Individualism In The Fountainhead Essay, Research Paper
A. This particular quote from The Fountainhead summarizes the obvious differences between Peter Keating and Howard Roark. The question that Keating poses is rather meaningless and has no real answer because making a decision requires very little thinking. Roark finds an answer in the form of a question though, that leaves Keating silent in his lack of understanding. Keating’s ignorance is his own fault though due to his way of avoiding the difficulty of choosing. By doing this he is essentially avoiding life and all the freedom that can come with it. Instead, Keating will sacrifice his given freedom and let other people control his life, such as his mom and clients do. In addition to the fact that he heartily follows the manipulation of Ellsworth Toohey and to a lesser degree, Gail Wynand. He has purposely become just another puppet in the grand scheme of things by his choice. On the other hand, Roark is an opposite of Keating in every respect. Recognizing the freedom of making one’s own decisions, he is completely independent in the area of deciding with no ties of any kind that ensures his survival. Unlike Keating, Roark wants to be in absolute control of his life, completely independent by deciding his own fate, which he performs without any regret at all. He relies on no one to choose paths of life for him and therefore is in control of his future. In the end Roark and Keating switch places. One becomes the fallen; the other is the ruler. This comes as a surprise to only Keating, who lived off the work of others. Like he said to Roark one time, “I am a parasite.” Peter possessed many more character faults other than his fear and refusal to make a real decision.
B. Roark, in response to a someone’s meaningful statement, simply takes it apart by giving one more statement back. To Roark, the phrase “I love you” has really no real significance anymore in verbal communication. Its misusage along with daily use has worn off the intended meaning, and only those who seriously seek it will find it and be able to truly use it. This statement also expresses Roark’s individualism as well. It is his way of saying that there is generally no man, who doesn’t know what he is in essence. He would theoretically wish to see people mentally try and find knowledge about themselves, in Roark’s opinion this would be more valuable than any other information that could be possibly known. Thinking of the book itself the reader would find the relationship with Roark and Dominique to be quite an unusual one, for example. In Roark’s eyes though, it would make perfect sense. Dominique must truly mean and understand the phrase, “I love you,” in order to say it to Roark. In this situation a man like him would never accept anything less than perfection because it would be at the cost of his time spent with her.
C. Once again the reader sees Keating’s problem with choosing, again along with his other flaws in this quote. He wishes never to be against the majority, but always approved of by people who have no real importance at all in his life. By being this spineless he will never stand up for himself and always will give in to the crowd because he needs their support in order to even take a stand. Keating represents the general public in this novel, beings that can communicate other people’s thoughts, thinking that they are their own. Through Keating’s eyes of the public, Roark does stand alone against the rest of the world, which makes him an enemy for no particular reason to men like Peter. Roark doesn’t move with the crowd because he doesn’t think it is the correct choice. Instead, he walks away from it and goes down the path he thinks is the correct one. Peter Keating will keep following the crowd though, even if it leads him to his downfall.
D. By the actions seen in the novel, Roark surely doesn’t want one moment of his short life wasted. His time is by no means worthlessness to him, even for one second, and he is saying through this quote that he will not let anyone take advantage of him by taking it away. To Roark, this is the greatest treasure he possesses, and he will not let one person have a piece of it. He will defend it against anything. That is one reason why he doesn’t engage in mindless chatter for the sake of socializing. The whole world is Roark’s enemy in this novel, but he still fights on for what he believes in, not knowing about his future, just knowing what he is doing is right. This is the reason he does not socialize with anyone for no reason, and associate with people that won’t hesitate to waste his time. Even if he is forced to wait for someone else, he isn’t portrayed to be the type of guy to mentally think of things without importance. Even so, he says, “I do not recognize,” meaning Roark will put up with someone for as long as he deems it necessary. For Roark is obviously not the type of guy to perform tasks without an important purpose, that doesn’t coincide with the baseline of his beliefs. This self-realization of himself makes him superior to any other character in the novel.
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