novel’s hero, a brilliant architect of absolute integrity. Roark
has friends and colleagues, but relies on himself alone. He is tall,
gaunt, and angular, with gray eyes and distinctive orange hair.
Born to a poor family, Roark supports himself throughout high school and
college by working odd jobs on construction sites. He brings the
same fiery intensity to whatever job he does, whether it is manual
labor or architecture. He loves the beautiful Dominique Francon
with violent passion. He is the novel’s idealization of man, bringing innovative
and joyful buildings to the rest of the world.
in-depth analysis of Howard Roark.
The villain of the novel, and Roark’s antithesis—a
man with a lust for power but no talent. Since his boyhood, Toohey
has despised the achievements of others, and he dedicates himself
to squelching other people’s talents and ambitions. He is a small
and fragile-looking man, but his persuasive voice and knack for
manipulation make him a formidable opponent. He encourages selflessness
and altruism to coax others into submission. His philosophy is a
blend of religion, Fascism and Socialism, and he at times resembles
the Russian dictator Joseph Stalin.
in-depth analysis of Ellsworth Toohey.
Daughter of the prestigious architect Guy Francon,
her fragile appearance, pale gold hair, and gray eyes belie her
capability and bluntness. Dispassionate, cynical, and cold, Dominique
nurses a masochistic streak. Although she loves Roark and his beliefs,
she initially tries to destroy him before the rest of the world
can. Eventually, to punish herself for her behavior, she marries
Peter Keating and then Gail Wynand.
in-depth analysis of Dominique Francon.
ruthless media tycoon who sells his integrity for power. Wynand
comes from New York’s slums and is an entirely self-taught, self-made
man. He had sought power so he could rule the incompetent and corrupt, but
in acquiring wealth he becomes like them. His faith in humanity
is restored when he meets Roark, who is incorruptible, and he becomes
Roark’s great ally and friend before finally betraying him.
in-depth analysis of Gail Wynand.
classmate of Roark’s who lives only for fame and the approval of
others. Keating is good-looking and commercially successful, but
he steals his only original ideas from Roark. In order to rise to
the top, Keating flatters, lies, steals, kills, and even trades
his wife, Dominique, for the opportunity to work on a promising
project. His fall is even more rapid than his rise. He realizes
the error of his ways too late and lives the rest of his life in
in-depth analysis of Peter Keating.
mentor, an intractable and aggressive architect who is in the twilight
of his career at the onset of the novel. Like Roark, Cameron suffers
greatly at the hands of the world because he loves his buildings, but
he does not have Roark’s strength and lives a frustrated and anguished
life. Ruined physically and financially, Cameron dies still fighting
Toohey’s niece and Keating’s on-again, off-again
fiancée. Halsey is not beautiful, but her innocence and sincerity
provide Keating with a refuge from himself. Although Keating loves
Katie, he abandons her, and her uncle Toohey slowly destroys her
father and Keating’s employer and business partner. Francon rises
to fame nearly as swiftly as Keating, but he has no real talent
of his own. Nonetheless, Francon is a fundamentally honest and decent
man, and eventually he finds salvation through his love for his
A gifted but disillusioned sculptor who feels alone
and misunderstood until Roark rescues him from his drunken doldrums.
Mallory’s statues portray a heroic vision of man, but the world
rejects his work. Mallory tries to kill Toohey, whom the artist
blames for the failings of the world. Eventually he regains his
self-confidence through his work on Roark’s buildings.
editor-in-chief. Scarret clings to Wynand out of habit and inertia.
He believes every article and column printed in the Banner
Because Scarret’s beliefs reflect those of the masses, Wynand uses
him to measure public opinion.
forceful and manipulative mother. Mrs. Keating’s preoccupation with
money and success prompt Keating to make all the wrong choices.
Mrs. Keating devoutly believes that financial success is the surest
indicator of a person’s quality.
tough, phenomenally ugly electrician who admires talent in any form.
He instantly recognizes Roark’s ability and becomes a staple on
the construction sites of the buildings Roark designs.
Dean of the architecture school, a staunch traditionalist who frowns
on any deviation from the architectural canon. The Dean believes
everything worthy has already been designed and views Roark as dangerous.
John Erik Snyte
A supposedly progressive architect who is in fact the
ultimate plagiarizer. He has a group of five designers who make
their own version of each design and then puts together all of the
five designs to create the final sketch.