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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.
Integrity leads to success & happiness
His work, done his way
Exercise uncompromising integrity
Success: his work done his way
Integrity leads to destruction by the world
Preserving her integrity
Abandon worldly values, success & happiness
Discovers that her premise is in error.
Integrity is an obstacle to popularity
Popularity & social success
Reject integrity, seek popularity via pandering
Failure in his quest for popularity
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
Integrity is an obstacle to practical success
Values & happiness
Seek power over others
Failure of power to bring him values & happiness