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Virtue in The Fountainhead

Virtue in The Fountainhead

Virtue in The Fountainhead


As y’all probably know from my past few “Interesting Articles,” I’m a huge fan of Forbes. It’s  a great site with some very interesting articles. Today there was one that I found interesting. It is called “Ayn Rand’s “The Fountainhead” Shows Us That There’s More to Life Than Money” and was written by Art Carten.


The article shows how Ayn Rand uses the actions of Roark, the protagonist, to show virtue in The Fountainhead. Instead of being interested only in money, Roark is more committed to his vision.

He wants to be the best architect he can be and enact his vision upon the world. He cares little about money and would rather just see his designs be used. That sets him up for conflict with the antagonist, Peter Keating, who is a mediocre sellout that is interested only in money.

Carten uses that conflict and dichotomy to show his interpretation of The FountainheadHe thinks that Rand isn’t trying to say in her works, such as Atlas Shrugged, that money is everything. Instead, she is saying that working towards a vision is everything. What matters is living life well, not how many riches are accumulated during life.

Carten ends the article by imploring the reader to actually try to understand Rand’s works.


I thought this article was great because of how well Carten was able to explain what Rand was actually trying to say in both Atlas Shrugged and The Fountainhead. When she defended “greed,” she wasn’t defending envy. Instead, she was defending the desire to be great. She was defending ambition and the virtue of capitalism.

That desire is a natural human impulse and is what is the driving force behind capitalism. Without it, we would be no better than the socialist countries that are cesspools of envy and violence. America, and other capitalist countries, are great because of capitalism and its driving force- greed.

Carten shows how Ayn Rand is often misunderstood. I really liked that. She is one of my favorite authors, but it is hard to recommend her books because of how upset people get about them. They don’t understand what she means by greed. I, and Carten, believe she means the desire to be great.

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Why is that? Because the protagonists in all of her books give up riches in order to fulfill their goals. They have the ambition that Adam Smith says that people should in his quote on ambition, not blind and corrupting greed.

In Atlas Shrugged, John Galt decides to go on strike to create a just society, and in doing so gives up on worldly riches. Similarly, Roark builds what he thinks is beautiful and disregards people who try to shun him. He is more focused on his vision than on worldly acclaim.

Despite those counter-examples, critics of Rand focus only on what she says about money. Yes, money is an important aspects of her works. But is is not the central focus. Instead, that focus is honor and obtaining honor through living out one’s vision. By reading Carten’s article, you will understand that.


If you like Ayn Rand’s ideas, any of her works, or are interested in learning more about either of those subjects then you should read this article. It is a great one that is both concise and highly informative. Read it, not only is it a great way to understand the concept of virtue in The Fountainhead, but it is also a great way to understand Rand’s other great books and ideas, such as the ones found in The Virtue of Selfishness!

By: Gen Z Conservative