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I have two questions about event that occur in the Fountainhead.

1. Toohey and Keating are both morally reprehensible. Roark does not think of Toohey, however, he has many conversations with Keating. Why does he consider Keating? Wouldn't it be better for Roark to respond to Keating like he responds to Toohey? I realize that Keating and Roark's interactions serve a purpose in the novel. But wouldn't you think a person like Roark would not even begin to seriously speak to or help someone like Keating?

2. Dominique, who possesses self-esteem, goes to great lengths to degrade herself. What is one to think of a person who is the exact opposite of Dominique in this respect? That is, what is one to think of a person who has no self-esteem and goes on a quest to prove that they have self-esteem?

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I'll comment on the first question really quickly, I'm in a bit of a hurry. I wanted to address the latter in the chat room, but all I was getting were error messages(the question is stated here a little differently, too). Anyways, you have to keep in mind that Roark lived with the Keatings, and also went to school with Peter. So, his interactions with Peter stemmed from that. Usually, mainly, if not always, Peter would approach Roark. Also keep in mind the way that Roark would help Keating. He enjoyed architecture so much, his overabundance poured forth when Keating needed some help with a drawing.

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1. Toohey and Keating are both morally reprehensible. Roark does not think of Toohey, however, he has many conversations with Keating. Why does he consider Keating? Wouldn't it be better for Roark to respond to Keating like he responds to Toohey? I realize that Keating and Roark's interactions serve a purpose in the novel. But wouldn't you think a person like Roark would not even begin to seriously speak to or help someone like Keating?

It's been a while since I read The Fountainhead, but my recollection is that Roark never actively sought out Keating for conversation. Keating sought out Roark, and Roark treated him politely in such cases. This is pretty similar to Roark's relationship with Toohey; Roark did not seek Toohey out, but spoke to him politely and honestly when he did.

The fact that Roark's conversations with Keating were significantly more extensive than with Toohey, and the fact that Roark took actions that helped Keating's career, can be traced to two factors. First, Keating is not as bad as Toohey. Toohey is the mastermind, committing evil with full knowledge of what he is doing. Keating is a victim, and he does have a better nature. He occasionally designs buildings in which Roark can find some value. His love for Katie is selfish. He is able to get Roark a job at one point. Etc. Keating is mixed, not purely evil, and as such delimited interactions with him are reasonable. It's also worth noting that as Keating declines, Roark deals with him less and less until the Cortlandt incident -- which is different because at that point Keating has honestly identified the nature of his relationship with Roark and tries for a fresh start. The second factor, which explains Roark's willingness to help Keating with his buildings, is simply that Roark does not view this primarily as helping Keating. He views it as helping the *buildings*, which is a very different matter.

2. Dominique, who possesses self-esteem, goes to great lengths to degrade herself. What is one to think of a person who is the exact opposite of Dominique in this respect? That is, what is one to think of a person who has no self-esteem and goes on a quest to prove that they have self-esteem?

I would think badly of such a person. The overt quest for self-esteem is usually a sign that the person questing does not have it, and such quests generally end with pseudo-self-esteem rather than the genuine article.

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But wouldn't you think a person like Roark would not even begin to seriously speak to or help someone like Keating?

The Cosmo-Slotnick building is sort of a case in point. This is also an example of where Keating approaches Roark. It was more to the mutual benefit of both of them, I think, but can also include, or fall under "helping". Keating gets all the credit, Roark just wants to see his building built. Okay, if I don't leave now, I'll be late for work...! I'm really attempting to make sense somehow here...with little time.

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Toohey and Keating are both morally reprehensible. Roark does not think of Toohey, however, he has many conversations with Keating. Why does he consider Keating? Wouldn't it be better for Roark to respond to Keating like he responds to Toohey?...

Wouldn't you think a person like Roark would not even begin to seriously speak to or help someone like Keating?

I wouldn't think of Keating as reprehensible. More like pitiful, but potential to be more. To that extent, Keating was tolerable, whereas I doubt Roark would have spent time with Toohey even if they had grown up together.

Plus, considering the end result of allowing Keating to take credit for things he didn't earn, I don't know if Roark really considered Keating in the first place.

Roark wasn't the only character who treated Keating differently from Toohey. Dom also seemed to pity (or word of choice) Keating while treating Toohey as an unsavory ally, and Wynand IMO disliked Peter for different reasons than those for disliking Toohey.

