CAN THO UNIVERSITY
SCHOOL OF SOCIAL SCIENCES AND HUMANITIES
AYN RAND’S OBJECTIVISM
HER TWO FICTIONAL WORKS
Supervisor: Hồ Phương Thùy, M.A.
Researcher: Nguyễn Tuấn Kiệt
Can Tho, May 2014
I hereby declare that I have worked on this thesis independently; all the cited words as
well as reference sources are listed in the Works Cited.
Ho Phuong Thuy
Nguyen Tuan Kiet
I would like to express my gratitude firstly to my friend Vo Thanh
Lien for being a great help from the very beginning of this thesis;
without her counsels, as well as reading materials I would never be
able to conceptualize the process of making a proper thesis.
I also dedicate my gratefulness to another friend of mine, Tran Thi
Nhi, who spent time sharing ideas and experience with me during
Finally, I want to thank, above all, my supervisor, Mrs. Ho Phuong
Thuy, for giving me countless advice and suggestions as well as
handling all my spontaneousness with patience and kindness. Thanks
to her devotion this thesis paper is fulfilled.
This thesis, “Ayn Ran’s Objectivism Reflected in Her Two Fictional Works” aims at
analyzing the basic doctrines of Ayn Rand’s philosophy-Objectivism in its early
development. Although Objectivism has been studying as a proper philosophy for
decades, its original theory had already been promptly presented in Ayn Rand’s
fictional works, especially the famous “The Fountainhead” (1943) and the final
“Atlas Shrugged” (1957). Regarded as the best illustrations for Objectivism, studies
of the philosophy based on these two novels would hopefully work out Ayn Rand’s
original ideas of Objectivism as well as the use of Objectivism in her fictional works.
As Objectivism is built up with four key elements and two subordinations, this study
also investigates the philosophy under the same structure. Via the protagonists of the
two novels, the three first and foremost elements, metaphysics, epistemology and
ethics, accompanied by the minor human nature will delineate the portrait of a typical
Objectivist. On the other hand, politics, reflected through the motives used in the
fictions, will enclose Objectivism with its importance to the world. Finally, esthetics
will support Ayn Rand’s theory of a “rational mind” through the typical symbols in
both “The Fountainhead” and “Atlas Shrugged”.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Part One: INTRODUCTION ....................................................................................... 1
Part Two: OBJECTIVSM AS ILLUSTRATED IN THE FOUNTAINHEAD AND
ATLAS SHRUGGED ..................................................................................... . 8
Chapter 1: Metaphysics, Epistemology and Ethics through the protagonists
of The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged .................................. 13
Chapter 2: Politics through motives used in The Fountainhead and Atlas
Shrugged ..................................................................................... 38
Chapter 3: Esthetics through symbols found in The Fountainhead and Atlas
Shrugged ..................................................................................... 52
Part Three: CONCLUSION ....................................................................................... 65
Works Cited ................................................................................................................ 69
This literature study orbits around three most fundamental subjects in Ayn Rand’s
writing career, namely The Fountainhead, Atlas Shrugged and Objectivism in order
to examine how the author’s philosophy was concreted in her fictional works.
Perhaps to many readers in Vietnam, Ayn Rand and the phenomenal novel The
Fountainhead, which had been published under the translated title Suối Nguồn, are
fascinatingly familiar; however, hardly had readers been aware about the existence
of the sequel novel Atlas Shrugged and the philosophy Objectivism, which are
closely related to the former one. As a matter of fact, I feel an urge to carry out this
study in order to analyze how Objectivism was adapted to the novels, clarify Ayn
Rand’s ideas in the two stories and suggest further studying about the world
famous author and her fictions, as well.
