“Howard Roark laughed” From this powerfully joyous opening line of an improbable novel, Roark answers the basic questions of Ayn Rand’s Objectivist philosophy. In the words of the author, that probably is the reason behind the novel –“It had to be said: the world is perishing from an orgy of self-sacrifice”.
Rand’s Roark embodies the kind of man everyone wants to be but finds it impossible. He is the perfect antithesis to the popular human species that moulds itself to societal wants. Roark on the other hand is a product of his choices and not a result of his upbringing (we are never introduced to his family), his friends (he didn’t have any), or societal necessities or religious training (Roark never found them important).
He lives on his convictions and his integrity – which he shows to his designs and holds them in more respect than the wealth, fame and success that those designs may bring. But he is not a hypocrite….. A very difficult combination possible only in fictious characters.
The essence of Howard’s life can be understood by his speech at the court: “The creator stands on his own judgment. The parasite follows the opinions of others. The creator thinks the parasite copies. The creator produces, the parasite loots. The creator’s concern is the conquest of nature – the parasite’s concern is the conquest of men. The creator requires independence, he neither serves nor rules. He deals with men by free exchange and voluntary choice. The parasite seeks power, he wants to bind all men together in common action and common slavery. He claims that man is only a tool for the use of others. That he must think as they think, act as they act, and live is selfless, joyless servitude to any need but his own. Look at history. Everything thing we have, every great achievement has come from the independent work of some independent mind. Every horror and destruction came from attempts to force men into a herd of brainless, soulless robots. Without personal rights, without personal ambition, without will, hope, or dignity. It is an ancient conflict. It has another name: the individual against the collective. “
Years after this book is written, Howard Roark is still an improbable dream most humans look up to achieving. The good point is many still believe if not achieve, that moral virtue enhances practical success, doesn’t hinder.