Study Guide

The Fountainhead Language and Communication

By Ayn Rand

Language and Communication

In The Fountainhead, Roark's communication style is blunt. He's a straight-shooter. But other characters speak in roundabout ways and downplay what they are saying, often with the help of the media. For example, Toohey rambles on about things like charity and selflessness (which sound nice), but his underlying meaning turns out to be sinister. The Banner's anti-Roark pieces, spearheaded by Toohey, are often couched in terms of "the common good" in order to both justify and soften the attacks against Roark.

Toohey's manipulation of language mimics the way a lot of the dictators in the 1930s (Hitler, Stalin, Mussolini) utilized media in order to gain power. Rand opposed any sort of collective politics, and she questions the use of language and communication in order to explore the evil of people who manipulate popular opinion.

Questions About Language and Communication

  1. We often get descriptions of Toohey speaking rather than getting Toohey's actual words. How are scenes where we hear other people's reactions to Toohey significant, and why might the narrative include scenes like this?
  2. Do the characters in this novel speak in a realistic way? How are the characters' speaking styles significant in this novel?
  3. Is verbal communication and speech an important part of Dominique and Roark's relationship, or do they rely more on non-verbal forms of communication?
  4. How do conversations and shared ideas play a role in Wynand and Roark's friendship?

Chew on This

Communication is often seen as a sort of terrifying power in the novel, whether it's manipulative (Toohey's communication tactics) or blunt (Roark's communication tactics).

Rand portrays journalists as people who rarely say what they really mean, and often deliberately confuse the public.