The Fountainhead

by Ayn Rand

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Who is the Dean in the larger context of The Fountainhead?

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The Dean of the Stanton Institute of Technology, where Roark studied architecture, is forced to expel him after he deliberately turns in a modern-style plan instead of a Renaissance plan. In their subsequent discussion, it becomes obvious that Roark only came to learn about past use of material and design, and once he has decided that he will only work with his own plans, he has no reason to stay. The Dean cannot understand him until the end of the conversation:

[The Dean said,] "You don't care what others think -- which might be understandable. But you don't care even to make them think as you do?"


"But that's... that's monstrous."

"Is it? Probably. I couldn't say."
(Rand, The Fountainhead, Google Books)

This is the Dean's personal philosophy; although he doesn't care as much about the details of Roark's beliefs, he cannot understand why Roark would believe them without attempting to proselytize. In his experience, the only reason to have beliefs is to teach them to others; Roark has no interest in trying to convince others of his beliefs, but simply wants to practice them. The Dean represents the old, unmovable traditions of "higher learning," the idea that one attends school to be taught WHAT to think instead of HOW to think. The Dean's frustration at understanding Roark's purpose shows the narrowness of his worldview.

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