Howard Roark’s Value System

The novel The Fountainhead written by Ayn Rand attracts the readers’ attention not only because it develops the present day philosophic themes but also because it shows a great deal of characters with absolutely different approaches to life. Ayn Rand, the author of the book and merely a strong-willed person, represents her conservative philosophical principles through her characters. One of the main characters is Howard Roark who is considered to be the hero of the book. Howard Roark, a creator of new trend in architecture is full of ideas but he cannot find support in the society he lives.

My goal in this essay is to prove the fact Howard Roark’s value system cannot be perfect in our society.
Howard Roark is a protagonist in the novel The Fountainhead. His principle of life allows him to think that an individual can be “a prime mover” in order to learn the key points of pure art.(Rand, 23)

He is a representative of individualism. It is known that he was expelled from the Stanton Institute of Technology where he learned architecture by the reason of abiding his own principles of art. He made a decision to leave the institute although some professor defended him and his ideas and offered him to stay at Stanton Institute. The author of the novel shows the readers that this young man is a strong-willed person who does not want to give up his ideas and to change his principles. (Mayhew, 15)

Howard finds another person whose ideas are close to his own ideas. Henry Cameron played an important role in the life and work of Howard Roark. The young architect follows his heart and his values which are based on his principles to believe in his own specialness. He does not want to conform to the opinion of other people. As his style in architecture is absolutely new he finds a lot of opponents who are against his extraordinary ideas. They do not appreciate his style in architecture and want to make Howard change his style and his ideas.(Gary)

Howard is a very talented man who can easily find faults in the works of other architects. He knows a lot and represents his own ideas without any hesitation. For example, in the conversation with the dean of the Stanton Institute he asserts that the oldest traditions became outdated: “The famous flutings on the famous columns, what are they there for?” (Rand,32)

He cannot understand why he should copy the ideas of other people when he has a great deal of his own ideas. He does not want to be similar to anybody else. It is his own way of life, he has his own ideas and principles. He is not the one who will obey the opinions of other people. Moreover, he does not want to listen to the opinions of other people. He is individualist that is why he thinks only about himself.(Gladstein)

Howard’s career is the major thing in his life. He can be easily called an egoist. During his life Howard met a lot of people. All of them played some role in his philosophy of life. Some people admired his ability to survive in the brutal and unfair world of architecture. Gail Winand was one of them. When Howard and Gail visited a country house there was an example of Howard’s principles of value system. He compared a branch which he tore off the tree with the material for his creative work. He said: “I can make what I want of it: a bow, a spear, a cane, a railing”. (Rand, 26)

It means that any person is free in his ideas. He should not dance to other people’s pipe. Any person should do as he or she wants. Howard Roark always did what appealed to him. He had never listened to other people’s opinion as opposed to another character in the novel, Peter Keating. (Mayhew, 41)

Peter Keating and Howard Roark. Peter Keating young man had another principles: he worked for the public fulfilling all their desires in architecture. He served the other people. He did not think about his own desires. Howard Roark never compromises his principles for the public. Peter Keating went to Stanton Institute the same year as Howard did. However, he had a great success and graduated as the best student of the class. (Gladstein, 33)

Analyzing his character, it is necessary to say that all he did at school and in his career was connected with his mother who was the principle person in his life. Peter Keating’s principle of life is to please other people. This trait of character can be found in many other characters in the novel. Keating is an example of a present day individual who is ready to do service to other people. He is a conformist who is ready to capitulate his common sense and his major principles and ideas. Peter Keating wants someone to influence his life. Peter is a complete difference of Howard’s personality. The author represented these two characters in her novel because she wanted the readers to compare them. Keating became an architect because his mother wanted him to be an architect. It was not his own choice. He could make an excellent career in the field of architecture. (Mayhew, 36)

The Authors Relation to Howard Roark. The author of the novel considers Howard Roark to be the hero of her novel because he is a representative of her own philosophy. Objectivism is the philosophy of Ayn Rand. (Hitchens)

She says that her philosophy is “the concept of man as a heroic being” who has his own happiness as “the moral process in his life”, his productive achievement as his noblest activity and his reason as his own absolute”.(Rand, 42)

Howard is represented by the author as a complete opposite of his contemporaries who think that the ideal man should be altruist. The society needs a person who will serve mankind. Ayn Rand describes his hero as a man of her life standards. The main reason of Howard’s aloofness in the society lies in his individuality. He has not any relation to religion because he relies on himself. The society is nothing for him. His personality is on the first place in his life. (Hitchens)

Dominique Francon and Howard Roark. Dominique Francon, a young beautiful girl could change the life of Howard. She was a woman whom he loved all his life. He met this young woman in the rock quarry when he was working with his construction. There was an immediate attraction between them. She supported Howard’s principles and ideas as she had similar principles and ideas. She also did everything in her life only for herself and she did not think about anybody’s opinion. In spite of being in love with Howard, she decided to marry first Peter Keating and then Gail Winand. She just wanted to feel what he felt. She always wanted to understand Howard’s principles of value system.

In conclusion of the essay, it is necessary to say that Howard Roark’s value system is based on his own personality. This young man is true to himself. Of course, the society did not like his standards of life. However, Ayn Rand’s main idea was to prove the fact that such people like Howard should take the first position in our society. It is difficult to say that Howard Roark offers a realistic role model for graduates who aim to succeed. We live in the society and it will never do to think only about yourself. That is why Howard cannot be a model for graduates. His value system cannot be highly appreciated in our society. That is why in the real world Peter Keating is more likely to succeed.









Works Cited
Arnold, Gary. Uninspired Vision of Ayn Rand. The Washington Times. March 27, 1998.
Gladstein, M. The New Ayn Rand Companion. London: Greenwood P Press. 1999. Print.
Hitchens, Christopher. Ayn-Randed: You Got a Problem with Objectivism. The American Spectator. September/October. 2001.
Mayhew, Robert. Essays on Ayn Rand’s The Fountainhead. Lanham: Laxington Books. 2006. Print.
Rand, Ayn. The Fountainhead. New York: Pinguin. 1993. Print.


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