Needless to say, the book is not for everyone to read and understand. Some have criticized the size of the book by calling it gigantic, ‘a whale of a book’ but it is thoroughly impactful to the minds of the readers who care to live the story and the reason behind every character’s every action.
Howard Roark was everything an ideal person should be. Independent, self sufficient, the thinker, the originator. Peter Keating was his antonym in his complete existence. He reeked of dependency, the ‘second handers’ doing everything for the sake of others. Earning money because it’ll make him rise in the eyes of the society. Marrying the wrong woman because the people expected him to marry someone they thought was more suited to him. He hated Roark because he worshipped him and what he stood for. Individualism.
People who preach self sacrifice are the virus of any society, self immolation is the disease. You run the other way when someone spreads the message of doing good for the collective and in turn implies self destruction. When one tells you to value yourself, keep yourself first, you’ll know that person has no expectations from anyone whatsoever. He is whole on his own, never to ask favours, never will do any either. Most of us are scared of this kind of independence.
Humankind is supposed to be valued for its work, its mental prowess not how much charity it does for the society.
This is what the book ultimately tells us. If it requires a service to be done by you, it means someone on the other end is being served. If you sacrifice for others, there’s a master you’re sacrificing for. And then there are the other kind of second handers like Ellsworth Toohey. They are the biggest leech on the planet. They are the ‘noted’ writer, altruist, architect. They appear anywhere and everywhere and they have the masses in their pockets because they preach about self sacrifice which sells big time. But is that what Toohey believed in? No he didnt. He knew he was not an originator, not an individualist. He knew he could never be. Toohey’s kind always has and always will loath Howard’s kind because they know they are the real force to be reckoned with.
There’s so many aspects of this story that I’d like to talk about but it’ll probably take me days. I really felt bad for one character: Gail Wynand and what he could have been. Someone who lost the battle of the spirit. Someone who was a loser in his own eyes. He was the real loser. This was also true in case of Peter Keating but he lived in denial and would probably have lived the rest of his years in denial. It hurts the most when we lose in front of ourselves. Not the society, not others but our own selves.
I loved Ayn Rand’s writing and books like this really teach you something. It’s a book on philosophy if you think but with a story so good you might almost miss the point if you’re not careful of what you’re reading. Go ahead and get a copy of this old classic for yourselves and hope that you don’t miss the point of it.