead 17). In another scene it is noted that “He wondered, as he walked, whether people were looking at him” (Rand, The Fountainhead 20). These two scenes show Keating’s obvious concern on how he is portrayed to others, even others who do not know him.While readers already know how Roark tends to stay away from people, Keating is described as opposite to Roark in that he was “the star student of Stanton, president of the student body, captain of the track team, member of the most popular fraternity, voted the most popular man on the campus”(Rand, The Fountainhead 17).Also in contrast to Roark is how Keating’s eyes are described. In one line it mentions that “Keating’s eyes had glowed with an instant kind of warmth, as if Shlinker were his most precious friend; Keating’s eyes glowed like that on everybody” (Rand, The Fountainhead 19). In another scene it mentions that Keating “[caressed] those he passed with the soft glow of his eyes, the brilliant eyes that seemed to pick each man in turn out of the room, out of the universe, as the most important specimen of humanity and as Keating’s dearest friend”(Rand, The Fountainhead 28). These descriptions of Keating’s eyes help to show readers just how important other people are to him which is something that he heavily relies on through the course of the novel.Along with how Roark and Keating view people in general, the relationships that the two establish with others also offer large insights in developing the personalities of the two men. The people who are attracted to Roark and the people Roark befriends are those who are similar to him, people who are independent, and can recognize genius when they see it. The introduction of Roark to many of the characters who are similar to him prompt those characters to reevaluate their own views on people and life. On the other hand, the people who are attracted to Keating are those who celebrate mediocrity, and those who also need others in order to be successful. Keating has virtually no effect on these people, as he is too weak to gain recognition for doing anything that would set himself away from his peers.Readers first come across an independent man who Roark admires and asks for a job in Henry Cameron. It is important to understand Cameron’s background to understand why Roark admires this man and wants to work for him. Cameron was once an extremely popular architect but after the explosion of architecture that was to be based off of former designs, Cameron lost almost all of his clients because he refused to compromise his work. Cameron’s philosophy on buildings was very similar to that of Roark’s. Like Roark, Cameron believed that “the form of a building must follow its function; that the structure of a building is key to its beauty […] (Rand, The Fountainhead 35). Cameron’s demeanor was also similar to Roark’s in that he “had never known to face people. They did not matter to him” (Rand, The Fountainhead 35). Cameron reflects on his own experiences when talking to Roark and warns him that because he has integrity, society will crush him. He tells him that he should compromise now so he does not end up the way Cameron has. Cameron warns Roark that mediocre architects will always get commissions while Roark will be reduced to nothing. When he questions Roark if he wants that kind of future Roark replies “yes.” Roark’s relationship with Cameron is furthered when Roark spends Cameron’s last dying days with him. In Cameron’s dying words he tells him to ignore what he had previously said about compromising and to continue to remain steadfast in his convictions. This revelation shows readers how Cameron’s philosophy on how people should live life had been altered after coming in contact with Roark. After learning of Cameron’s past and seeing the similarities between him and Roark, it is clear to readers why Roark had chosen to ask Cameron for a job, because the men that he chooses to associate with are strong uncompromising men like him. Even minor characters in the novel that are strong men like Roark are affected by his ingenuity. For example, while Roark is working on a job site one day in a brief stint with Francon & Heyer, he meets an electrician named Mike who is very impressed with his skills. Mike and Roark instantaneously establish a connection, and the two become good friends. In a line describing Mike, there are major similarities between himself and Roark. It is said that People meant very little to Mike, but their performance a great deal. He worshipped expertness of any kind. He loved his work passionately and had no tolerance for anything save for other single-track devotions. He was a master in his own field and he felt no sympathy except for mastery. His view of the world was simple: there were the able and there were the incompetent; he was not concerned with the latter (Rand, The Fountainhead 86).This description of Mike shows how he views people like Roark. Because he loves his work as Roark does, and how he would not settle for anything less than perfection, it is obvious why he would be attracted to a man like Roark. Mike also mentions how the only architect that he has ever liked was Cameron, and when Roark mentions that he worked for Cameron, Mike is relieved that architects like Cameron still exist.Another minor character that is affected by Roark’s personality and immediately takes to him is Stephen Mallory. Readers learn earlier that Mallory once had tried to kill Ellsworth Toohey, who represents altruism to the fullest degree and has Marxist ideals that require others to follow and sacrifice their own individuality and self dependence (Novels for Students, 107). This incident gives readers foresight that Mallory will agree with the ideals of Roark, because he tried to eliminate the ideals that are diametrically opposed to Roark’s. When Mallory and Roark finally meet and speak to each other, Mallory breaks down into tears with the recognition that uncompromising men like Roark still exist in the world. He says to Roark, “‘I’m very grateful for you. Not for giving me a job. Not for coming here. Not for anything you’ll ever do for me. Just for what you