The Number One Spot Essay, Research Paper
The Number One Spot
The common expression each man for himself has been heard from the beginning of time. Most people are out for themselves in the world. Sometimes this sense of individualism is a characteristic that is to be admired. Other times it is a flaw. Throughout her novel, The Fountainhead, Ayn Rand shows three characters with a strong sense of individuality. Howard Roark s sense of living for himself and his beliefs are strong character traits that cause an admiration because he sticks to his morals in all situations. Peter Keating s selfishness overpowers him and he uses anyone or thing to obtain his success. Ellsworth Toohey has all ready gained success in society; he is now out for personal revenge. He manipulates people to be his assistants in his demolition of his enemies. All three characters strongly show individualism and prove throughout the novel that the most important person to live for is himself.
Surviving in the real world is a difficult task in itself; surviving alone proves to be an obstacle. The choice to carry on unaided is usually an option that an individual chooses for himself. Howard Roark decides that the only way to live is for himself and for his beliefs. From the start, Howard Roark started off on the wrong foot. His teachers found his architectural view to be absurd and uncalled for. Roark found his work to be self-expressive and original. He saw no need to modify his way of design to the institute s way. To him, his buildings were beautiful, because they had a purpose, an actual function to its inhabitants besides the sheer outside decorations that normal designs contained. Since Roark would not conform and design against his will, he was kicked out of his school and was forced to be on his own.
Roark, however, did not mind the challenge. He found that the only way that he could be happy was to freely design his buildings under his standards. To him a building was a part of nature; raised from the ground and using the earth s beauty as an accessory. For Roark, this was the only way to build, the only way he would build. Occasionally he would be contracted by a similar mind that saw the beauty of his design. Mostly though he went through periods of financial drought. He somehow managed to survive and maintain an office. He would sit each day waiting for a phone call that did not come. He would not give up what he believed was right just to be successful in the eyes of others. For Roark, staying true to himself was a success in itself.
All of Roark s actions in his work are for himself and no one else. As he stated, Bricks and steel are not my motives. Neither are the clients. Both are the only means of my work But to get things done, you must love the doing, not the secondary consequences. The work, not the people. Roark realized that material objects made his ideas take place but that they were not the entire purpose of what he was doing. Roark was doing what he believed in and this included hard work. His work, and the quality of it, meant everything to him and if it were somehow obscured he would have no choice but to destroy it.
Roark gave specific instructions that he would build, as long as nothing was changed. Unfortunately, one time, things did not go according to plans and the building was distorted. Roark found that the only way to solve this problem was to destroy the building. He was so strong in his beliefs that he sacrificed all his hard work just because he could not see the building existing any other way than what he had planned. To him, blowing up the building was the only solution. If the building could not exist his way then he would not allow it to exist at all. Whether Roark was being kicked out of school, rejecting work, or blowing up a building, he was standing up for what he knew was right. Roark never let the outside world influence his judgements or his actions. In Roark s eyes, every factor he faced in his life had significance and led to his future.
On the opposite side of the fence, Peter Keating believed that in order to be pleased with himself, he had to please others. Instead of becoming an artist, Keating sacrificed his wants and became an architect because that was the profession that his mother wished him to acquire. Keating s mother decided that it would be a respectable position for her son. Keating graduated and joined the most respected architectural firm. He worked his way to the top, but not through his hard work and dedication. Instead, Keating used many different tactics to climb the rungs on the ladder of success.
To start off, none of his buildings were unique. Keating would study popular buildings of the past and steal various parts of their design and style. By doing so, his buildings became successful because they were familiar to the public. He combined aspects and themes from buildings so that his work would not show his total forgery.
Keating also used many people to aid him in his journey to success and fame. One of his victims was Tim Davis. Tim Davis was a main draftsman and Keating started to volunteer in helping Davis finish his drawings. At first it was a secret, but Keating soon made it known what he was doing. But, Keating looked like the good guy throughout the whole ordeal. On the surface, he was merely just helping out a co-worker. This is what it seemed to Tim Davis and the rest of the office. Underneath the surface, Keating knew that he was only helping so Davis would be viewed as useless therefore allowing Keating to obtain his job. As was stated, Tim Davis was the substance and the shape of the first step in his career. To Keating using people and their ideas was just a source in aiding him in becoming a success.
All of Keating s actions were self-centered. Unlike Roark, Keating s motives were to obtain success and fame in the eyes of others. His desire was to be somebody and be known in his society. How he became known was insignificant. His buildings and the people he encountered served no purpose to him except to further his career.
At first glance, Ellsworth Toohey gives the impression of a harmless, fragile, old man. Yet, many times, as in this case, appearances are not always what they seem. Toohey is an extremely well educated man who is known throughout society. He is called upon to make speeches and writes a column entitled One Small Voice. Many look up to Toohey as father type figure that gladly donates his time to help and counsel.
The title of Toohey s column is rather ironic. In his column Toohey uses eloquent language to slash his victims. After being noted in One Small Voice a person is either totally respected or disrespected. Toohey loudly makes it clear what he thinks of the situation and since so many hold him in high regard, his opinion is taken to heart. Toohey s small voice is not that at all. His words shouted at his reading audience making it fully aware of his hefty judgments therefore swaying the audience toward his point of view. Toohey s small voice definitely carries on strongly throughout society.
Toohey accumulates certain people. If he likes a person, maybe he will mention him in his column. Or perhaps, he will invite him to participate in one of the small groups that he has started. Toohey finds innocent young people who are trying to become a success and pulls them into his grasp. He establishes a relationship with these young people so they regard him as a wise elder/father type figure. Toohey handpicks these people because they have something in common with him and he needs to use them to achieve a certain goal. Toohey is extremely intellectual and he can see right through them. He recognizes their underhanded actions and lets them realize that he is unto their game without actually acknowledging anything. By doing so, Toohey causes them to become dependent upon him. They need to keep returning to him for advice and counseling. Toohey once said to one of the young people whom he took in, This is a pact, my dear. An alliance Our motives may be quite opposite. In fact, they are. But it doesn t matter. The result will be the same. It is not necessary to have a noble aim in common. It is necessary only to have a common enemy
Toohey may look sweet and innocent but he is a sly conniver who knows what he wants and how to get it from people. He befriends people who he can use to bring down his enemies. By doing so Toohey seems to be only an accomplice to the crime, not the mastermind behind it.
Living for oneself can prove to be either a difficult struggle or a natural commonplace act. Howard Roark, Peter Keating, and Ellsworth Toohey all have different ways of living for the only person who matters in their worlds-themselves. These men have searched their souls and concluded that in order to obtain personal success they have to put themselves in the number one spot.