The Fountainhead Questions and Answers
by Ayn Rand

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How does the following quote relate to the major themes in The Fountainhead? (the quote follows)   Peter Keating talking about Roark: “I often think that he’s the only one of us who’s achieved immortality. I don’t mean in the sense of fame and I don’t mean that he won’t die some day. But he’s living it. I think he is what the conception really means. You know how people long to be eternal. But they die with every day that passes. When you meet them, they’re not what you met last. In any given hour, they kill some part of themselves. They change, they deny, they contradict–and they call it growth. At the end there’s nothing left, nothing unrevered or unbetrayed; as if there had never been any entity, only a succession of adjectives fading in and out on an unformed mass. How do they expect a permanence which they have never held for a single moment? But Howard–one can imagine him existing forever.”

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lynnebh eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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I believe this paragraph illustrates Rand's view of the uniqueness of the individual and how it is that uniqueness that is immortal. Roark represents individualism in the novel and Rand views this as being more noble than collectivism. The group mentality results in mediocrity - the "unformed mass" as she calls it. Roark, on the other hand, refuses to let the collective sway him from his indiviual path in life. His life has been one of swimming upstream, against the current of collectivism. He fails to graduate from college but it is no big deal to him because he claims he never learned anything important there anyway. He esschews money but yet achieves a more important goal because his designs, his work illustrate vision, passion, whereas Keating's do not. Keating must resort to manipulation to succeed, whereas Roark succeeds because he is unique. Everything else is measured against him in this novel - thus, he is a true "fountainhead" - a source.

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