are’’ (Rand, The Fountainhead 338). This scene once again demonstrates the effect Roark has on men that are similar to him–one simple meeting can cause them to reevaluate everything that they have ever believed about humanity.One of the most important relationships that is developed in The Fountainhead is that of Roark and Dominique Francon. Dominique is introduced as being very similar to Roark. Dominique chooses to isolate herself from society because of her belief that society destroys all that is beautiful and pure (“Sparknote on Ayn Rand’s The Fountainhead”). Dominique believes that the mediocre majority will ruin the world, and refuses to love anything, because of her belief that society will eventually destroy that too. This all changes after meeting Roark for the first time. While Dominique does everything to resist Roark, she cannot help herself from caring for him. This occurs during a scene in which Roark rapes Dominique. Although this is considered a violent act, Dominique needed it to awaken herself from her “loveless existence”(“Sparknote on Ayn Rand’s The Fountainhead”). Because she believes in the beauty and purity of Roark and his integrity, she desperately seeks to destroy him the rest of the novel before society gets the chance to. While Dominique makes frequent trips to see Roark during the night, during the day she spends her time pitting the media against Roark and attempting to stop him from gaining commissions. In reality, Dominique desperately hopes that Roark will not be affected by her attempts at ruining him which would consequently change her world view. By the end of the novel, Dominique is able to see that Roark had remained unchanged during society’s attack against his character. Dominique’s entire perception of the world had changed as her and Roark become married. Roark’s relationships he establishes with others show Rand’s theme by that Roark will not befriend people that have lower standards than he does, for that too would equal a compromise of ideals, which would obviously indicate a corruption of Roark by society. While Roark develops relationships with only the men who can understand and admire his character, Keating, on the other hand, is never able to develop a healthy relationship with anybody. Keating uses people to get himself ahead and because of this, he does not have any kind of impact on anyone’s life and is never able to love. For example, while Roark chooses to work for an architect that he admires, rather than someone renowned, Keating chooses to work for Francon & Heyer, and immediately befriends Francon. Readers soon learn that the success of the firm comes from the design of a man named, Stengel, and that Francon does not do much at all in the office. The fact that Keating befriends a man like Francon parallels the plagiaristic attribute of his own personality, and shows that like Keating, Francon gained his position through others, not on his own. In another scene, Lucius Heyer, Francon’s partner at the firm and another man whom Keating had befriended, is dying. Instead of being concerned with a dying friend, all Keating can focus on is how the position at the firm will be left open. Although Keating has a large chance of gaining the open position by winning an architectural competition that is being offered during this time, Keating’s lack of self confidence leads him to believe that he will not win, and will therefore have to find different means of gaining the promotion. While Keating is sitting at Heyer’s bedside, instead of comforting him in one of his final hours of life as Roark had done with Cameron, Keating chooses to blackmail Heyer into retiring before the results of the competition could be announced. Because this idea makes Heyer flustered and nervous, he suffers a stroke and dies. By witnessing Keating’s cruelty towards a dying friend, it is evident to readers that men are nothing more to Keating than objects used to further his own career and reputation.While strong men similar to Roark are attracted to him, men that celebrate mediocrity, namely Ellsworth Toohey, are attracted to Keating. Toohey makes a living celebrating the mediocrity of the majority, making it impossible for individualistic people like Roark to succeed. Because of this, he is instantly drawn to Keating. Toohey sees the mediocrity in Keating’s work and works hard to promote him and make sure he is successful. Toohey drives much of Keating’s career and delivers his speech promoting selflessness as he says to him, “Only when you learn to deny your ego, completely, […] only then will you achieve the greatness which I have always expected of you”(Rand, The Fountainhead 330). Toohey’s sentiments are the exact opposite than that of Roark’s which is why it was most fitting in developing a contrast between Roark and Keating, to pair Toohey and Keating together. By the end of the novel though, Toohey’s true motivation shines through when Keating, convinced that he and Toohey are close friends, asks him to recommend him for a certain project. When Toohey coldly tells him no, Keating notices Toohey has taken on a new favorite and essentially left Keating out to dry. It is here that Toohey reveals his true nature and motivations telling Keating, “‘I don’t believe in individualism, Peter. I don’t believe that any one man is any one thing which everybody else can’t be. I believe we’re all equal and interchangeable. A position you hold today can be held by anybody and everybody tomorrow’” (Rand, The Fountainhead 595). He continues by saying he advocates mediocrity to thwart the abilities and success of truly talented men. It is here Keating realizes that he and Toohey were never friends, and Toohey never saw anything special in him. Similar to how Keating uses people, he too learns that he was used by Toohey to help hinder Roark’s career. This scene helps to show the beginning of Keating’s demise because rather than following his own ideals and befriending people that he truly admired, he took to men like Toohey who had no use for Keating other than to use him for his own separate plans.Another relationship Keating establishes in the novel is