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Henry Cameron was Howard Roark’s teacher/mentor, a creative architect who felt a real love for his “creations” and put their “integrity, their function and beauty, before their economic value. In a world that, according to Ayn Rand, should treat everything as a product, part of the free enterprise system, Cameron would not prostate himself before the money powers. He lacked the social strength to stand up to those forces (Roark does stand up to them) and consequently does not receive society’s highest approval. Rand’s view of free enterprise, often oversimplified, can be seen in Cameron’s portrayal, especially when compared to such characters as John Galt in Atlas Shrugged. When Roark chooses to destroy his buildings rather than see them compromised, he is paying tribute to Cameron, and Rand is making her point that excellence is more important than mere commodity. He lives a meager existence rather than bow down to mediocrity.
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