With the glorious success of her fiction The Fountainhead (published in 1943),
Ayn Rand, alongside working on other novels, pushed herself on writing another
story, a successor to The Fountainhead, to which she once called its predecessor
“only an overture”, titled Atlas Shrugged (1957), whose publication struck
massive attention among readers and later brought its author such a worldwide
reputation that she once claimed in her journal that it was her “magnum opus”, a
great work or masterpiece. The book gained an enduring controversial recognition,
not for its plot or length or for it was the last fiction work of Ayn Rand but for the
philosophy system that she developed (and later) named Objectivism. The tenet
earlier was conceivably demonstrated in The Fountainhead, yet it was not until
Atlas Shrugged that ideology was fully illustrated.
Theoretically, Randian Objectivism reckons that reality exists objectively to the
human mind and can only be discovered by direct contact with human knowledge
through one’s perception, which means that man must discover reality through his
own mind (not from the others’) and pursues his own way of living. An Objectivist
makes his mind objective form trendy public opinions and accesses to the world by
his own logic and comprehension. He chooses to live objectively from others’ lives
and in return, does not ask one to live his.
To the afterword of “Atlas Shrugged” (1957) Ayn Rand first time concreted the
philosophy which she claimed to be, in essence, “the concept of man as a heroic
being, with his own happiness as the moral purpose of his life, with productive
achievement as his noblest activity, and reason as his only absolute.” (1170-71).
The concept originated back to Ayn Rand’s early school years’ experience on
philosophy of Aristotle, Kant and Nietzsche justifying “Objectivity”. In fact,
theories of so-called “Objectivity” dated back to the very early days of man’s
history, which was proven by William Lawhead in his book The Philosophical
Journey. Lawhead indicated that Platonism and Aristotelianism advocate that
reality exist not within but parallel with man’s knowledge; that truths come to
those who live wholeheartedly to one’s own nature. Likewise, Kant believed that
there is only one way to attain knowledge, to which Nietzsche, reckoning that there
is no fact, only interpretations [of fact], contradicted that knowledge is perceived
subjectively through one’s perspective. Nietzsche’s philosophy refuses Aristotle’s
“A is A” theory and supposed that everything is nothing without perspective.
However, Nietzsche’s idea of “Übermensch” or “Superman” is somehow the same
with that of Ayn Rand’s, to which the statue of so-called “Overhuman” depicts an
ideal man who lives by virtue of his existence on earth beyond good and evil, an
“egoist” like Ayn Rand described. In other words, Randian Objectivism is
delicately blended conjugation of selective premises whose combination depicts so
much a larger prospect that the founder herself asserted it as “a philosophy for
living on earth.”
It goes without saying that Objectivism of Ayn Rand did not come out to public
originally. To David King’s theory, before Ayn Rand, Albert Einstein, implying
that man’s knowledge is absolutely limited just by orbiting around assumptions,
experience and what have already been discovered, once declared that "Out yonder
there is this huge world, which exists independently of us human beings and which
stands before us like a great, eternal riddle, at least partially accessible to our
inspection and thinking." (par. 7) However, such belief existed restrictively only in
fields of science like Physic, Chemistry and Cosmology, and it was not until
Rand’s attempt that the doctrine was demonstrated in term of philosophy. Since
then, Objectivism was preached widely in many other aspects such as psychology,
ethics and politics.
To Nathaniel Barden’s theory, Objectivism implies that “reality is what it is, that
things are what they are, independent of anyone's beliefs, feelings, judgments or
opinions - that existence exists, that A is A” (par. 14). According to this point, the
only way to access to nature or reality is through its own characters, not by that
assumed by anyone’s. The interaction between man and nature can be diverse, yet
only interaction that operates objectively will last; as precisely as a mathematical
calculation or a chemical reaction.
Likewise, David King simplified Objectivism’s fundament by indicating its
differences to that of Subjectivism. He asserted that while Subjectivism claims that
existence is created by consciousness, Objectivism believes that there is indeed a
real world that has its own existence, independent of any perceiving consciousness.
A Subjectivist would take the world as an element of his whole life and an
Objectivist would discover his life through his existence on earth. In other words,
Objectivism believes that there is only one reality and Subjectivism asserts the
opposite that reality is the product of one’s mind working, that things themselves
possess no character until people define it.
