The Fountainhead

by: Ayn Rand

Important Quotations Explained

Quotes Important Quotations Explained

Quote 5

Tell man that he must live for others. . . . Not a single one of them has ever achieved it and not a single one ever will. His every living impulse screams against it. But don’t you see what you accomplish? . . . He’ll obey. . . . Use big vague words. ‘Universal Harmony’—‘Eternal Spirit’— ‘Divine Purpose’—‘Nirvana’—‘Paradise’—‘Racial Supremacy’—‘The Dictatorship of the Proletariat.’

Toohey makes this speech to a terrified Keating in the fourteenth chapter of the last book of The Fountainhead. Here Toohey reveals his true nature for the first and only time. Everything else he says is purposefully empty of real meaning, so only here do we see the sinister inner workings of Toohey’s mind. When Toohey defines “big vague words,” he uses concepts from real-world ideologies and religions. The moment is an unusual one in the novel, for usually Rand writes about a hypothetical, imagined New York, using allegory to reveal the flaws she sees in society. In this passage, however, she steps from the allegorical world into the real world, telling us exactly which groups she abhors, and exactly which groups she means to pillory with her allegory. Rand wants us to condemn every concept the arch-villain Toohey support. He uses the religious phrases “Eternal Spirit,” “Divine Purpose,” “Paradise,” “Nirvana,” and “Universal Harmony,” suggesting Rand’s low opinion of organized religion like Christianity and Buddhism. “Racial Supremacy” and “The Dictatorship of the Proletariat” refer to and condemn, respectively, Nazism and Communism. Rand thought almost all kinds of social engineering restricted individual liberty, and makes this point in the novel by having her arch-villain refer to these catchphrases as his tools.