Monday, July 6, 2009


I'm sure most you must have heard about this book. It was written by AYN RAND in 1943 . It's a classic and after reading the book, I believe it has every right to be.
First of all, AYN RAND is a literary genius. The way the book has been written with not a single paragraph being out of place, is simply amazing. I wasn't bored throughout the book. There were times when the things said became too much for me to take, but I loved every part of it.
The main message the author has wanted to convey is that every human being should not compromise with what they really want. Doing what you want to and making it happen is the first and foremost duty to ourselves and the rest is secondary.

The book goes on to describe the life of 2 people who studied in the same architectural college. On one hand, we have HOWARD ROARK and on the other we have PETER KEATING. Howard was expelled from the college in his third year because of his bold and radical work. He refused to ape from the masters and stuck to what he believed in. That is Howard Roark for you. A man who refused to compromise on what he believed in and was ready to face the consequences of standing against the masses. But one thing that baffled me completely was Roark's ability to be totally unaffected by the crowd. What the world thought of him didn't make a difference to him for he knew what he wanted to do and knew he was going to do it. Now here is some food for many of us are actually totally and completely unaffected by the society? Perhaps a very few or none at all.
Now we come to Peter Keating, the most popular guy in college who passed with flying colours and got a placement in an eminent firm almost immediately after graduation. But Peter was hungry for fame and money. He wanted recognition, not the kind which a human being wants for himself but the kind which a human being wants to impress the society with. That is Peter Keating for you. A man who thoroughly compromised with his morals for the sake of money and empty recognition. Empty because it didn't make him happy deep down and the saddest part is that he refused to acknowledge his unhappiness. In a mad race to be the number one, he compromised with all his needs in life. Thus he ended up as a second hander.

In the words of Howard Roark, there are 2 types of people in the world. The CREATORS and the SECOND HANDERS. The creators are the ones who do what they want to do, not what society wants them to do. All the geniuses of the world have been creators who did not give a damn to what society thought of them. They refused to blindly follow and therefore were tried to be punished by the society in general and why was that? Simply because they were a threat to a society which had never made decisions for itself. They were a threat to the people who compromised with their wishes and ended up being nothing but an empty shell of a human being who had to find happiness in other people's happiness, not inside themselves. Society always has and always will be an obstacle in the path of every independent minded human being simply because they have dared to think different. That is the truth of life, a fact which cannot be ignored. That is the reason this book has been termed as a classic. The truth expressed in this book shall hold true for all time and that is what has made the book eternal.

Now we come to the love story between Dominique Francon and Howard Roark. Now this is the part which was not to my liking. In the act of trying to defy society and stand by Roark, Dominique destroyed quite a few lives. But their love had a strange quality which was not easy to comprehend. The fact remains that although Dominique refused to bow down in the eyes of society, she did just that by marrying twice before finally marrying Roark. She was afraid to see him ruined and thus married someone else. In my eyes atleast, that was an act of cowardice.
In the end, I would like to say that the book conveys a lovely message and gives us a lot of food for thought. It's thought provoking and makes us ask a thousand questions to ourselves. Are we living for others? Are we really doing something we want to? Something we genuinely love? Something which can be ours only? Are we brutally honest with ourselves? Are we living with integrity and honesty or are we just making a damn good show of it?

Well, all these questions crossed my mind. Did it cross yours too?
What I have learned from this book is that there are no half measures in life. If we do something, it should be out of love for that thing and not because society expects us to do it. If you dare to think and dare to achieve, YOU WILL.


Nancy said...

I'm not sure that I agree with Ayn Rand in this book because she put so much emphasis on the individual "getting" what they want, without thought of the collective outcome. Some things I agee with her, such as personal responsibility, and others I think may have contributed to our society here in the US where it is "every man for himself." We have a responsibility for each other, our earth, other countries and their rights. ButI will agree it is a classic.

Great post.

California Girl said...

Hello Deboshree: I have never read Ayn Rand which is funny considering I was an English Lit major emphasis on English. Anyway, you make the story very compelling. I am aware, in a cursory way, of Ayn Rand's belief system and she is enjoying a renaissance right now in the U.S. Probably has to do with the economy and the previous administration. Not sure. But that was a nicely written critique.