Study Guide

The Fountainhead Happiness

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The Fountainhead's view of happiness is serious business: it has more to do with the U.S. Constitution than sunshine and daisies. Remember that whole "pursuit of happiness" bit in the Constitution's preamble? Ayn Rand certainly does, and she stakes her entire individualist philosophy around that right. People have a right to make themselves happy. Individual happiness isn't seen as selfish in Rand's worldview.

Roark pursues his own personal happiness through his work, even though he constantly offends and irritates and upsets other people. Toohey, meanwhile, encourages everyone around him to give up their own happiness for the sake of others. That whole self-sacrificing routine doesn't do people like Katie any favors, and it's an idea that Rand strongly disapproved of. The character who really sums up the book's take on happiness is probably Dominique, oddly enough. After spending years being miserable, she finally tells society to take a flying leap and embraces her own (scandalous) happiness with Roark.

Questions About Happiness

  1. At the start of the novel, Katie seems content. What is driving Katie's character and helping her to remain happy?
  2. Why does Dominique refuse to be happy? What do her views on happiness tell us about her character?
  3. How does Roark define happiness? Does the novel overall seem to support his view of happiness?
  4. Why is Wynand so unhappy when we first meet him, and he does he ever manage to become truly happy?

Chew on This

Within the book's philosophical system, people like Keating and Wynand are doomed to be unhappy because they value the wrong things in life.

Though she was destined to be with Roark, Dominique was actually happy to some extent with Wynand, since they had a lot in common personally and could identify with each other's struggles.

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