Ayn Rand's The Fountainhead
Updated: Apr 6
Most of us live our entire lives trying to fulfil someone else's assumed desires and our actions are most of the times dictated by what society or the person next to us fancies and never is our desire the reason behind our actions. Yet we all possess authority and ego with only a few getting the opportunity to use them. These select few are embroiled in a constant struggle to outwit one another in search for authority over the general societal thought because if in control of it we are in control of the masses. The vast majorities under this authority are the ones who unknowingly exercise Altruism a philosophy wherein we act selflessly for others and in the process give away our reasoning, thought and belief.
Ayn Rand in her literary masterpiece “The Fountainhead” debuts her widely acclaimed philosophy “Objectivism” which was penned in opposition to Altruism with the book speaking against it in entirety. Objectivism supports the virtue of being selfish wherein Rand’s definition of selfish is being an individual entity which works for its happiness, doesn't borrow from societal thought and more importantly prosper by treating others as individuals, trading value for value.
Although penned in the late 1930s the novel remains so relevant even for today’s ever so modern times that it highlights how the same inadequacies in human thought existed then and continue to be present today. It acts as a moral compass for the reader, even if read today you won't feel the decades imprinted in the book. We see how Rand's perception of society and man back then continues to be true today where one man lives for another.
The plotline builds upon the struggle of one man Howard Roark against his arch-rival Peter Keating and newspaper columnist Ellsworth Toohey. Howard struggles in life due to his unwillingness to pay heed to anyone except his inner voice. This effort of his is greatly disliked by power-hungry columnist Ellsworth Toohey who is willing to go to any extent to deprive Howard of the satisfaction of being commanded by his inner voice only. The plot is backed by a whip-smart characterization and a brilliant narration which are aided by a strong wordplay.
The book gave me important teachings about life, specifically the way we should be leading it. It motivated me and forced me to reevaluate my life. The strong-willed faith of Howard Roark in Objectivism in spite of troubled waters motivated me to not forego my individual identity when weathering trouble and thus I like the book for the way initiated a new thought in my mind and forced me to think beyond when making decisions.
76 years after its release the book maintains the benchmark it had set back in the Forties. It isn’t your normal novel involving a romantic couple and a plot instead it is a book having a deep meaning and purpose. The engaging plotline doesn't let the reader be dulled by its intense message and it doesn’t fail to please the intellect hungry and the voracious reader. It changed my perspective and take on life and gave me a different thought line to ponder over.