Symbols are objects, characters, figures, or colors used to represent abstract ideas or concepts.
Rand associates granite with Roark’s character. Granite symbolizes his external and internal features. Like the rock, Roark’s face, body, and mind are hard, rare, unchanging, and beautiful. Roark, however, is even stronger than the rock that symbolizes him. In a number of scenes, we see Roark breaking granite or using it for his designs. When Dominique first sees Roark at a granite quarry she wishes the drilling would hurt and destroy Roark, but by the end of the novel, Roark’s ability to shape the granite according to his desires pleases her. The novel believes in the absolute supremacy of man, and consequently it rejoices when man triumphs over nature.
Ice symbolizes Dominique. Rand describes Dominique’s body as fragile and angular. The clothes that Dominique wears either glitter like ice, shine like glass, or are the color of water. Wynand gives Dominique a diamond necklace made to look like loose pieces of ice scattered on her cool skin. Ice also reflects her personality at the beginning of the novel—blank and frigid. Once Roark warms Dominique’s spirit, the associations between her and ice grow infrequent and eventually disappear.
In The Fountainhead, the Banner symbolizes the worst elements of society and mass culture. The Banner reflects and feeds the public’s poor taste. In The Fountainhead only individuals are noble, so anything designed for a group is necessarily ugly, crude, and ignorant. Wynand realizes this fact at the very end of the novel when he tries to make the Banner into an honorable machine and finally sees that the newspaper cannot elevate public opinion to something noble.