It can be inferred that Objectivism is a fundamental element of self-discovery,
which changes one’s perception about reality, from human-centered to naturecentered. Ethically, Objectivism encourages one to discover his meaning of living
on earth by himself, supposing that only his direct contact with the world would
make him realize his goal in life and, as a result, pursuits it. Such a man is the ideal
“heroic being” that Ayn Rand wanted to refer to. Although apparently, there is
nothing heroic about life discovering, Randian Objectivism claims that living truly
to one’s own heart, pursuing one’s own happiness is the moral purpose of one’s
life, without which there would not be the term “living”.
The reception on Objectivism is controversial. Nevertheless, it goes without saying
that Rand’s phenomenal philosophy has long been talked about and studied until
today as a part of world’s philosophic system. Studies of this Objectivism still have
been carrying out until today by Rand’s students and by Ayn Rand Institute (ARI).
Such reputation makes the study of its very first original virtues, the one that was
illustrated in The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged, was highly regarded;
especially when only in these works was Objectivism found being presented in
form of fiction.
As a reader of Ayn Rand, I found it important to learn how Objectivism has been
illustrated in her novels since it is the mere way to understand the duo correctly, in
accordance with the author’s original ideas. In addition, readers who are fond of
Ayn Rand’s fictions, by analyzing Objectivism, may be able to see all the pros and
cons initiated from the novels in order that controversies about her fictions would
be objectively worked out As a matter of fact, instead of studying Objectivism
solely as a realistic philosophy, which is unearthly incomprehensible, I reckon that
it would really make sense using it to literally analyze the ideas found in the
mentioned novels since doing so means not only discovering the relationship
between Objectivism and Ayn Rand’s fictions but also finding a reasonable
assessment to such philosophy.
I have chosen The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged for this study because they
are perfect illustrations for Randian Objectivism. According to the author, it was
not Objectivism that the theme of The Fountainhead bore. In fact, Barden agreed
that hardly did readers who had known about Objectivism recognize it in the story.
It is a story of Howard Roark, an ungraduated yet talented architect, a man of
Idealism whose life and career were cruelly turned down by the society for his
“alien” designs regardless of their brilliant and rational structures and also for his
unacceptably abnormal manners, which are headstrong, unnegotiable and simply
indifferent, who fought his own way of doing things he loved and lived by his
standards no matter how badly people criticized him for not doing these the same
way as they were doing.
Ayn Rand, on gathering ideas for writing Atlas Shrugged, stated in her journal that
The Fountainhead was about “individualism and collectivism within man’s soul”
and “it showed the nature and function of the creator and the second-hander” (x).
However, it was by the battle between Collectivists and Individualists in the story
and by “fountainhead-ed” Howard Roark’s unique rule in designing: ‘originality’
that the foundation of Atlas Shrugged and Objectivism was developed. In other
word, The Fountainhead was, in one way or another, a premise to Objectivism.
No sooner had Atlas Shrugged come to publication than Objectivism was officially
presented. Atlas Shrugged was Rand’s final and most famous novel. The writing
process, to Peikoff’s theory, dated since the publication of The Fountainhead “in
form of essays and journals” (ix). Developed from its predecessor, The Strike
(early name of Atlas Shrugged) posed a question about the role of people like
Howard Roark in the society, also known as the “prime movers”, in the society or,
in other word, how the world desperately needed them.
Peikoff, speaking of Objectivism, stated that man must learn by himself, not by
force, physically or mentally. Comparing to the plot of Atlas Shrugged, Dagny
Taggart, the protagonist, was supposed to work within and by her own
consciousness, not that of her lover John Galt or any others, even though she had
been warned about the future of her company. She was informed what would
happen, she sensed and knew it would happen but she had to understand what was
wrong with it before giving up everything. This is the basis of Objectivism.