Dominique, who possesses self-esteem, goes to great lengths to degrade herself. What is one to think of a person who is the exact opposite of Dominique in this respect? That is, what is one to think of a person who has no self-esteem and goes on a quest to prove that they have self-esteem?
To me, Dom never degraded herself. One such as Dom can't degrade themselves unless they lose what gives them self-esteem, and one without self-esteem can't gain it without achieving what brings self-esteem.
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I have two questions about event that occur in the Fountainhead.

1. Toohey and Keating are both morally reprehensible. Roark does not think of Toohey, however, he has many conversations with Keating. Why does he consider Keating? Wouldn't it be better for Roark to respond to Keating like he responds to Toohey? I realize that Keating and Roark's interactions serve a purpose in the novel. But wouldn't you think a person like Roark would not even begin to seriously speak to or help someone like Keating?

2. Dominique, who possesses self-esteem, goes to great lengths to degrade herself. What is one to think of a person who is the exact opposite of Dominique in this respect? That is, what is one to think of a person who has no self-esteem and goes on a quest to prove that they have self-esteem?

I don't disagree with anything written so far on this thread. I only wish to add a few things.

1) There is a scene towards the end where roark acknowledges that the "help" he gave peter was really a great detriment to him and to some extent apologizes for having given it. I agree that he was helping the buildings more then peter and when he had the oppurtunity to work on one, he couldn't resist for selfish reasons. It's a good question. There is a lot that you could speculate on. I suspect, that because peter was younger then toohey and less evil, roark may have attributed to him more honesty then he actually posessed. Thinking that he really did want help with the building because he wanted to improve. There was a process over the course of the novel where roark seemed to be coming to understand the concept of the second-hander.

2) Dominic's mistake is that of believing in a malevolent universe and I don't believe is related to self-esteem. Because she thought of the world as essentialy bad, she didn't want it to have good things that it doesn't deserve. Mallory's statues, roark's buildings, or her company. She wished to destroy anything that was good to satisfy her sense of justice. What she learned ultimately from roark is that all the good things in the world belong to them and them exclusively. Keating could never experience the exaltation of standing in the stoddard temple even if he could stand in the temple. Keating couldn't be over-whelmed by the beauty in a statue of Dominic or the person of Dominic for that matter. If he passed it on a street corner, he would do just that, pass it by...unless of course there was a crowd looking at it. :devil: It takes a person of virtue who is capable of holding stong values to hold strong values. Another example of this would be why the bracelet of rearden metal was valued so strongly by dagny and not by lilian, in Atlas Shrugged. Or when Dagny noted at a party that seemed pointless how parties were supposed to be for them and their achievements, not for the looters and moochers. What cause do they really have to celebrate?

The opposite you mention really isn't an opposite, it's just a different mistake. That sort of person is trying to 'prove' to someone else that they have self-esteem which is the definition of second-handedness. If they were prooving it to themselves, you would(should) in all likelihood never know about it. Self-esteem is between you and yourself no one else should ever be involved. Self-esteem stricty speaking, isn't something you can proove. Not even to yourself. How could you prove to yourself that you like yourself? You know if you do or don't automatically. You acquire it by living according to proper virtues. Because they enable you to achieve values. Achieving values gives you self-confidence. Having self-confidence means you trust yourself in a very broad way. Trusting yourself means you view yourself as good person. Being a good person makes you esteem yourself more highly. So if they were trying to gain self esteem by pursuing values, that would be one thing. If they are trying to convince you they have it, I'd stay away from them.

Thanks for the great questions

Gordon

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I wouldn't think of Keating as reprehensible. More like pitiful, but potential to be more. To that extent, Keating was tolerable, whereas I doubt Roark would have spent time with Toohey even if they had grown up together.

I think you give him too much credit. Eddie Willers (in Atlas) is pitiful. Keating is reprehensible. Not just because of his mediocrity, but his motives and actions-- giving up art for his mother's approval, murdering Heyer, getting his friend fired so he could have the job, etc.

