The Fountainhead The Fountainhead discussion


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Best Character in Fountainhead and why?

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Scottie I like Ellsworth Toohey and of course everyone loves Roark. But Keating is pretty interesting and so is Wynaud. I got like 100 pages to go almost. Can't wait to see what happens. Mrs. Keating-Wynaud Im guessing becomes Mrs. Roark.


Beth I read it years ago, and I'm not telling.


Vince The most interesting character is the reader.


Charisse I found each character to be quite intriguing. Each character was dynamic in their own right. But, I will say I didn't get Roark until the end. I guess he symbolized a person who is not willing to compromise their integrity and in a way I can relate to that.


Lauren @ Scottie. I appreciated the character of Ellsworth Toohey but he frustrated me. His behaviour was backwards much of the time.

My favourite was admittedly Roark. One could say that he is insensitive but really he is quite perceptive. It is his selfishness and general mind frame that keeps him from sympathizing with others, which makes him sort of sensitive-insensitive. He believed so strongly in the conceptual beauty and composition of his work. He was an ascetical architect, always true to his work. His pure and unwavering commitment was romantic.


Sameer Valia Without doubt, everyone would vouch for Howard Roark. However, he is the epitome of "perfection", a place where few dare and reach. I think and believe, everyone of us is endowed with a little bit of imperfections - howmuchever hard we try to reach the perfection levels. And who better than Peter Keating be a symbol of all our imperfections. I know this is an unusual choice for me. But I have tried to dwell into his thought-process a number of times and have always come out with a bit of sympathy and benefits of doubts. Not that he chose to be the way he turns out to be and what becomes of him at the end, but the situations and choices he makes make him so. Aren't we all a bit of him in a way or other? A little imperfectionists.!!!


Projwal Shrestha Roark, judgement and integrity


message 8: by [deleted user] (last edited Apr 18, 2011 09:21PM) (new)

Dominique Francon. Her psychological profile,her intelligence, her unusual means of coping with the man's world of her time.For me, she is also the most difficult to understand. She seems more interested in observing other people's reactions and motives and yet she is very much her own person. Perhaps somewhat like Ayn Rand herself. Her rationalism versus her need for emotional and physical needs.

The rest seem to be an exaggerated character types.


Ellen This may be a dumb question...but aren't all of the main characters actually meant to be a metaphor for segments of society or the embodiment of certain traits rather than an actual individual?


message 10: by [deleted user] (new)

Having read this book in the 70's I must dredge my memory... I remember finding Ellsworth Toohey interesting as a direct opposite of our hero Howard Roark. Evil V. Good or Manipulator V. Uncompromiser. Of course I didn't like Mr. Toohey and his destructive ways, but he was a good antagonist.

I admit that as a graphic artist for many years I would think of Howard Roark when I felt strongly about a design that I didn't want to compromise on. It actually worked for me, I owe him.

Dominique was the most difficult character for me to grasp.


message 11: by Yuse (new) - rated it 5 stars

Yuse Lajiminmuhip Dominique was my favorite character. Ayn wanted to construct a perfect woman for the perfect man (Roark) and I believe she did that with Dominique.


Naitik Gala I liked toohey in the first half, especially when he was young. And ofcourse Roark, to be the perfect example of perfection. Apart from them, i felt Katie was sweet, naive and happy-go-lucky, except for the fact that she wasn't lucky at all.


message 13: by John (new) - rated it 5 stars

John I believe Ms. Rand once referred to Dominique as herself in a bad mood. Outside of Roark, she was was my favorite character. Her sense of self, her intellect, and of course her beauty make her a fascinating woman in literature.


Rebeca Absoluty Roark,,this world needs more people like him.


Tarun The most interesting character here is the reader indeed whose mind is constantly being challenged to settle for a philosophy being proved by whatever practical or impractical means possible.


Marvin Dominique is my favorite character. I think of all of them, she's actually the strongest and most human. She's not quite as rigid as the others and recognizes to some extent that there are moments when it's necessary to give a little. I like how she gains insight by observing and then acting effectively instead of blundering through wasted attempts.


