Howard Roark is the undisputed hero of The Fountainhead, and his story drives the novel. His name contains the words “hard” and “roar,” both of which accurately describe his tough, determined character. Roark’s buildings suggest his personality, for like Roark they are innovative and austere. Roark never compromises or deviates from his principles. Rand holds him up as everything that man can and should be. Consequently, Roark does not develop over the course of the novel—the ideal man does not need to change. Although Rand despised religion, she often describes Roark as if he is a religious figure. Roark does not preach, and he never actively seeks converts, but he inspires absolute devotion and rapture in his followers. Cameron, Mallory, Dominique, and Wynand change their entire belief systems after meeting him. Dominique in particular exhibits a religious passion for Roark, racked by ecstasy and guilt as if inspired by a messiah. Like all Christ figures in literature, Roark’s enemies persecute him. Despite the hatred of the world, Roark lives life as Rand thinks it should be lived.
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