Roark wasn't the only character who treated Keating differently from Toohey. Dom also seemed to pity (or word of choice) Keating while treating Toohey as an unsavory ally, and Wynand IMO disliked Peter for different reasons than those for disliking Toohey.
Dominique married Peter.. I don't know if pity is the right word for her feelings for him at all-- except in the scene where Peter breaks down and is honest with her for a brief moment. Ultimately, I think Dominique's feelings for everyone besides Roark is a kind of mongrel-disgust. But for Peter I think her feeling manifests as a mixture of boredom, admiration, frustration, pity, and repulsion. I know I have a tendency to discount Dominique's marriages previous to Roark, but she did marry those guys, have sex with them, share her life and time with them, etc. I think there's a certain point where you can't just ascribe her actions to a complete cover-up, even though that's what it might be on a fundamental level.. Those parts are really hard for me to read.

There's also the drama where the reader wants to say to Roark, "Don't trust him! He's a weakling who will not keep his word. Stop...stop."

Even though I know what's coming, when I re-read the book or watch the movie, I'm always impressed when I get to the part where Peter keeps his word to Roark and tries to stand up to the Cortlandt thugs. I never completely understand why he decides to sign the confession. Is it possible for someone to have and to betray their own values that consistently? In a certain sense, Peter is one of the most frightening creatures in The Fountainhead, I think.

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I think you give him too much credit. Eddie Willers (in Atlas) is pitiful. Keating is reprehensible. Not just because of his mediocrity, but his motives and actions-- giving up art for his mother's approval, murdering Heyer, getting his friend fired so he could have the job, etc.
Then perhaps we're merely using the term "reprehensible" to mean different things. To me, Toohey, a man of minimal talent, was reprehensible because he knew that his actions would logically lead to ruin - seeking evil for the sake of evil. Peter, a man of above average (though by no means great) talent was wrong because he didn't see the inevitable consequences of his actions - seeking evil things that he incorrectly thought were good. As such, Peter was always redeemable (by "opening his eyes," whereas Toohey certainly wasn't) and I personally hesitate to use reprehensible in that context.

On a side note, I'm not sure how much reprehensible-inducing fault should be attributed Peter for giving up art, Heyer's death, and his "friend's" firing.

Ultimately, I think Dominique's feelings for everyone besides Roark is a kind of mongrel-disgust. But for Peter I think her feeling manifests as a mixture of boredom, admiration, frustration, pity, and repulsion.
That's sounds good, but, to illustrate the Toohey/Peter difference, I don't think Dom held any boredom, admiration, frustration, or pity for Toohey. IMO Dominique almost certainly thought differently of Toohey than Peter; otherwise she most surely could have married Toohey (while I don't think marrying Peter was a loss of self-esteem, I certainly think marrying Toohey would have been, and a bigger blow to Howard to boot.)

I know I have a tendency to discount Dominique's marriages previous to Roark, but she did marry those guys, have sex with them, share her life and time with them, etc. I think there's a certain point where you can't just ascribe her actions to a complete cover-up, even though that's what it might be on a fundamental level.. Those parts are really hard for me to read.
Hmm, what do you mean by cover-up?
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  • 9 months later...

I think the reason Roark talks to keating more can be seen when at the begining when Keating asks his advice about taking the job in new york Roark says that keating does good work sometimes. I think he talks to him as a nod to those times when Keating actually lives up to his potential, this may jar a little when you consider this is Roark we're talking about but how many of us have continued to talk to people we should cast aside because they show instances of brilliance?

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I want to share some insight from my own personal experiences with someone who has denied acceptance of objectivist ideas because he doesn't believe he can realistically live by them. This someone is a co-worker who introduced me to the Fountainhead.

I used to work with directly but now have accelerated past him into lead positions. He has not moved.

I've seen him do great work (architecture). Impressive work that I could learn a few things from, work from before we met. He has not done work that impressive for the company, ever. He still does average work, better than less talented people, but what bothers me most is that I know he can do better and doesn't. I don't understand why.

In the three years I have known him he has developed a chronic cough, has grown chubby, and now slouches.

Honestly if I ran the company I would have him fired. If I ever get the opportunity I will.

In my mind he is a living Keating, almost a Toohey. Yet I am still kind to him. I pity him but I still think there is hope. I've questioned him, asked why, but never got a straight answer.

So, my guess as to why Roark bothers with Keating... it's because he still thinks there is hope. Hope that he will one day not be afraid of success or greatness.

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  • 7 months later...
In a certain sense, Peter is one of the most frightening creatures in The Fountainhead, I think.

