The Meaning of The Fountainhead Through Quotes Literature is often a key factor in understanding the meanings of certain philosophies. If philosophy were not explained to great extent in certain works of literature, man would have no means of understanding the crucial, insightful messages behind philosophy. One such philosophy, objectivism, is represented exceptionally in Ayn Rand's novel, The Fountainhead. The compelling dialogue between the characters of the book allows one to uncover Ayn Rand's own feelings towards objectivism. The connotations and the implications of several of the quotes within The Fountainhead accurately depict the essence of objectivism, as a way to live one's life properly. They also encourage the opposition of convention through the telling of events that the novels main character, Howard Roark, goes through.
Howard Roark is a man who blazes his own path and listens only to himself. He feels success comes to those who achieve complete and utter independence from the world's traditional principles. Howard also cares nothing of other's opinions of himself. When he is expelled from school, he is not angry or sad; he simply feels he needs to discover a new way to venture into the career of architecture. He does not allow expulsion to ruin his hope of being an architect. Peter Keating, on the other hand, is a man with little independent thought.
He was the top student of his class and was recognized by many professors as an outstanding student. However he has serious self esteem issues. In fact, Peter decided to go into architecture not because he has a passion for it but because it would gain him a socially respectable position. Keating believes that only by following set guidelines will he get ahead in life. In one dialogue, between the two characters, Keating is asking Roark for advice on what he should do with his life.
Keating asks, "How do you always manage to decide?" Roark answers his colleague with a question of his own. "How can you let others decide for you?" Keating asks his question because he cannot comprehend how Howard can live his life not caring what others think of it, where as, Roark sees it as inconceivable that Peter could have such little self-assurance when it came to making his own decisions. In this regard, Roark is a better man that Keating. It also shows how Roark displays objectivism.
Roark is unwilling to succumb to the norms values of society and he is able to think and reason for himself. In another section of the novel, Katie (a minor character), is involved in a conversation with Howard's enemy and her uncle, Ellsworth Toohey, on the subject of egotism. Egotism is defined as an exaggerated sense of self-importance. Being independent or a conformist, characteristics very pertinent to this novel, every one is affected by his or her own ego. Toohey says, "If your first concern is for what you are or think or feel or haven't got-you " re still a common egotist." To this Katie asks, "You mean I must want to be unhappy?" Toohey responds, "No. You must stop wanting anything." Toohey, though inherently evil, is a humanitarian; his life is focused on those of others and can only make himself feel better by abusing the lives of others.
His comments show his belief that when people think first for themselves, they are an egotist. Toohey is bent on gaining power and destroying others. Toohey is worse than Keating in that Keating is satisfied with improving his standing in life and does not need to crush others in his path. A true independent person has no need of Toohey and will not listen to him; therefore, Howard is the target of much of Toohey's frustration and hate.
For this Toohey spends much of the novel trying to ruin Roark's career. It is ironic then when Toohey advises his niece to not care for feelings or possessions because this advice leads someone to become somewhat of a Howard Roark and in turn follow the basis of objectivism. Dominique Franc on is Howard's love interest in the novel. Her main views focus around idealism, which can be related to objectivism in that both philosophies focus on the proper living of life. In a conversation with Roark, Dominique says, "Roark, I can accept anything, except what seems to be the easiest for most people: the half-way, the almost, the just-about, the in-between." Dominique is unable to accept mediocrity form her and others. Dominique perceives people as lazy which is unacceptable.
Peter Keating is lazy; he refuses to broaden his architectural horizon relying instead, on duplicating the same basic design with little actual variation. He will never be great because of this and the fact that he is lazy will continue to keep him down. Howard Roark, because of his avant-garde approach to architecture, is acceptable to Dominique and is the reason she is drawn to him romantically. Dominique also believes that the world is a terrible place and cannot bear to see greatness exist in it. When she sees something beautiful or remarkable she brings it upon herself to destroy it because a place as awful as the world is not deserving of greatness.
This quote and its connotation further strengthen the idea of objectivism. If people would live their lives like Howard Roark, who embodies objectivism, they would succeed. Dominique realizes that Howard can succeed because of his beliefs and that Toohey and the others will fail. During an exchange between Howard Roark and Peter Keating, Roark tries to explain to Keating the way of life that he leads. Roark asks Keating, "To sell your soul is the easiest thing in the world. That's what everybody else does every hour of his life.
If I asked you to keep your soul -would your understand why that's so much harder?" This quote again shows the differences between these two main characters. Roark exhibits extreme, almost fanatical, selfishness. He keeps himself happy and that is all that matters. Peter Keating is the exact opposite; he is an extreme example of the self-less individual.
Keating is willing to give up everything he owns whether its his ideas for great buildings or individual possessions in order to fall in line with what society has said is the right thing to do. Howard sees this and points out that what Peter is doing is selling his soul, his individuality. To Howard the whole world is doing the same thing Peter is. There is no longer any respect or reward for following one's self so every one conforms to societies one model of the human being. The soul is what makes an individual for without it people are no more than the same uniform shape with basic emotions. Howard knows that its tough to keep his soul, he has been doing it his entire life.
He is trying to make Peter understand why keeping his soul is so important. Peter is unable to make sense of Howard's words and as a result he will not be a successful as Roark. This final example of how objectivism is displayed in the novel shows how important it is to listen to oneself and reject all collectivism. These four quotes taken form Ayn Rand's The Fountainhead all help explain the novel's main message: objectivism. The philosophy is hard to understand, but by studying the meanings of the quotes, both direct and indirect, the reader can better comprehend Rand's message. The quotes also explain how Rand feels toward individuality and conformity.
With Howard Roark, she shows that she values the individual's rights and believes one must not conform to the beliefs of society.