The Fountainhead, written by Ayn Rand, is a novel about the ideals of four characters, all brought together to play different roles in the architecture industry. Ayn Rand, originally from Russia, moved to America in 1925, only one year after graduating from college (Ayn Rand Intitute). She came to America to escape the fighting brought on by Communism (ARI). Witnessing first-hand the evils of communism influenced Ayn Rand to develop her own, now widely accepted, "philosophical system, called Objectivism" (Kavanaugh). Rand, through hypnotic, amazing writing, created a character to personify her system. That character is Howard Roark. She also created his friend and archrival, Peter Keating. The novel begins with the two characters, at the end of their college careers at Stanton University. Howard had just been expelled, because he refused to design a building for the final project. The assignment called for him to draw a building with specific guidelines. Roark, despite his vast knowledge of architecture, untouchable skill and strong passion for designing, only wanted to design his own buildings. Peter Keating, seeking approval of others, finished the project, as instructed, and graduated. Keating believes that one can and should do anything to achieve his goals, even if it means going against your own belief system--the opposite of Objectivism. Throughout the story, Ayn Rand uses a non-Objectivist character, Peter Keating, to glorify her own philosophy of Objectivism.
To understand Peter Keating's character, we must first examine the foundation of Objectivism. Nathaniel Branden, once a close associate to Ayn Rand, in a personal statement entitled, "The Benefits and Hazards of the Philosophy of Ayn Rand, listed some important fundamentals of Objectivism (42). "Objectivism teaches:
That a rational code of ethics is possible and is derivable from an appropriate assessment of the nature human beings as well as the nature of reality;
That the standard of good is not God or the alleged needs of society but rather `Man's life,' that which is objectively required for man's or woman's life, survival, and well-being;
That a human being is an end in him- or herself, that each one of us has the right to exist for our own sake, neither sacrificing others to self nor self to others;
That the principles of justice and respect for individuality, autonomy, and personal rights must replace the principles of sacrifice in human relationships;
That no individual--and no group--has the moral right to initiate the use of force against others;
That force is permissible only in retaliation and only against those who have initiated its use" (43).
This list shows only six of ten fundamentals described by Branden, but the philosophy of Objectivism, just as any major philosophy, is far more complex. With these few concepts in mind, understanding Peter Keating and his role of indirectly promoting Objectivism is simple.
In the first...