Occamsbeard Hoard Roark. I love that he does things for the deontological values of them. Unfortunately in all the Ayn Randian books Her Ideology and narratives are very extreme and very over the top, like philosophic melodrama. And while I like Hoard Roark for the fact that he know the value that Taoist and zen monks know which is doing something for its intrinsic value. And because he believes that he can find values that are themselves worth I am a big believer in deontological values in the universe but where I differ from Ms Rand is that I do believe that empathy and helping people is not simply feeding weakness. It is something one must be wary of doing, or like modern psychology will distinguish, the difference between enabling a dysfunctional person versus helping a temporarily sick, or extra needy person for the purposes of helping them get better. bottom line Hoard Rork can be a good lesson to those who only do things of constructive value because of the value of some other compensation not attached the act itself. I believe in america many of our best and brightest go into jobs like Finance simply be jones that others keep up with. I am not some super hard core anti-materialisit and i am big for creating free market, but it needs to be based on a healthy desire for other values that the person brings to their choices in the workforce economy. Otherwise you have what you have seen recently people so caught up in quick easy and insanely large money that they actually screwed the economy rather than wake up and look a the damage they were doing to the american and world financial markets. But I also see that kind of thinking in all other aspects of human behavior and I think it is a poison. The one thing that Hoard Roark can teach people is to be driven by what is inside you and is your passion and passion is not a whim nor is it just something you are stubborn about, It is something you have spent a long time thinking about and obsessing about because it is just how you are a wired. I Hoard Roark as a pure Jungian/ joseph Campbell hero being committed to that which is uniquely him and by doing that he is keeping faith for what his gift is to bring to the world and living a life of integrity. But where Ayn Rand had issues and I believe emotional baggage was in differentiating being passionate and being just selfish. And undervaluing compassion and helping others. I understand why as it is exactly such overdeveloped wrong headed compassion that leads to people wanting socialism that turns into soul crushing individual disrespecting totalitarianism of sorts. I have always found it so amusing that so many artists do not make that connection and so they support people who are in essence the beginning of the end of artistic freedom if their visions are followed through. Of course many of those artists always feel that they would be exempt -- but that is still screwy as its not about some artists but all artists right to create. And far more important than financial subsidizing is the the environment where an artist can create and not worry about political repercussions. if all artists were like hoard roark they would know if they really had the calling and they would do what they had to do to make their art. And if their art had a transcendent value it will be scene. and there will be patrons. But to many want to be an artist and not have to be a bread winner or they want a chance to be deified as prophets that deserve special treatment. Really I feel that is not what being an artist is about and if you are that good and relevant you will be acknowledged. The reward should be the creation and ownership of that creation of Art but not necessarily riches or praise now. that is whole different discussion.


Occamsbeard LOL sorry I seem to be just going off these days. its coherent but a bit much and rambling but then Ayn Rand is modern Philosoph like voltaire. basically one who writes their philosophy in their fiction. I am sad that now no one has to have certain cultural pre requisites so that deeper less contentious discussions of what might be of value from one approach to society versus another. instead people rarely dig deeper without doing for the simple purpose of only supporting what they already believe. Hoard Roark was the male Protagonist and its been a while but Dominique is the female protagonist but she may have if I remember made a compromise by wanting money and power so she married the captain of industry though she was really heart matched with Hoard. but again. I always felt that Ms Rand had some serious baggage around love, compassion, and empathy. But to my mind it does not invalidate most of her main theses that are basically embodied by Hoard Roark even if to a degree he is bit extreme.


message 19: by Okie (new) - rated it 3 stars

Okie Peter Keating really stood out for me. He is the opposite of Roark. He parrots society's expectations while still envying Roark his originality and independence. He has no form or substance of his own. His envy turns to a twisted mix of hatred of and admiration for Roark.

To me, he is the embodiment of that which the song 'Peace of Mind' by Boston warns against. 'Lots of people have to make believe they're livin/can't decide who they should be' .
Sounds like Keating to me....


Mathivathan Vallatharasu Roark and Dominique,both characters compliment each other


Robert Gail Wynand is my favourite character because as he was growing up he was always told 'you don't run things around here'. But with time he began to run thing very well and 'with military precision'.