Although it does not proactively encourage one to cling on the collapsing world
stubbornly like Dagny did. Through the utopia society illustrated in Atlas
Shrugged, the tenet Objectivism was first presented in its truest form and later
motivated further studies on it that lasted until today. The theme of the novel was
designed in a larger scale in comparison with The Fountainhead, with more
mysterious and impossible factors which made its outstanding recognition.
Although according to ARI’s resource, Atlas Shrugged, unlike The Fountainhead,
basically received negative reviews for the society presented in the story was
utopian, it goes without saying that without Atlas Shrugged Objectivism would
never be publicly established and those who adored The Fountainhead may never
fully understand what the writer really implied in it. Should there be anything to
compare to Objectivism in this situation, it would be a floating ice-berg, to which
the smaller above water surface section represents The Fountainhead and the
bigger one below represents Atlas Shrugged. As a result, one may not call himself
understand The Fountainhead without reading Atlas Shrugged even though they
were written independently from each other. In her own words, Ayn Rand stated
“To all the readers who discover The Fountainhead and asked me many
questions about the wider application of its ideas, I want to say that I am
answering these questions in the present novel, and that The Fountainhead
was only an overture to Atlas Shrugged.” (1171)
However, without reading The Fountainhead, one may likely to find Atlas
Shrugged unfamiliarly ridiculous and over-imaginary. Probably, Ayn Rand wrote
Atlas Shrugged because of reasons; she wanted to show in the story, firstly, as
mentioned above, the importance of people like Howard Roark to the society,
which was not included in The Fountainhead; secondly, the relationship between
the prime mover and the characters around him by virtue of leadership and finally
the prospect when the prime mover went on strike. It can be inferred that John Galt
in Atlas Shrugged was Howard Roark that struggled against society’s bullying.
Both were the victims of collectivization, yet unlike Roark who kept his mind
inviolable from second-handers no matter how cruelly he was treated, John Galt
denounced them and wanted the world to see the loathsome truth about living as a
second-hander. As a result, reading Atlas Shrugged in the first place, readers would
not understand the motivation of John Galt going on strike, as well as the
importance of the striking plan, which makes reading process of this thousand-page
Therefore, the assessment through Objectivism and The Fountainhead and Atlas
Shrugged must be linked together; this triangular should never be broken whenever
studies about Ayn Rand’s philosophy were carried out. By analyzing how
Objectivism was illustrated in The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged, one would
be able to assess to higher threshold of Objectivism and further study about Ayn
OBJECTIVISM AS ILLUSTRATED IN
THE FOUNTAINHEAD AND ATLAS SHRUGGED
To Ayn Rand’s description, there are four pillars that hold up Objectivism. The
first one is metaphysics, also known as objective reality; the second one,
epistemology, deals with the procedure of reasoning of man’s mind; the third one,
ethics, is the system of the values determining choices and behaviors of human;
and the last one, politics, emphasizes the role of government or authority due to the
essence of ethics. There are also two other subordinate principles called human
nature and esthetics coming up with, respectively, matters of one’s mind’s
rationality and art.
Metaphysics simply refers to nature or reality or, generally, things that are
unquestionably given. By “reality”, Objectivism indicates things that exist
independently to man’s consciousness and are not being touched or judged or
interfered by the will of human being; in other words, “A is A”. For example, the
moon, a mountain or any race of animal exist as naturally as human being, without
which things are still themselves as ever.
Ayn Rand’s concept of “reality” obviously contradicts to that of Nietzsche’s,
whom claimed that reality (or fact) does not exist but human’s epistemology does.
To his theory, a book can only be a book to human, not to a cat or a tree; even
amongst human kind, a book could also be regarded differently due to one’s mind
perception. Meanwhile to Randian doctrine, “existence exists” no matter how
people consider it to be.