Perhaps I'm wrong, but I kind of see Peter as an example of how vulnerable man can be without a consistent moral basis to guide him. I pitied Peter because he was a victim of his family and the society in which he grew up in. It's not hard to see why he was confused. While he certainly had the CAPACITY, to change that situation, I think his story was, in particular, a shining example of MOST people in modern society.

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Perhaps I'm wrong, but I kind of see Peter as an example of how vulnerable man can be without a consistent moral basis to guide him. I pitied Peter because he was a victim of his family and the society in which he grew up in. It's not hard to see why he was confused. While he certainly had the CAPACITY, to change that situation, I think his story was, in particular, a shining example of MOST people in modern society.

Peter was not a victim of anybody but his own choices. Keating among many other things, failed to introspect with honesty so he just continued on a wrong path instead of acknowledging to himself: Ok what I am doing is not making me happy. I don't know what the answer is, since I have done everything that I thought would bring me to that state; I don't know what kind of change I have to make but I know I have to change something. Let me take a look at people who are self content in order to learn what makes it possible.

That is possible to anyone, regardless of childhood influences.

I agree with Rand:

It is never too late to start on a new road, and it is certainly not too late for you. If there's one thing I have learned by personal experience and by observing the people around me, it's that a person's life actually starts from about 35 on; I mean, the best and the most active part of one's life. Up to that time one merely learns and accumulates experience...
Edited by ~Sophia~
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Peter was not a victim of anybody but his own choices. Keating among many other things, failed to introspect with honesty so he just continued on a wrong path instead of acknowledging to himself: Ok what I am doing is not making me happy. I don't know what the answer is, since I have done everything that I thought would bring me to that state; I don't know what kind of change I have to make but I know I have to change something. Let me take a look at people who are self content in order to learn what makes it possible.

That is possible to anyone, regardless of childhood influences.

I agree with Rand:

I agree, but that was not my point. Likewise, when Peter DID change, it was Roark who told him it was 'too late.' Quite contrary to Miss Rand's quote there.

Edited by Styles2112
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Wasn't this "too late" referring to their friendship?

No. Keating had been painting. He showed some of his paintings to Roark, who then told him it was "too late." I don't think Roark ever considered Peter a friend, though.

As for Rand, when did she finish The Fountainhead and when did she make the "it's never too late" statement? I assume the latter was later on in her life.

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As for Rand, when did she finish The Fountainhead and when did she make the "it's never too late" statement? I assume the latter was later on in her life.
Yes I think it was later. The quote comes from letters.
I don't think Roark ever considered Peter a friend, though.
Well he did not value him or admired but I think to some (perhaps small) degree he did, at least in the beggining. How would you characterize their relationship? He at least would give him some of his time. Edited by ~Sophia~
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Yes I think it was later. The quote comes from letters.Well he did not value him or admired but I think to some (perhaps small) degree he did, at least in the beggining. How would you characterize their relationship? He at least would give him some of his time.

In one situatation, Roarke used Keating to get his project built. Keating had the kind of political know-how to get the project approved and funded. That was puting someone else's skills to use. Otherwise, Roarke maybe was tossing insignificant crumbs to a lesser being. The way one might get rid of bread crumbs by feeding birds.

Bob Kolker

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Yes I think it was later. The quote comes from letters.Well he did not value him or admired but I think to some (perhaps small) degree he did, at least in the beggining. How would you characterize their relationship? He at least would give him some of his time.

I think Roark saw him as more than a casual acquaintance but less than a friend. He was kindly disposed towards Keating, sure, but that may be more a result of familiarity and, perhaps, a measure of professional respect. Remember he roomed at Keating's home and they studied the same thing.

When it came to helping Keating out, Roark's motivation were the buildings. Except the one scene when Keating asks his advice on whether to take a job or a scholarship. For an analysis of that, I recommend Rand's "The Art Of Fiction."

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In one situatation, Roarke used Keating to get his project built. Keating had the kind of political know-how to get the project approved and funded. That was puting someone else's skills to use. Otherwise, Roarke maybe was tossing insignificant crumbs to a lesser being. The way one might get rid of bread crumbs by feeding birds.

I disagree that Roark "used" Keating for anything. I agree however with D'kian that buildings were Roarks motivation and I think he thought Keating wanted to improve, I think he initially saw potential in Peter.

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