Mathivathan Vallatharasu Thinking of it,Gail Wynand is far more than roark.


message 23: by Vasundhar (new) - added it

Vasundhar Boddapati Often one might see Gail and Roark as parallels of same ideals, but when you see little deeper, you will realise the value system Ayn Built around Roark which is missing from Gail, When it comes to the stubborn ness Both Gail and Roark seem similar. When it comes to Toohay he IMHO, is a stupid idealist, Not sure if I will call him Idealist because of his actions. He is the one who almost killed peater keating by appreciating despite knowing the work is not his.


message 24: by Jenna (last edited Oct 06, 2011 03:47PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Jenna Roark was my favorite character, and to compare Gail Wynand and Howard Roark. The difference between the two was that Gail Wynand was using his emotion of hatred, and let the collectives overwhelmed him. You see Howard Roark has a purpose and doesn't let any people get on his way, and his motivated by his sense of self- worthiness.


Jenna By the way, has anybody heard of a character named Vesta Dunning, who Ayn Rand edited out of the "Fountainhead" ?


Reet78 ROARK for course.


Anees Rao Yuse wrote: "Dominique was my favorite character. Ayn wanted to construct a perfect woman for the perfect man (Roark) and I believe she did that with Dominique."

Just the person I was looking for: someone who liked Dominique Francon. Can you explain all the marriages she went through and her justification for all of them?


Andrew Her marriage to Peter was all about self-destruction. She was destroying any opportunity she had for success and/or happiness by willfully not living to her potential because she felt that the world wouldn't appreciate it, didn't deserve it, and would destroy it anyway. Her marriage to Gail I believe was a continuation of that even though Gail is different.


Masha K. Jenel wrote: "By the way, has anybody heard of a character named Vesta Dunning, who Ayn Rand edited out of the "Fountainhead" ?"

Yes, she was Roark's love interest in one of the drafts of The Fountainhead. In the early drafts, Rand spent more time on Roark's backstory, including his affair with an actress Vesta Dunning. Later she made a decision to show Roark to us from different characters' POVs instead. So we never really get inside his head and know what made him the way he is. All we get is other people reacting to him in different ways, depending on their own perspective. Which makes for an interesting novel, but also frustrating because we don't understand him enough.


Phillip Casteel The children. I love the children in all of her books. They exemplify family, caring, sacrifice, and community.
Not a very good world, or philosophy, if there isn't room for children.
But I have read four of her books. There is something interesting happening there.


Anees Rao I agree. I was waiting for the parts of the book when Roark is around! Gail Wynand and Dominique Francon, although important characters, spend just way too much time yakking about.
Masha wrote: "Jenel wrote: "By the way, has anybody heard of a character named Vesta Dunning, who Ayn Rand edited out of the "Fountainhead" ?"

Yes, she was Roark's love interest in one of the drafts of The Foun..."



Masha K. P.D. wrote: "The children. I love the children in all of her books. They exemplify family, caring, sacrifice, and community.
Not a very good world, or philosophy, if there isn't room for children.
But I hav..."


Haha very funny. that's the major flaw in Rand's world- all these smart, productive people have no interest in procreation. Idiocracy anyone?


Philip Roark is the obvious choice. He is mine as well. Reason is because he ensures the purity of his projects and gives them nothing more than they need to fulfill their goal.


Rebeca Philip wrote: "Roark is the obvious choice. He is mine as well. Reason is because he ensures the purity of his projects and gives them nothing more than they need to fulfill their goal."

like it


message 35: by Lily (new) - rated it 5 stars

Lily Keating is a very interesting character to me because of how many times he comes close to understanding and improving his own life, and then lets other people sway him away. All those chances he had to marry Katherine and make his life better in at least this aspect - he missed. It is especially tragic to see him at the end of the book when he finally realizes that he is a failure, but it is too late for him to change anything because he is not used to exercising any kind of will or striving for any kind of earned achievement. What makes Peter stand out among other characters of Ayn Rand is that they are all black and white, while he often gets a glimpse of the grey territory.


Masha K. Lily wrote: "Keating is a very interesting character to me because of how many times he comes close to understanding and improving his own life, and then lets other people sway him away. All those chances he ha..."

Keating is neither hero nor villain (although he does some pretty bad things), but more of a cautionary tale for what happens if you let others dictate what should make you happy. He gave up his passion (painting) and his love (Catherine) because he was influenced by society rather than his own principles and needs.


Pranaya Gail Wynand. He's the tragic hero of the novel, in my opinion. His aspirations were so similar to Roark's, but his spirit was crushed by the second-handers.