If things happen to exist due to man’s will (man-made things), they must
unavoidably be observed and understood (as themselves) before being laid hand by
human. For instance, human must have learnt that rocks are hard (quality) before
turning them into spears (purpose). To this point, Objectivism confirms that things
mean to be understood, not to be judged. Moreover, Objectivism, like Atheism,
also refuses to believe such things called supernatural or mystic, which are claimed
to be undoubtedly assigned with man’s will. As a result, in order to access
Objectivism, one must firstly regard things as they are, which, according to
objectivists, it is the very first “principle to survive on earth” (Ozpek 18)
Epistemology, to Ozpek’s description, is a “methodology of attaining knowledge”
transforming from the given metaphysics (18). In Ayn Rand’s words, it is
interpreted as the matter of “reasoning” (Rand 709). According to her theory, the
reason “is the ability taking, defining and integrating the materials which are
perceived by the human senses. By that, the reason improves its knowledge level
from perceptional level that animals also have to conceptual level that peculiar to
him by integrating the perceived material to abstracts and concepts” (Rand 102).
It can be translated that knowledge can only be attained thanks to the process of
man’s mind deriving facts from metaphysics; also known as epistemology.
Metaphorically, epistemology is a “connector” between reality and knowledge,
without which one is unable to take the meaning of the world he is living in into
actual righteous concepts, or “knowledge”.
For instance, to conclude that coral are a type of animal, human had to observe,
analyze and subscribe their living structures, organs and habit, then compared them
to that of both animal and plant to draw the final conclusion that corals’ living
organization is the same with that of animal despite their plant-like appearances. It
can be inferred from this case that to learn the truth, you have to make discoveries,
not assumptions and never let appearance fools you; that is how epistemology
Human nature is not one of the prominent factors, yet its coming after the second
factor is somehow necessary in the whole progress of Objectivism since it reflects
the next stage of epistemology before reasoning ethics. Human nature reckons that
man is a rational being; and that “reason, as man’s only means of knowledge is his
basic means of survival” (Rand 710). Since human is supposed to be rational, there
must be unavoidably a certain aim or goal or at least, an answer to every action
someone takes. Generally, this element comes up with the necessity of
epistemology, reasoning that man, sooner or later, will inevitably find himself
wondering the reasonability of every action he takes.
Ethics literally means the set of values leading choices and behaviors. Likewise,
Ayn Rand defined ethics as “a system by what human kind can decide what is right
and what is wrong; what is good and what is bad” (100). However, to her standard
of so-called ethics, Ayn Rand reasoned that “man- every man- is an end in himself,
not to the ends of other’s; he must live for his own sake, neither sacrificing himself
to others nor sacrificing others to himself; he must work for his rational selfinterest, with the achievement of his own happiness as the highest moral purpose of
his life” (710-11). Apparently, her doctrine on ethics is believed to be extremely
pragmatic, selfish and against human will. Ayn Rand, in her entry The Objectivist
Ethics clarified that to every man living in the world, before he was given a moral
code, there must be a proper survival code came before that. If common morality
denounces living for one’s sake as being selfish, the morality within one’s self
thinks the opposite since it is human nature to live for one’s own life. Moreover,
living individually is also grounded with the condition of not sacrificing one’s self
to others, in both ways. Had one decided to sacrifice his life to somebody, it would
have been his own choice and will to do so, nobody had the right to demand or
encourage such thing. As a result, Objectivism’s ethics is the ethics within one’s
soul or that of egoism. Figuratively, it is a stage in which the compromising
between epistemology and civilization takes place.
The final factor, politics, specifies the laissez-faire capitalism, the situation in
which the intervention of government to the economic transactions is eliminated as
much as it could be. By “laissez-faire capitalism”, Ayn Rand emphasized the
noninterference and privacy respect of authority to other people; that individual
rights should be protected and encouraged, not to be turned down. This doctrine
was specifically illustrated throughout the novel Atlas Shrugged, according to
which, it can be inferred that such policies like nationalization or wealth
redistribution means infringement and deprivation on individual rights. To Ayn
Rand’s point, capitalism is “a system based on the recognition of individual rights,
including property rights, in which the only function of the government is to protect
individual rights, i.e., to protect men from those who initiate the use of physical
She was also strictly against the “force”, both physically and mentally. She
reasoned that “a rational brain does not work under the pressure, cannot moderate
his conception of reality to the order of anyone else” (Ozpek 20) and that “men
must deal with one another as traders, giving value for value, by free, mutual
consent to mutual benefit” (Rand 711) since it is the only way they can gain best
benefit from each other.
