Sunday, January 31, 2010

Fountainhead guiding questions part 1 and 2

Part 1

1 Keating goes to work for Guy Francon, the most successful and prestigious architect in the country. What are the methods by which Francon has achieved commercial success? Does he have anything in common with Keating? In what ways do they both differ from Roark?

2 Roark gains employment with Henry Cameron. Cameron, though a genius, is a commercial failure. Why has society rejected his work? Why does Roark nevertheless revere him? What qualities do Roark and Cameron share in common? What is the fundamental difference between them and Francon and Keating?

3 Citing specifics from the story, describe the means by which Keating seeks to rise to the top of Francon's firm? Explain the meaning of Keating's methods. Why do they work at Francon's? Would Keating's methods work similarly well at Cameron's? Why?

4 Though Keating often leaves Catherine Halsey waiting weeks for him to call, the author makes it clear that Catherine is special to him. How does the author show Keating's love for Catherine? In contrast to Keating's motive for pursuing his other values (in work, for e.g.), what personal significance does his relationship with Catherine have? What fate will befall Peter if he betrays his love for her?

5 The design of the Cosmo-Slotnick Building establishes Keating's fame. What is the nature of Keating's relationship with Roark at this point in the story? Why does Keating both approach him for advice and help and take pleasure in making him perform menial tasks while an employee at Francon's? Why does Keating feel a need to degrade the man who is his meal ticket?

6 Cameron and Roark, though brilliant designers, get few commissions. At one point, Cameron urges Roark to surrender his principles and design conventionally. Given that Cameron himself neither did nor would do such a thing, what is the meaning of that scene? What does Ayn Rand stress about the price paid by great creative thinkers in a society that does not recognize the merit of their new ideas?

7 Austen Heller hires Roark to build a private home, giving him his first commission. What qualities does Heller possess that enable him to recognize the merit of Roark's work when virtually the entire society does not? Despite the professional differences between Heller and Roark's other supporters, e.g., Mike, Mallory, Enright, et. al., what fundamental attribute do they share in common? What point does the author make regarding the ability to recognize genius?

8 The character of Dominique Francon is introduced in this section. Dominique criticizes the work of her own father in her newspaper column and recognizes the fraudulent nature of Keating's work and character, though many admire him. What does Ayn Rand thereby show the reader about Dominique? Why is this important for the reader's ability to understand her coming relationship with Roark?

9 Despite extreme poverty, Roark refuses the lucrative commission for the Manhattan Bank Building rather than permit the adulteration of his design. When the Board asserts that he is "fanatical and selfless," Roark responds that his action was "the most selfish thing you've ever seen a man do." Given that Roark has just turned down a major commission in order to protect the integrity of his design, what is "selfish" about this? What is Ayn Rand's view of "selfishness" and "selflessness"? Contrast her view to that of Christianity and of Socialism.

10 Compare Howard Roark and Lois Cook. Are they both individualists? Why or why not?

Part 2

1. At the granite quarry, Dominique is deeply attracted to the red-headed worker who stares at her insolently. She pursues him aggressively, but resists him in the moment of her triumph. Given that Dominique is eager to make love to Roark, why does she physically resist? Ayn Rand once stated regarding this scene that, if it is rape, “ then it is rape by engraved invitation.” What does she mean? Is this actually rape, i.e., is Dominique an unwilling victim?

2. Though strongly attracted to Roark, Dominique both pursues and fights him. Is this inner conflict regarding her love representative of some deeper aspect of her character? How does this ambivalence relate to her destruction of the Greek statuette that she loves? To joining forces with Ellsworth Toohey in an effort to wreck Roark’s career? To refusing to pursue a serious career in spite of her great intelligence? Are Dominique’s motives for thwarting Roark the same as Toohey’s?

3. At this point of Roark’s career he is hired by Roger Enright, Anthony Cord and Kent Lansing to construct major buildings. What kind of men are Enright, Cord and Lansing? Do they share some fundamental characteristic in common with each other and with Austen Heller? What does Lansing mean when he tells Roark that “ the shortest distance between two points is not a straight line--it’s a middleman?"

4. At Kiki Holcolmbe’s party, Keating gives advice to Roark. He says: “ Always be what people want you to be.” What is the meaning of such a statement? Why does Keating believe this? What does such an approach to life reveal about the soul of Keating and of people like him?

5. At the same party, Dominique thinks of Roark’s as “ the face of a god.” What is she responding to in Roark? In seeing such beauty in Roark’s face, an evaluation not shared by the rest of society, what does Dominique reveal about her own soul?

6. Dominique begins to write about Roark’s buildings in her column. She words them in such a way as to give the appearance of criticism while actually offering extravagant praise. Why does she hope that Roark’s buildings will be destroyed in a future air raid? What is her view of human society, and of the possibility of great men succeeding in it?

7. Toohey convinces Hopton Stoddard to hire Roark to build the Stoddard Temple. What is Toohey’s purpose? Why does he seek to brand Roark an enemy of religion? What is Toohey’s deeper reason for attempting to end Roark’s career?

8. Though Dominique testifies for the plaintiff at the Stoddard Temple trial, she praises the building and criticizes both Toohey and society. Why does she want the building torn down? How do her motives differ from Toohey’s? In what way is the trial Dominique’s worst nightmare come true?

9. Roark hires Mallory to do the sculpture for the Temple, but Mallory, despite his youth, is already bitter and disillusioned. What is the cause of Mallory’s nascent cynicism? What does Roark do that helps Mallory overcome his disillusionment? Are there similarities between Mallory’s early career and the life of Henry Cameron?

10. After the trial, Dominique accepts Keating’s earlier proposal and marries him. Given her undying love for the integrity of Roark’s buildings and person, and her recognition that Keating is the antithesis of everything she reveres, it is appropriate to ask what Dominique seeks in such a marriage. For what purpose does she marry the man she considers society’s most despicable representative?

At the end of Part Two, Roark’s career is again at low ebb and it appears that Toohey’s scheming has been successful. Toohey seeks him out to ask what Roark thinks of him. What does this question reveal about Toohey’s soul? Roark answers in simple honesty that he does not think of him. What does such an answer reveal about Roark’s soul? These two characters represent the fundamental antipodes in the universe of the novel. What is the primary difference between them?

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