Gen Shikouken Roark for sure


message 39: by Sanchayan (last edited Dec 01, 2011 07:27AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Sanchayan Maity Howard Roark. He has served as my inspiration. At a time when i had become disappointed with everything because of all what was around me and lost interest in things i wanted to do, Howard's unfailing devotion to do what he loved, gave me a new life.


Suchandra Vince wrote: "The most interesting character is the reader."

lolzzz :))
I think the reader deserves applause for patience as the novel undoubtedly is a great work of fiction but it's too extensive for anyone to lose patience ... it's like you are reading about the lifetimes of so many people


Suchandra I appreciate HR's perseverance, passion, sincerity towards his vocation. At the same time, I find him very fictional and unrealistic mainly cos he is too adamant, stubborn and confident about his beliefs...I wonder how it would be if we all never adjust or compromise in life and just hold on to our perceptions....we won't be progressing anywhere.


Masha K. Actually people like Roark, who are dedicated to their vision and their profession almost to the exclusion of anything else are the ones responsible for most progress. Most "regular" people get distracted by relationships and various day to day things (or they never develop a particular talent or passion and just end up in mundane jobs). In reality the world needs both types of people. What we don't need is those who stand in the way of progress, either from jealousy or spite.


Julia Fagnilli I can't say I have a favorite character, although I loved the book. I saw the imperfections in all of them, including the "perfect" Howard Roarke. For me, it was the story, and the interactions of the characters that made the book so memorable. I saw the three characters-Howard, Dominic, and Elsworth more as a triadic played throughout the book than as individual notes...I do not think Ayn Rand would appreciate that analogy, but that's how I think of them-not individually, but all together...


Catherine Mcneill Howard Roarke, hands down is the best character in the book, even after reading it twice. We need more individuals like him who think freely and creatively and who do not just fall into what society expects.


message 45: by Dora (new) - rated it 5 stars

Dora Okeyo Howard's perfect.
Keating's a mess-and he's more of what people are.
Ellsworth was a pain and I didn't like how he thought he could turn everything around, to destroy Roark. He was babbling most of what he believed in according to me, but I'd say Howard was a good character-the kind you'd want to be but only know that no matter how hard you try the only person in the book you can get close to is Wyand and the real you is Keating.


message 46: by King (new) - rated it 5 stars

King Wenclas I found Dominique Francona the most interesting. She's the most complex-- is quite neurotic-- and changes through the story. She's also introduced with a sense of mystery-- much talked about before she makes her eventual entrance, which is also the moment the novel really takes off. More than any other character, she gives the story life.


message 47: by Patrick (last edited Mar 29, 2012 02:20AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Patrick I recall a foreman that was in Roark's employ. The description of equal respect between the foreman and Roark when the final building of the book is laying in courses of steel was a real winner for myself. There was described an honesty between people, and the perfect acceptance of each others vital role granted the foreman all the glorification that is heaped upon Roark. I feel that the equality of the two very different men in that moment opened the door of her philosophy to all people rather than cloistering it only in the hands of the exceptional. It was shown that each person fulfilling their passion regardless of surrounding opposition makes for excellence in whatever the task may be.


Masha K. That is a great point and one that gets missed in most discussions of Rand. Her philosophy was about always striving to do your best and having integrity. So if you are "just" a foreman, you can still achieve greatness in your profession and be desrving of respect. Rand get accused of elitism a lot, but fundamentally her philosophy is about the opposite, about everyone having an opportunity to excel.


Quentin The Fountainhead is a poorly written book and characters are the weakest part of it. Roark is a bizarre blend of Dr Sheldon Cooper (The Big Bang Theory) and a Marvell superhero. I couldn't take him seriously throughout the book. Toohey is an utterly uncompelling Mephistopheles (the story of him and Keating is a version of Faust). Maybe the only one who occasionally resembles a human being is Wynand. The story of him seems to be inspired in part by the Orson Welles Citizen Kane (released two years before the book).


Wessel van der Merwe Excellence in what you really want to do in life brings you to interesting choices of selfishness or altruism, throw in some romantic elements and issues of integrity and brokenness and a very one sided particular view of faith and religion and you have an interesting philosophy…Opportunities and calling in life either chosen correctly or you have missed it? Now weave it in a novel and you have “The Fountainhead” with the main character and hero HR. Obviously there are flaws and good things in the underlying philosophy…But Hr is the hero..


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