The Fountainhead Short Essay - Answer Key

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1. At the beginning of the novel, Howard Roark stands naked on a granite cliff preparing to dive into the waves below. Describe how this scene sets the stage for the entire novel.

The granite cliff represents the strong will of individualism, while the waves below represent the masses of society that are easily led to crash against individuality. Roark's being naked represents his vulnerability as he dives into the challenges that society presents to him.

2. In what way does Mrs. Keating represent all the obstacles Roark will have to face to be true to himself?

Mrs. Keating is a consummate conformist. She does not approve of Roark's attitude and she compels her son, Peter, into becoming an architect when he really wants to be an artist. Mrs. Keating sees art as a useless career that will not provide Peter with the prestige she feels he needs in life. Her attitude toward Roark is that his independent thinking puts him in the same category as starving artists.

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