Study Guide

Dominique Francon in The Fountainhead

By Ayn Rand

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Dominique Francon

Ice Princess

Dominique sounds like she'd be totally comfortable on a blazing August afternoon: the words that describe her most often are "cold" and "icy." No, she's not Elsa from Frozen. No, she's not a vampire. Ayn Rand just wants us to know (over and over again) how freaking cool she is. She's so cool that everything she touches gets frostbite:

She came to his room from a party, wearing an evening gown expensive and fragile like a coating of ice over her body [....] (2.8.100)

Oh my gosh, Rand, let it go. We get it.

Dominique is reminiscent of the kind of blonde favored by Alfred Hitchcock. Dominique, like all "Hitchcock blondes" is cool, detached, cynical, and also not nearly as "pure" as she appears to be at first glance. Hitchcock liked putting his unflappable blondes into extreme situations and watching them unravel… and Dominique definitely gets into extreme situations.

On Her Own

The difference between Dominique and her flaxen-haired Hitchcock sisters is that she puts herself into extreme situations as a way to test herself. There are no demented birds or Norman Bates out to get Dominique. Instead, she seeks out situations that will cause her pain in a sort of protest against a world she disagrees with.

Dominique's deal is this: she surrounds herself with things that she hates because she can't stand the idea that she will lose the things that she loves. And so, when she falls in love with Roark, she decides to marry first Keating and then Gail because she feels more secure in situations that makes her feel bitter (being married to Keating especially was no cakewalk) than risk seeing her happiness destroyed.

Happily Ever After

Of course, by the end of the novel, Roark's artistic success proves that—hooray—good things don't necessarily need to be destroyed. This frees up Dominique to live happily ever after with her red-headed Prince Charming.

All of Dominique's actions revolve around the theme of fear (for more on that, check out our section on "Themes"). Dominique may act poised and collected, but deep down she's really afraid of things. And it takes nearly the entire novel before she learns to let go of her fear and live the way she wants to. It's only late in the game that she's able to say things like this:

"Howard, do you remember that I was afraid to share you with lunch wagons and strangers' windows? now I'm not afraid to have this past night smeared all over their newspapers. My darling, do you see why I'm happy and why I'm free?" (4.16.65)

While she's entrenched in fear, Dominique not only punishes herself but also those around her, particularly the men she becomes involved with. In learning to be true to herself, she is also able to stop hurting people. During Dominique's journey to self-discovery (and toward Roark's way of living) she progresses romantically from the person who completely embraces the system—Keating—to a man who kind of challenges it—Wynand—to the true individualist—Roark. Overall, Dominique's progression sort of guides the reader through the book's progression of ideas.

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