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Posted on August 19th, 2012, by

In her novel The Fountainhead Ayn Rand managed to create a perfect character, in other words a real hero whose way of life should be an example for everybody. Howard Roark, the protagonist of the novel, strikes us with his positive traits of character, but his adherence to his principles and firmness is even more highlighted by people around him and their acts. Particularly, we see the difference between the characters of Roark and Keating, who have chosen absolutely different ways to their aims.

First of all, Roark and Keating have different goals, which also point to their traits of character. Roark is a firm person with high principles.

He is unshakeable in his conviction that people should be true to themselves in any situation. By his own example he shows that the main purpose of life is to be honest to others and to oneself. Thus, a person remains individual and does not subdue to the collective ideas and to the opinion of the majority. With the help of Howard Roark, Ayn Rand expresses her own point of view that individuals and their thoughts will save the society from monotony and decay. The society has the herd mentality and people who try to distinguish from others and persist in their opinion, are oppressed and forced to obey the rules of the crowd. Roark is against such statement of a question. His main aim is to have his work done in his way without any adjustment to other people. Independence is the only gauge of human virtue and value. What a man is and makes of himself; not what he has or hasn’t done for others. There is no substitute for personal dignity (Rand 681).

In contrast to Roark, Keating is a person for whom the word principle means nothing. He strives for success and popularity and he is ready to use any means in order to achieve his aim. He flatters, adapts to others and uses people on the way to his goal. He is the direct contrary of Roark. Moreover, he despises Howard’s principles and uses him as well as others for his aims. Being unscrupulous, Keating thinks nothing of taking advantage of works of other people instead of working himself.

One might think that both ways, Roark’s and Keating’s, lead to success. However, Ayn Rand shows us that Keating’s path is a way to moral degradation. Any success that might be achieved by Keating’s methods is seeming and temporary. Keating understands it at the very end of his fruitless attempts to get to the top. He observes that despite all difficulties Roark managed to gain victory over others and to prove his case. Thinking over his life, Keating starts analyzing his acts and understands his mistakes.

Howard, I’m a parasite. I’ve been a parasite all my life I have fed on you and all the men like you who lived before we were born if they hadn’t existed I wouldn’t have known how to put stone to stone I have taken that which was not mine and given nothing in return (Rand 580 ).

This is a crucial moment in Keating’s life. Ayn Rand gives him another opportunity to turn over a new leaf and to change his view on the sense of life. Keating’s regeneration and insight in the meaning of life emphasizes Howard’s righteousness.

To crown all, in the novel The Fountainhead the writer presents two ways of aspiring to aims. However, she makes clear that only adherence to one’s principles and integrity can lead a person to his aim. By the example of Howard Roark, Ayn Rand proves that individuals can provide successful future of the society. Those who try to gain their ends due to flattering, submission to others and dishonesty will be finally in a blind alley. Peter Keating is a bright example of such person. Nevertheless, he still manages to find strength and to review his life but, unfortunately, it is too late.

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