one between him and Dominique Francon. Unlike Roark who befriends people who will make him happy, Keating proposes to Dominique to help elevate his position at Francon & Heyer. Keating knows he does not love Dominique, but realizes that other men will be jealous of him, which because of his personality, is obviously very pleasing to him. At one point it is noted that “He had added the impossible to his possessions—Dominique Francon” (Rand, The Fountainhead 436). The fact that Keating views Dominique as no more that a mere possession to him shows his characters disinterest in developing personal relationships but rather looking good as a result of those relationships to the public. Dominique, on the other hand, chooses to marry Keating to punish herself. She is in love with Roark and cannot stand to live in a world that does not understand him (“Sparknote on Ayn Rand’s The Fountainhead”) Dominique knows she would never love a man like Keating. The marriage between the two characters is essentially a sham, and they both know it. This is why it comes as no surprise when Keating sells Dominique to Gail Wynand for money and a housing contract. This event sparks the beginning of Keating’s demise. Keating realizes that Dominique actually made him happy and now he had lost her. At the same time he had also lost the “friend” he had in Toohey, and because Keating used the praise and approval of others to gain internal strength, now that he was deprived of others, he had no strength because of his inability to rely on himself. (“Sparknote on Ayn Rand’s The Fountainhead”)Another relationship that helps to drive Rand’s theme that selflessness will eventually lead to complete moral failure is the one between Keating and Katie Halsey. While Katie unconditionally loves Keating, her personality is just as weak and selfless as his is, and this leads to their relationship’s eventual collapse. In one scene, Katie expresses her deep fear of her uncle, Toohey, and asks Keating to marry her. Keating initially agrees, but after his mother calls Katie a “nobody” and tells him to “‘stop thinking about [himself] for a moment and think of others a bit!’”(Rand, The Fountainhead 152). He promptly puts off the wedding. The scene ends with Keating feeling a “dull persistent feeling that told him he had missed a chance that would never return; that something was closing in on them and they had surrendered”(Rand, The Fountainhead 155), and Katie feeling “empty and cold”(Rand, The Fountainhead 155). Towards the end of the novel, Keating runs into Katie on the street. The two have lunch and Keating realizes that Katie has turned into a completely selfless individual and that the spirit he used to know in her was now dead. This meeting makes Keating even more self aware of his own life and realizes that he has nothing meaningful in it. At this point in the novel though, Keating’s realization has come too late as his character has long been on the path to his demise, and the damage he had cause himself was irrevocable.By examining the way Roark and Keating view other people, and by following the relationships they establish with others, readers are able to notice how although Roark befriends those who are similar to himself, he does not live for them, but through his selfish acts he actually serves as a beneficiary in the lives of his friends as well. These friendships hold true to Rand’s theme; Roark does not compromise himself for others, and in turn he grows morally, as do the people he interacts with. Keating’s relationships with others on the other hand, help to lead to his character’s moral failure. Because he places others in such a high regard, without them, a “second-hander” like Keating is rendered useless and empty, unable to gain strength from him. Because Keating only lived for others, it was only natural that without others to support him, his character had to fail as well.Throughout the course of The Fountainhead, Ayn Rand juxtaposes the careers and relationships of two opposite characters in order to develop her theme that in order to have moral achievement in a society full of corruption, one must perform selfish acts and never compromise his ideals. By following the architectural career of Howard Roark and analyzing the relationships he develops with others; his refusal to compromise to even the slightest degree drives him to complete moral achievement by the novel’s conclusion. Though altruism still thrives, Roark truly triumphs because of his ability to remain unchanged when faced with the opposition of society and because he is able to inspire those he comes in contact with. While Roark’s moral achievement is gained by following Rand’s “recipe” for success, Robert Keating, miserably fails at achieving anything at all. Because he personifies Rand’s antithesis, his concern for others above himself leads to his architectural career being a complete fraud, and he destroys every relationships that he establishes. Through the use of these characters, Rand staunchly delivers her theme that would allow all to combat society’s damaging effects on the ego. As Rand ends her novel with the line “Then there was only the ocean and the sky and the figure of Howard Roark”(Rand, The Fountainhead 727), she is sending a message to readers that it is the human spirit alone that matters, and by maintaining one’s integrity, one can truly experience complete moral successWorks CitedBranden, Nathaniel. “Isn’t Everyone Selfish?” The Virtue of Selfishness. Rand, Ayn. New York: Signet. November, 1964“The Fountainhead.” Novels for Students, Volume 16. Farming Hills: Gale, 2002Philips, Brian. Sparknote on Ayn Rand’s The Fountainhead. April 9, 2007 .Rand, Ayn. Introduction. The Fountainhead. By Ayn Rand. New York: Signet, 1964. i- xxi.Rand, Ayn. The Fountainhead. New York: Penguin Group, November, 1994.Schein, Dina. “Roark’s Integrity.” Essays on Ayn Rand’s “The Fountainhead.” Ed. Robert Mayhew. Lanham, 2007.

Read more
Leave a comment
Order Creative Sample Now
Choose type of discipline
Choose academic level
  • High school
  • College
  • University
  • Masters
  • PhD
Deadline

Page count
1 pages
$ 10

Price