Study Guide

Guy Francon in The Fountainhead

Guy Francon

Guy Francon: powerhouse architect and businessman and pathetic old man. Seemingly contradictory, but totally true.

Francon used to be pretty hardcore: his firm was the best in the city, and he was a world-famous architect. But he had been coasting for years on his reputation by the time the manipulative upstart Peter Keating arrives on the scene and is showing signs of wear and tear.

Francon is firmly entrenched in a screwed up system that doesn't appreciate Roark and his innovative work, but we don't hate Francon. He's portrayed as tired, behind the times, and guilty of phoning it in:

He made Keating repeat it and wrote it down on a pad, picking a pencil from an array before him, new, many-colored pencils, sharpened to a professional needle point, ready, unused. 

Then he pushed the pad aside, sighed, patted the smooth waves of his hair [....] (1.3.38-9)

Yeah, sighing and patting one's hair aren't exactly the gestures of a man on top of the world.

Francon might be a part of a messed up system, but he isn't a villain. He's just a traditionalist architect and a flawed man who embraces a messed up system. As he grows older, Francon seems to grow tired of playing the game, and he passes the torch to Keating with relief. Francon really redeems himself by offering love and acceptance to his daughter Dominique after she shacks up with Roark. He spends much of the book confused and dismayed by her, but comes around by the novel's conclusion.

Fun fact: a lot of the characters in The Fountainhead are based on actual historical figures, and Francon is no exception. His historical model is a guy named Daniel Burnham, who championed the City Beautiful movement in America. Burnham thought that good architecture could help solve social problems, like crime. He was a big shot in the late 19th century and was known for his classical style. Much like Francon, Burnham's style and philosophy was outdated by the time the 1920s rolled around.