The Fountainhead

These Rocks: Man-Worship, Power, and Apathy in Ayn Rand’s The Fountainhead

Man’s fabric, biblically, is dirt. Under the misnomer of “soil,” this substance signifies filth; yet it is essentially pure until Man soils it himself, with blood or spit or footprints, just as Eve first laced it with the juice of an apple. Biologically, the zygotic recipe for a human results from two other humans’ animalistic urges, hormones, and, sometimes, emotions. This act, like dirt, can remain beautiful or become tainted. Thus Man harbors responsibility for his own cleanliness and significance. If he holds a handful of the soil that made him, or observes through a microscope the haploid his cells sprang from, and declares it insignificant or filthy, he has declared himself the same; if he finds beauty, greatness, and potential in his roots, he has discovered these within himself. The latter, classified as “man-worship” by Ayn Rand in her introduction to The Fountainhead, is practiced by several characters, particularly Ellsworth Toohey, Gail Wynand, and her protagonist, Howard Roark.

The Fountainhead outlines three basic classes of power: traditional, reversed, and apathetic, applied by Wynand, Toohey, and Roark, respectively. The salient similarity between these men and their techniques is their firm belief in the...

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