Hence, politics is all about freedom. Objectivism claims that man can only do his
best under no restriction and once his mind’s desire becomes unrestricted, he is
capable of absorbing the metaphysics and thus, turns it into common knowledge.
The second subordinate factor, esthetics, literally refers to the value of beauty. In
Ayn rand’s fictions, esthetics is reflected through the concept of art, which,
according to her standard, is the “creation of reality in accordance with the artist’s
metaphysical value judgments” (Rand 711).
Leonard Peikoff stated that Ayn Rand’s Objectivism can be summarized on three
axioms namely existence, consciousness and identity, in which man’s mind,
interacting with nature, works out a system of reality, as well as the meaning of his
existence on earth and a self-discovery to which he see himself as the one and only
individual, not a clone or a reflection of the world.
Based on the brief summary of Objectivism above, I divided this study into three
chapters. Chapter one came up with the most basic ideas of Objectivism and the
protagonists. Ayn Rand wrote that Howard Roark was the theme of The
Fountainhead, as much as The Fountainhead was all about Howard Roark. Truly,
almost every elements of Objectivism were reflected through this character. By
analyzing the hero of The Fountainhead, half of Ayn Rand’s philosophy would be
worked out. However, important as Howard Roark was, he did not finish the ideas
which Ayn Rand opened on him. That is the reason why John Galt of Atlas
Shrugged was created. If Howard Roark’s was the image of a man who lived for
himself, John Galt’s was that man who was put in the relationship with other
people. Besides, a comparison between Dominique Francon and Dagny Taggart
was also included in this chapter so that the ethics of an Objectivist would be made
livelier with the matter of love and selfish.
Chapter two concentrated on the fifth element (also known as the forth main
element): politics via the common motives used in the two novels. Through “The
goods, the bads and the idiots” and “The evil mighty government”, the ideal form
of politics according to Ayn Rand’s theory would be clarified.
Finally, chapter three discussed about symbols of esthetics, also known as the
perspective of Objectivists via their concept of beauty and art. The symbols,
besides being in charge of revealing the internal world of the Objectivists, would
be put under the perception of other characters in order to enhance the contrast
between the mind of an Objectivist and a non-Objectivist. With four symbols found
in two novels, the power of creativeness would also be emphasized.
Chapter 1: Metaphysics, epistemology and ethics through the
The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged
To every novel, characters, especially main characters, are those who speak out the
authors’ mind and represent their points of view the most. Thinking the same way,
Forster stated in his book Aspects of Novel that characters are word-masses whom
the novelist gives names, genders, gestures and are made to speak his/her words.
Hence, Ayn Rand and her novels are not exception to this hypothesis.
In fact, characters in Ayn Rand novels are the best illustration for her
theory/philosophy. According to Leonard Peikoff, Ayn Rand took care of the
characters the second most carefully only after the theme of her fiction works. To
every important character, Ayn Rand used to write a detailed description on
him/her, including physical appearance and even his/her particular interests. As a
matter of fact, it can be seen that in Ayn Rand novels, characters plays an utmost
important role in conveying her ideas to readers, especially when her novels are
There are not many characters in The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged, those who
are capable of expressing her ideas is even fewer. Her characters could be
categorized into three groups, the Objectivists, the anti-Objectivists and the almostObjectivists. The first group includes the heroes and heroines, which will be
discussed below. The other groups consist of Ellsworth Toohey, Gail Wynand, Dr.
Robert Staddler and most people from John Galt’s gang. Ellsworth Toohey played
an important role in The Fountainhead; he knew all about Objectivism but decided
to prevent it from spreading to other people so that he could easily control them
since the desire to live for one’s sake had been extinguished. However, when put
on scale of Objectivism, this man did not reflect clearly any of Ayn Rand’s ideas
and clearly, it was not he the author wanted to emphasize the role of Objectivism.
