Howard Roark is the protagonist of Ayn Rand’s novel The Fountainhead.
Roark is one of the most genius, fearless, powerful heroes to emerge in American literature in the past hundred years.
Roark works as an architect in New York City in the early 20th century. In his work, he displays a stoic and unwavering commitment to his artistic and technical ideals, and he creates massive controversy as a result. Regardless of the hatred he receives for blazing his own path and refusing to conform to social and artistic norms, he remains convicted in his ideals.
He has disdain for cowardice, conformity, and the ordinary man’s decision to bend and break under the pressure of critical judgment.
Roark also manages to catch the eye of Dominique Francon, one of the most beautiful and intelligent women in the world. Similar to Roark, Dominique is a woman that has disdain for the cowardice and subservience that most men in her day exhibit, and as a result, she finds herself attracted to no one – until she meets Roark.
Because of these qualities, Dominique is a dominant woman, typically in control of every social situation she finds herself in. In her love life, she’s always aloof and completely uninterested in every man she meets – no men impress her. However, when she meets Roark, Dominique finds herself helplessly attracted to Howard Roark because of his intense, his raw masculinity, and his refusal to be enslaved by the pathetic men and opinions of their society.
Despite being attracted to Roark, she also despises Roark – arguably because he makes her feel out of control. Throughout the story, she seeks to discover and exploit any weakness she can find within him – so that she can renounce her attraction to him, so that she can test the limits of his strength, and (in my opinion) so that she can continually sharpen the sword of his spirit.
Of course, she doesn’t find any weaknesses. Ayn Rand made Roark emotionally, intellectually, and artistically invincible. As far as heroes go, Roark represents an ultimate ideal.
I learned a ton about myself while reading this novel. Viewing Roark’s unwavering commitment to his ideals gave me a lot of confidence and reassurance in the side of myself that judges the world as not all that it could be.
In my own life, many weaker men have hated or resented me for relentlessly pursuing my own ideals – and succeeding at making significant progress towards them.
I’ve felt guilty for not acquiescing to the weakness of the world or the men around me. I’ve allowed myself to feel guilty for outshining them. Ultimately, Roark’s character reminded me of the genius and strength within me.
As an artist and an intellectual that holds extremely radical ideas that absolutely do not seem to fit within the politically correct, sexually neutered, and sterilized cultural context I’ve found myself within, I was incredibly inspired by Rand’s character descriptions of Roark, his dealings with other characters, and his romance with Dominique Francon (what a sexually intense relationship the two of them have – wow).
This is a practice I believe all men should engage in regularly. It will improve every aspect of their lives, and the world at large. The world is full of too many weakened, sterilized, impotent men that are afraid to boldly stick their chests out and assert their excellence. We need men like that! Women want men like that! As a man, I want to be surrounded by men like that!
I believe every man ought to read this book, so that he can be reminded of the strength and genius within himself, too.
This is a practice I believe all men should engage in regularly.
I’ll be posting some of my favorite quotes from Roark and about Roark in future posts.