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  • September 2012
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Ayn Rand’s ‘The Fountainhead’, or Summer Reading Assignment Strikes Chord With Teen Blogger

Hi, I’m Henry. Since I was born 16 years ago, my biggest claim to fame has been winning the state geography bee in 2009. I run cross country and track for Seton-La Salle High School. I play trombone in the school’s marching band and am a member of the Mock Trial and Academic Games teams. I like to read the Greeks and Romans, and I love opera.

With school starting again already, I can’t help but look in retrospect at the end of last school year. In particular one event I remember is getting the summer reading assignments from my English teacher last year. I can remember thinking that I was going to hate both books we were assigned–I confess I have an unfortunate tendency to “judge a book by its cover.”

However, my natural prejudices were happily proven wrong by one of the books, namely Ayn Rand’s “The Fountainhead” (the other book, “On the Road”, by Jack Kerouac, unfortunately confirmed my initial fears). As summer continued, and I finished “The Fountainhead”, it became apparent that the thought of Ms. Rand was becoming more relevant politically, and thus I thought it would be a good idea to promote this work of Ms. Rand’s not merely on account of what I considered its very interesting plot, but also in the interests of forming a politically informed and educated citizenry.

Ms. Rand, somewhere in the paraphernalia surrounding the actual text of the novel in the edition I read, said that she did not write “The Fountainhead” for anyone’s edification or education, but merely for the intrinsic value in the story itself. Despite this, I think much of my enjoyment of the book stemmed from her apparently inadvertent philosophical didactics. Her metaphysics were drab and desolate, and her ethics were fascinating if not altogether convincing; her politics, however, were, in my opinion, the shining summit of logic and insight in her system of philosophy.

The story in and of itself is probably an equal or greater reason I enjoyed the book. This was one of the first novels I have read where I am actually irreconcilably divided as to whether or not I like the main characters. Of course, there are some that I decidedly like (e.g., Catherine Halsey) and dislike (e.g., Ellsworth Toohey, Gail Wynand), but the three most important (Howard Roark, Dominique Francon, Peter Keating) are so alternately despicable and sympathetic that I can’t possibly choose sides. In all, I highly recommend “The Fountainhead”, if not to entertain yourself with the story alone, then at least to better understand the claims of those who defend and criticize Ms. Rand’s views.

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