Likewise, the almost-Objectivists, including Gail Wynand and Dr. Robert Stadler,
could be regarded as the simplified versions of John Galt. They could reason for
their individual rights but could not go any further than that; as a result, they need
someone to guide them to the right way. They were new-born Objectivists and they
needed time to write their own stories as well as philosophy.
Meanwhile, back to The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged, Objectivism was
reflected in the protagonists, including the four characters of two stories. With Ayn
Rand’s theory of Objectivism, I could see each element reflected in each character
as clear as A is A.
Howard Roark- the new Adam
Amongst every ultimate element that concretes Objectivism, Howard Roark
himself is the one that started it all. From the very beginning chapters of The
Fountainhead Roark was presented as a born Objectivist, the most typical portrait
to suit neatly Ayn Rand’s drafting of the “superhero”. He caught a great deal of
attention for being an Objectivist, a perfect demonstration of what an Objectivist
should be; yet it was “the man of his truest self”, or it was his nature that Howard
Roark was most remembered for. Not only did he, standing out from other
characters of the story, make his own existence worthwhile but also declare man’s
right to live purely by one’s own nature regardless of the pressures from society.
Straightforwardly, as Mary Boulanger wrote, Howard Roark is a whole new Adam.
The concept of new Adam, also known as American Adam had long existed in the
culture of the New World. In The American Adam: Innocence, Tragedy and
Tradition in the Nineteenth Century Richard Lewis, based on local history, came
up with the idea of a new type of man of the new America that
“…emancipated from history, happily bereft of ancestry, untouched and
undefiled by the usual inheritances of family and race; an individual
standing alone, self-reliance and self-propelling, ready to confront
whatever awaited him with the aid of his own unique and inherent
Such a man represents the American ideal dream hero, independent, free-thinking
and absolutely picturesque. In one way or the other, Ayn Rand’s Howard Roark
was this kind of man, “self-sufficient, self-confident” and “be himself at any cost”
First of all, it is stated in the story that Roark’s identity was a mystical blur. Neither
his family nor any close relation was ever mentioned; an orphan he was
conjectured to be. Roark came out of nowhere; had no friends or a love of his life,
his one and only loose friendship with Peter Keating, whose house he rented for
college, did not made them be in the same league. One neither had ever learnt
about his past nor cared for his story. The room in which he lived was stuffed with
only his clothes and drawings, “few” for one and “too may” for the other,
respectively…that to Peter Keating’s mother’s thought, it was “the drawings lived
there, not the man” (18). Had he happened to disappear one day, no one would
have noticed his absence or even spared a thought of him. Ayn Rand’s creation of
Howard Roark was somehow influenced by her adoration to America, where
people speak about the future, not the past. Metaphorically, Howard Roark was the
American Adam who had no relation with other human being, lived in the
“paradise” America and evidently, bared no sins from the alluring society. Instead
of attaching to her protagonist a certain family background, Ayn Rand just made
him pop up suddenly, baring no ties to the world.
Roark appeared from the very first scene of The Fountainhead when he was caught
naked on the edge of a cliff, standing alone and laughing. Bathing his body in the
wind, Roark stared at the granite below his feet, the trees and the iron ore
underground, imagining how those things would one day altogether turned into
buildings. In that scene, Roark was the only human being existed; surround him
was the nature; his thoughts was about nature while his body leaning resting like a
part of nature. Likely at that time, Roark and nature were merging together into one
unity. He was taking (with epistemology) the world (metaphysics) into himself.
Roark was thinking about the manufacturing of the elements around him: trees to
be cut off, stone to be grinded and houses to be built from that trees and stones. It
could be interpreted that his thought spoke out the first rule of metaphysics:
“Nature, to be commanded, must be obeyed” (709). Just like that, Howard Roark