Independence, Egoism, and Achievement in The Fountainhead Essay

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Independence, Egoism, and Achievement in The Fountainhead

Ayn Rand said that the theme of The Fountainhead is "individualism versus collectivism, not in politics, but in man's soul." I want to comment on three specific aspects of this theme, as it is embodied in Roark's character and his interactions with the other figures in the novel. Roark is a man of independence, he is an egoist, and he is a creator, a paragon of productive achievement. These three concepts—independence, egoism, and achievement—are the key to understanding the moral sense of The Fountainhead and the ways in which it differs from the conventional ethos.

Rand makes it clear from the outset that independence does not consist in
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This is what disturbs most people about Roark. His primary connection is to the world, not to other people. His convictions, his artistic judgments, his commitment to his goal, are not filtered through any awareness of what other people thought or felt. It is not rebelliousness; it is indifference. "'You know,'" says the Dean, when Roark is explaining why he does not wish to be readmitted to Stanton, "'you would sound much more convincing if you spoke as if you cared whether I agreed with you or not.' 'That's true,' said Roark. 'I don't care whether you agree with me or not.' He said it so simply that it did not sound offensive, it sounded like the statement of a fact which he noticed, puzzled, for the first time."

Keating, by contrast, is an instrument that registers every twitch and nuance in his social environment. Rand describes his chronic fear of "that mysterious entity of consciousness within others," which he spends his life trying to appease and control. ...Keating takes great relief when he notices that Guy Francon is putting on a pretense for his (Keating's) benefit. It means that Francon too is a man of the tribe, with the same predominant orientation toward the consciousness of others. When Keating first proposes to Dominique, "he spoke rapidly, easily; he was lying now, and so he was sure of himself and it was not difficult." A lie is an effort to manipulate the consciousness of others, a goal

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