Thoughts on Ayn Rand's The Fountainhead: Part 1

I've known of Ayn Rand for quite a number of years. The first time I can remember her being talked about was by a fellow philosophy student, approximately one year ahead of me, who was a rather big fan of her work. At least one professor got into arguments with this student, as she'd bring up Rand's approach.

In 2002 and 2003 I read We the Living and Anthem, and enjoyed them well enough. Other than a scene in which red blood is on white snow, I can't say I remember all that much about them, but We the Living seemed to be very 1984 ...

Anyways, I picked up The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged, at some point, but never went about reading them. Reading about BioShock 2, having enjoyed the first, made me pick look at The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged, and after some research on which to begin with, I started on the first.

Having just finished Part 1: Peter Keating, I can begin making some notes.

When I first started the book I realized that I didn't care for either of the main characters, at the time being Peter Keating and Howard Roark.

Howard, being the main character, has ideals on what he believes a building should be. From my uneducated perspective, I think he's right. The form of a building should follow it's function. While certain things were necessary in the past, just because they were used does not mean that they still need to be used. Yet, on the other hand, a certain amount of trim isn't too horrid, as long as it's not excessive.

Howard is fairly self-sufficient, but to a fault; he doesn't need most people, so he doesn't bother with them at all.

On the opposite end we have Peter Keating. Peter uses a number of people throughout part one to get to where he wants. Yet, as we know, he doesn't really care that he's in the profession that he's in, just that people, especially his mother, care about his accomplishments. He sees other people as serving a purpose to himself, and sees himself serving others.

As part one concludes, Howard and Peter are moving even further apart. While I still don't care for Peter, I do feel bad for him. He does only what he thinks will please others. Howard, on the other hand, has moved in my eyes from one who only cares about himself, to one who cares about the ideals that he has.

I understand the perspective that Ayn Rand is coming from, in that she seems to believe that the many should not control the one, but the one should not care only about itself. After all, one of the greatest things about man is that we can communicate with one another.

We'll see what Part 2 brings.

Update 5/24/2009: Read part two of this series.