The Fountainhead

Dynamics of Egotism and Altruism in Ayn Rand's The Fountainhead

The Russian Revolution of 1917 greatly influenced the lives of Russian citizens as socialism became a driving political force. Ayn Rand, who grew up during this time of political change and uncertainty, experienced firsthand the effects of socialism and therefore developed a feeling of enmity toward everything socialism stood for. Rand’s experience in Russia served as a catalyst in forming her philosophy that is the basis of her novel The Fountainhead: that true human integrity can be attained only by resisting society’s corruptive influence by performing selfish acts, and never compromising one’s ideals and individuality. Rand uses two specific characters to develop this theme throughout the course of her novel. The first character and hero of the novel, Howard Roark, embodies the perfect man. Even through overwhelming adversity he does not compromise his beliefs, which ultimately attributes to his great moral success. In direct contrast to Roark is Peter Keating, a “second-hander” who lives to gain the approval of others. Although he experiences financial success, his inability to live by Rand’s “standards for moral success” eventually lead to his character’s demise. By examining the contrast that drives this novel through...

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