Tag Archives: Fountainhead

Timeless Characters And Their Names In Books

I was wondering why some characters and their names in the books become so famous and why some of them are completely forgotten even though the book itself may be quite famous. In some cases the title of the book itself makes the name of the character very famous like Harry Potter or Eragon but in other cases it is the strength of the character that makes it famous like Howard Roark in Fountainhead. But there are other books where you will find it very difficult to remember the name of the character. As an example, I do not remember the name of main character in Five Point Someone or Love Story. I guess it has also to do with the narrative style of the story as well. If the story is written in first person the name is used less often making it less memorable.

Is it necessary for the name of the character to reflect the nature? I guess not. I wonder how J. K. Rowling decided on Harry or Hermione or Ron. She has given lot of thought while deciding names of spells but she seemed to have picked up really common names for her main characters. Even the Bella of Twilight is a very common name. On the other hand, some books come up with very uncommon names like Eragon. Something that you have never heard of. If the name is so common, do we still start relating that name with the type of character if that character becomes famous. Will we think of very intelligent and sharp girl if we meet some real life Hermione?

There is another aspect of naming that I have found very amusing. When books are translated from other languages to English, the native names are still taken in and then it becomes difficult to remember those names like it happened with me while reading War and Peace. I guess many non-Indians will find difficult to remember names if they were to read Mahabharata in English.

I guess the naming of characters is a complicated process in the minds of author and mostly they also do not realize how it can turn around depending upon the success of that book.

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Ayn Rand’s Fountainhead

I think writing about Ayn Rand is the most difficult things. But let me make a try. I was introduced to this book by friend in college. I read first few pages and then left it. I could not go through first 10 pages in multiple tries that I made. But then one day I picked it up and read it till Howard Roark goes to Henry Cameron. Once I read the passage where Cameron is angry at Roark for coming to him for work and at the same time threaten him if he goes anywhere else; I was hooked. This was the point where my relationship with Ayn Rand’s work truly began. I read through the book and after that I have read multiple times both Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged. I will cover about Atlas Shrugged some other time.

At a top-level, Fountainhead is a love story of a struggling architect and a daughter of big builder and the fight of Roark to make his identity and to eventually win back Dominique. But of course, that does not describe the book at all. The book is about integrity of thought and action. Through a very complicated plot involving various characters Ayn Rand goes on to show that you cannot have corruption of thought and action. You cannot achieve right ends with wrong means. And most importantly, nobody lives for others. Human beings are selfish and their first job is to live for themselves and their thoughts and not for others. Whenever human beings try to pretend that they are living for others or sacrificing themselves for others, they actually end up making mockery of themselves resulting in corruption of society and world in general.

It is better to accept the selfishness as the essential trait of human beings and then get guided by it. Sometimes I have had arguments with friends who say how I can agree with selfishness. If we are so selfish then what will happen to world. We will never help each other. People will end up killing each other. I completely disagree on this. Selfishness does not mean that I will not help others. It just means that when I do help, I do it for my own sake. I do it because I expect something in return, I do it to get peace of mind, I do it to feel happy, I do it to please God, I do it to get better afterlife. My reasons could be many but all of them are very selfish. Charity is biggest selfish act that human beings perform. I can go on and on writing about this but I guess I will stop myself.

Beyond the philosophy of selfishness and individualism, Fountainhead is also a great story. The characterization is flawless. The way she has written about Howard or Dominique or Toohey or Peter or Gail; they are all unique characters central to the theme and they play their role perfectly. I did not see any disconnect between characters from beginning to end. It also portrays the life of American city and architecture as it happened during that time. It is a masterpiece of work in all ways. Some people say that if you read Ayn Rand, you will either become a fan or you will hate her. There is no third option. What it means is that she will touch you. If you resonate with her thoughts you will become a fan.

Another aspect of the book is about love between various characters. Whether it is love between Peter and Toohey’s daughter or between Howard and Dominique or how Gail comes into picture; it is always intense and thought-provoking. This love does not exist on its own. It is the extension of characters themselves and their highest achievement in life.

Sometime back I watched the movie adaptation of the book and I was so much disappointed. I guess it is better to leave some books as they are and not try them to convert them to movies.

I know I have not done full justice to writing about Fountainhead. I will come back to this later sometime.

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