The Fountainhead

by Ayn Rand

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Student Question

How do chapters 16-20 of "The Fountainhead" relate to Objectivism?

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In this section of the novel Roark has destroyed a low-cost multi-unit housing project because the “group of architects have destroyed his original design.  With the help of Dominique Wynand, Roark blows up the complex.  Dominique cuts her wrists in an effort to make it look like she was injured in the explosion and she nearly dies.   Meanwhile Wynand takes a stand in support of Roark.  This is an unpopular stand at the newspaper and Ellsworth Toohey decides to take advantage of the situation.  He plans to bring down the Banner and Wynand with a planned strike by the employees of the paper.  For a short time Dominique and Wynand are able to keep the paper open and going to the presses.  However, Wynand is finally pushed to the limit and he gives in to the demands of Toohey and the power brokers.  He sells out his values to keep the paper open rather than see it fall.

At his trial, Roark defends himself and his summation to the jury is the crux of Rand’s philosophy of Objectivism.  Roark tells the jury that the design of the building was his.  He told them that he made a contract with Peter Keating to get the project built on the condition that no changes are made to his design.  Keating caved in to the pressure of the other designers and let them change the design.  Roark justifies the destruction of his own work and is found innocent of all charges.

These chapters directly prove the power of Objectivism if for no other reason than Roark’s defense of his actions.

“The fundamental issue in life is survival. Roark points out that man comes onto earth with none of the goods necessary for his survival. Everything required for human life is a product of mans own effort. Man faces a constant alternative: He can survive by means of his own effort or as a leech fed by the productive work of others. “The creator originates. The parasite borrows. The creator faces nature alone. The parasite faces nature through an intermediary. The creator’s concern is the conquest of nature. The parasite’s concern is the conquest of men.”(chap 19)

This is Objectivism.  A great visual aid for this might be to Photoshop a 100.00 bill and then superimpose the word OBJECTIVISM onto the bill.  You can see the word, but the big block letters will have the texture or picture of money.

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