Study Guide

The Fountainhead Choices

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At the start of Trainspotting, Ewan McGregor's character goes on an epic rant about the acceptable choices we're expected make in life: from picking a career to picking out a shiny TV. In this rant McGregor totally sounds like he's channeling the inner monologue of Peter Keating.

Keating, and pretty much everyone else in The Fountainhead, make the choices that society tells them they're supposed to. He does what society expects him to do. And this bums him out: as a result of his following the directions of the herd, he constantly questions himself.

Roark isn't bummed out. Unlike everyone else in the novel, Roark is never conflicted. For strong individuals (like our boy R), choices are something you make with confidence and without doubt. A choice that leaves you conflicted is the wrong choice, according to Rand.

Questions About Choices

  1. How is Keating's choice between going to work for Francon and going to Paris a character-defining moment for him? And what does it reveal about how people (other than Roark) make decisions?
  2. Does Dominique have similar motivations for marrying Keating and later Wynand, or do her marriage decisions differ?
  3. Keating realizes heĀ wanted to provoke Heyer into having a stroke. How do unconscious choices drive a lot of the action in this novel?
  4. Do we ever get a clear sense of why Keating chooses Dominique over Katie? How does Keating explain it to himself? Does the narrator provide any additional insight into his decision?

Chew on This

Wynand tries to make good choices, but he is ultimately forced to back down. Wynand's efforts count for something though, and he's depicted as a tragic hero figure in the story.

Though Wynand tries, he fails to stand by his good choices and, in the moral laws of the story, is seen as a failure.

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