The Fountainhead

by: Ayn Rand

Important Quotations Explained

Quotes Important Quotations Explained

Quote 4

Howard, I’m a parasite. I’ve been a parasite all my life . . . I have fed on you and all the men like you who lived before we were born. . . . if they hadn’t existed I wouldn’t have known how to put stone to stone. . . . I have taken that which was not mine and given nothing in return.

Peter Keating admits his failing to Howard Roark in Chapter 8 of the novel’s final book. Roark calls men like Keating “second-handers” because they do not create original work, but steal the work of others. After years of chasing fame and money, Keating finally looks inside his soul and sees the pointlessness of his existence. Too late, Keating tries to save himself by admitting his failure and humbly asking Roark for help. The passage employs ruthless images to show the fallacy of Keating’s life. Keating describes himself as a “parasite,” something less than human. He fed on Roark pointlessly, failing to acquire his life force. Keating is exhausted now, while Roark thrives. Keating bares his soul in this monologue as Roark and Toohey do in their own monologues. Together, the three men voice Rand’s worldview.