Thoughts on Ayn Rand’s The Fountainhead

It’s been a while since my last post so I thought I’d write a book review of one of my recent reads. The Fountainhead is the first Ayn Rand novel that I’ve read, and I have a feeling it won’t be the last. First published in 1943, it was one of the novels that laid the foundations of Rand’s philosophy, Objectivism. And though it’s been years since it first came out, the ideas from the novel still apply today.


The novel is a long one, so it took me a while to finish. The story revolves around Howard Roark, the idealistic architect who is determined to stick to his own standards of art, no matter the cost. His complete opposite is Peter Keating, an architect who is more than eager to follow other people’s wishes for his own benefit. Through other cast of characters like Dominique Francon, daughter of a famous architect; Ellsworth Toohey, a prominent critic; and Gail Wynard, a newspaper tycoon; the novel depicts a society where corruption is the norm and where one’s success is dependent on other people.


This is where Roark stands out. While reading the novel, I was dumbfounded as to why he would refuse to adjust his designs for a client and would rather starve than make changes in his sketch. Isn’t more practical to abide to a client’s wishes and be paid handsomely? It is a job, after all. But for Roark, it is not just a job. His art represents him as an individual. He believes that in letting other people control your art, you are essentially letting others take control of you. Eventually, your identity would be lost and you would only be a copy of an idea created by others.


This idea in particular stuck with me. Trying to produce good writing is hard enough, but what more to produce writing that everyone else thinks is good. And being a creative writer in our country isn’t exactly the most profitable job. You would be constantly faced with the choice of following the norm and have the chance for your work to become a bestseller, or standing by your own ideals and producing work that for you is good, never mind the meager profits.


Admittedly, I have a tendency to follow what other people say I should do, especially those with authority. Partly because I want to please other people and partly because I perceive them to know better. I’ve come to realize now that in creating something (whether it is music, art, or writing), no one would know better than yourself. Anyone can say that you must do this, you must change this and that. But as long as you have a good grasp of who you are, whatever you create is clear to you and nobody can change that.


4 thoughts on “Thoughts on Ayn Rand’s The Fountainhead

  1. Rand said solving problems is the easiest thing in the world; all one has to do is think. Not what to think, that’s religion and politics, but how to think, which is epistemology.


  2. Wonderful post, Karen. The Fountainhead is my favorite book. Like you, I was frustrated by some of the character elements at first. Why won’t Roark simply make the changes the client wants? Why must Dominique insist on destroying him? The frustration wasn’t toward the characters; it was toward myself: I knew I had the answers, but the book was so new to my thinking that it took me a while to sift through the layers and understand it. Of course, I was 16 at the time, so that adds to it. I’ve read the book three times since then and it becomes clearer every time. I find it easier to apply to my life–not in a dogged “I must be like Roark” way, but in a calm “I’m right to assert myself” way. I might not always BE right, and I might have to learn some big lessons, but it’s always the right thing to BE ME. You wrote above, “no one would know better than yourself,” and in my mind, that rings along with what I’m expressing here. I like the way you put it.

    Great post. Looking forward to more. Stop by my blog some time! I’m a fellow creative writer. =)


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s