Thursday, December 29, 2005

The Fountainhead

Recently I wrote about the philosophy of Ayn Rand based on her novel The Fountainhead, as part of an assignment. The philosophical part of the assignment would be pretty difficult to digest but then the synopsis of the novel, I thought, would be worth sharing. So here you go! Please refrain from reading further if you are planning to read the novel in future. For those who have already read it take a trip down memory lane rekindling one of the masterpieces of modern literature.

-- Warning: spoiler ahead --

Howard Roark and Peter Keating are from the same architecture school. Keating graduated as the topper with contemptuous help from Roark while Roark was expelled from the school for refusing to adhere to the curriculum by changing his own ideas. After his studies, Keating joins Guy Francon’s privileged architecture firm while Roark works under the veteran architect Cameron, who was uprooted long back by Gail Wynand, the media tycoon. Keating has plans to marry Dominique Francon, daughter of Guy Francon who is also a columnist, and succeed him in his business. Roark has his own notions about buildings, that each building is a character by its own and hence new buildings shan’t be just a copy of its old counterparts, which unfortunately was done by architects of his age. Hence he doesn’t get many assignments. He isn’t able to pursue his architecture-ship further and eventually ends up working in a quarry for a living, where he meets Dominique Francon and both fall in love. Roark soon receives an invitation to do the design of a building at New York city and leaves the quarry.

Keating’s mother wants him to marry Dominique as he falls in love with a poor woman. Dominique makes Keating marry herself, in order to test Roark and she also tries to demerit Roark thinking that the world doesn’t deserve his creations; all due to the love she has for him. Ellsworth Toohey, the main anti-hero of the novel, with some hidden plans, invites Roark to design a temple. Roark places a nude statue of Dominique in the temple. Later Toohey talks to the public about the poor design of the building and sues Roark, basically to hinder his growth. Toohey also makes Gail Wynand meet Dominique which results in the marriage of Dominique and Wynand. Meanwhile Roark and Wynand become friends.

Roark designs a housing project owing to Keating’s request and later finds out that the initial design he made has been changed by Keating’s associates. As a result Roark blows off the building and Dominique gets hurt while helping him. Roark convinces the court why he blew off the building and talks about his philosophy which forms the essence of the novel and Ayn Rand’s philosophy of objectivism. During the trial Wynand’s newspaper accuses Roark mainly due to Toohey’s presence in it as a columnist and Wynand takes its side. As a result Dominique leaves Wynand and marries Roark. Finally Wynand realizes his mistake, fires Toohey and gives Roark a new construction project where the story ends.

-- Spoiler end --

The Fountainhead is the best fictional work and also the best love story I have ever read. But somewhere I could empathize with Howard Roark as a character that I feel I am like him in many aspects.