Standing Alone Against the World in Ayn Rand's The Fountainhead
Conformity is a basic human characteristic that man spends a life time either fighting or accepting, but few can escape. Parents, churches, schools, and communities teach that the path Peter Keating follows is the assured road to security and happiness. Humans crave companionship and are willing to sacrifice their values, beliefs, and very souls for the satisfaction of superficial love. Howard Roark demonstrates that true happiness comes from within, at the end of a wearisome road. He confirms this ideal through exhaustible determination struggling from burdensome beginnings to almost unattainable goals without relenting to pressures from society. This concept of non-conformity is exemplified throughout the novel. It is most clearly defined in Howard's resolution to work for Henry Cameron, his rejection of the A.G.A., and the Cortlandt Housing project.
Howard Roark elucidates from the very beginning that he is going to work for Henry Cameron, a revolution considering Cameron's present state, or lack thereof. Roark is laughed at for having such a fatuous goal but hardly notices the acrimonious criticism that follows him. Even Henry Cameron himself rebukes Howard Roarks efforts to study under him, and only relents to Howard's wishes after he feels that he can no longer bear to reject such talent. The demonstration of drive and determination as well as defiance of basic rules of social structure make it difficult to not admire this aspiring architect. It is clear at this point that Howard Roark is going to get what he wants, and he has no concern for what anyone else thinks of it.
Roark establishes his own practice and has a conversation with Peter Keating about the A.G.A or Architect's Guild of America. During this conversation Roark shows no desire to even entertain the idea of becoming a member. This is a considerable rejection because the A.G.A is a prestigious association. Howard, however, has no time or use for such social graces. He feels that no help is required in his career or life, nor desires any type of outside opinion or influence on any aspect of his work or life. Peter is understandably astonished, after all he lives to exceed the status quo by achieving membership in such activities. Membership that brings companionship, recognition, and praise. Peter wants the world to believe he is great and important and will do anything to achieve such a position in...