Study Guide

The Fountainhead Power

By Ayn Rand

Power

He stopped, his mouth open, staring at her. He had not intended to say that. He had never allowed himself to think that before. (1.4.92)

There are all kinds of power in this book, many of them unexpected and strange. Here, Katie demonstrates an odd sort of power over Keating by encouraging him to be honest with himself.

Keating felt a warm pleasure; he had influenced the course of a human being, had thrown him off one path and pushed him into another [....] (1.5.10)

Keating starts sounding like a Wynand or a Toohey in training here. All three men love to manipulate and control other people and take pleasure in dominating others. It's notable that Keating hasn't destroyed anyone here though, yet. He merely "pushed" someone into a new direction.

He continued, knowing that he would continue only so long as Roark exhibited no anger, yet wishing desperately to break him down to an explosion. No explosion came. (1.7.87)

Keating and Roark often square off, and Keating never can seem to get the upper hand. The imagery here is interesting too, as two opposite concepts (breaking down and exploding out) are tied together.

The thought followed him, gentle, unstressed, monotonous, at his work, at home, at night: he was a murderer...no, but almost a murderer...almost a murderer...(1.15.44)

The style here really emphasizes Keating's inner distress and shock. The ellipses, short phrases, and repetition of the word murder give us a lot of insight into Keating's traumatized state of mind.

"I'll break you some day, I swear I will, if it's the last thing I do!"
"Keating," said Roark, "why betray so much?" (1.15.118-9)

Keating goes for a Wicked Witch of the West style threat here, but Roark isn't buying it. It's interesting that Roark views Keating's threat towards him as a sad self-revelation.

There was something heavy and colorless about Catherine, and very tired. (2.4.22)

Poor Katie's downfall starts here, as Keating notices how Toohey seems to be draining the life out of her, like some sort of demented vampire.

"We can never really know another person, except by our first glance at him. Because, in that glance, we know everything," (2.6.198)

Toohey defines power for us here, in a roundabout way. While he carries on a lot about controlling and destroying people, the ability to do those things rests in knowledge. Toohey betrays his arrogance here as he seems to claim stellar snap judgment as one of his superpowers.

"I feel that they have no right to minds of their own, that I know best, that I'm the final authority for them." (2.13.87)

Katie is horrified of her own growing arrogance and desire to dominate and boss other people around. The words she use here echo words we hear Toohey use throughout the novel, and help to emphasize just how much Katie is becoming like her uncle.

"Keating, if I could do this [...] I can do anything now [....]" "If you think I'm going to bother you often [....]" "As often or as seldom as you wish, Keating. (2.15.56-8)

This has got to be the most awkward post-sex conversation ever. Dominique seems to be using sex as a test here, and she passes by being able to endure it with Keating. This honeymoon is off to a great start, sheesh.

"When there's no news, make it," was Wynand's order. (3.1.179)

Wynand's ability to control the flow of information is one of the major sources of his power, but as we see later on his power has definite limits.

"Power, Dominique. The only thing I've ever wanted. To know that there's not a man living whom I can't force to do—anything." (3.8.46)

Wynand, unlike other characters, comes right out and says that he only wants power. The way he defines power is very telling though. He, along with Toohey, defines power as the ability to control other people. However, we see both of these men fail in their dominance of others throughout the novel. Power is clearly something else here that they are missing.

"All this power I wanted, reached, and never used [....] Now they'll see what I can do. I'll force them to recognize him as he should be recognized." (4.9.94)

Poor Wynand lives out the whole pride-goeth-before-a-fall thing as he displays way too much confidence in his power. Turns out, Wynand only had power when he was giving others what they wanted, such as tabloid garbage.

"The soul, Keating, is that which can't be ruled. It must be broken. Drive a wedge in, get your fingers on it—and the man is yours." (4.14.91)

Toohey's statement about breaking people's souls is probably the most horrifying thing he says in the novel.