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Understanding the Major Characters of The Fountainhead

Understanding the Major Characters of The Fountainhead

Robert James Bidinotto

3 Mins
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July 7, 2010

Ayn Rand’s novel The Fountainhead powerfully and credibly depicts how important moral integrity is in maintaining one’s personal independence, and in achieving success and happiness. Ayn Rand makes her case by depicting characters whose lives and choices represent the logical variations on her philosophical and psychological themes.

Readers of the novel may find the following chart useful. It summarizes the differing premises, goals, and methods of each of the story’s five major characters – and the respective consequences for each of them.

 Character  

 Premise  

 Ends

 Means

 Results

 Roark  

 Integrity leads to success & happiness  

 His work, done his way  

 Exercise uncompromising integrity  

 Success: his work done his way  

 Dominique  

 Integrity leads to destruction by the   world

 Preserving her integrity  

 Abandon worldly values, success & happiness  

 Discovers that her premise is in error.  

 Keating  

 Integrity is an obstacle to popularity  

 Popularity & social success  

 Reject integrity, seek popularity via   pandering

 Failure in his quest for popularity  

 Toohey  

 Integrity is an obstacle to power over others  

 Power over others  

 Weaken others by attacking their integrity  

 Failure in his quest for power over men of integrity  

 Wynand  

 Integrity is an obstacle to practical success  

 Values & happiness  

 Seek power over others  

 Failure of power to bring him values & happiness