Webster’s Dictionary defines fountainhead as “a fountain or spring from which a stream flows; the head or source of a stream.” In Ayn Rand’s novel The Fountainhead, which was first published in 1943, Howard
Roark is the fountainhead. He is the fountain of knowledge, persistently providing a stream of wisdom wherever he goes to everyone he comes in contact with. The only way this is possible is for him to go outside the “box” of his society. By showing great independence and individuality in both his thoughts and actions, Howard Roark is looked at as an outsider, squandering his life away for an unworthy purpose. These individualistic traits are very uncommon and daring, but can prove to either be very beneficial, or more often than not, overwhelmingly detrimental and life ruining. A good example of this in the book was the life of Henry Cameron. By going outside of the “box” of society, he was considered a brilliant architect. Bam. All of the sudden he is living in a rundown shack, barely surviving off pocket change. After an immense amount of thought, I have discovered that I am not a chance taker, but instead just your average conformist.
I intend to become an independent thinker someday. It seems that as a person’s knowledge level rises, their likeliness of becoming an individualist grows immensely. As a young child, I always attended church with my family and other social events which they deemed suitable for our position on the situation. That was just the problem. It should never be our choice. It should be mine or yours. We should all be free to decide what we believe is right or wrong, without the fear of being labeled an outcast for the rest of our lives. I think that I was 10 years old before I ever discovered any other religions besides Christianity. Most parents today unintentionally force their kids into their image, simply because that was the way they were raised! It is very important that as children we learn all of the major choices in life having to do with religion, sex, politics, etc. This ensures that we are making the right decisions for ourselves and not for someone else.
There are of course chastisements for behaving just as you want, which is obviously necessary. If we all ran around doing what we wanted to do all of the time, there would be no sense of control in the world. Chaos. That is what we would be left in. By being your own person, others would still outcast you by means of their own opinions, and life would still be dreadfully intolerable.
Advantages to this lifestyle are that you could find a place and a way to enjoy yourself significantly, with whomsoever you please. In the face of such a chaotic atmosphere, it would be easier to rise and shine, and if you were like Howard Roark, you could even put up buildings that you were satisfied with wherever you wanted.
Physically and socially a person can afford to not be true to themselves, but there is an emotional decay taking place inside their soul at the same time. This hatred within yourself becomes a burning thorn in your chest, and will eventually cause you to let it out through actions or words that you would never on a normal occasion use. This can be done over time slowly, or through one bottled up burst of emotions gone wrong such as suicide or murder.
Peter Keating never thought for himself. As he confessed in The Fountainhead, “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.” By admitting this to Howard Roark, Peter acknowledged that he was a conformist, using an independent thinkers ideas. This was killing him inside, and was all let out at once. The Fountainhead proved to be a noteworthy book, and as soon as I finish reading it I will probably hold a different outlook on life. Thanks once again for a long, but good book for your favorite class, and of course me, your favorite student.