Revolves around the dynamic protagonist Howard Roark, who defies collectivism with his own brand of philosophy and architecture. He takes a firm stand against worshipping tradition and embraces his own modern art forms. Roark gets expelled from architecture school owing to his non-adherence to conventional guidelines. Roark starkly defies history in favor of a more utilitarian outlook. He highlights materials, location and purpose as the three pillars of architecture.
Roark ultimately works for disgraced architectural legend Henry Cameron in New York. At the same time, The Fountainhead also tells the story of Peter Keating, a perfect foil to Roark. Keating holds a job at the renowned Francon & Heyer firm, where he eventually lands a partnership on account of his flattery. Roark starts his own office, but finally lands up at a granite quarry owned by Guy Francon. The novel is also the story of Dominique Francon with whom Roark has a physical and emotional battle throughout the novel.
The Fountainhead is an intriguing look at hypocrisy through Roark’s anonymous designs that spur Keating’s success. Eventually Gail Wynand becomes Roark’s friend and patron. Roark even goes to trial for dynamiting a building, the designs of which were changed.
The manuscript of The Fountainhead was shunned by twelve publishing houses and when finally published, went on to sell in excess of six and a half million copies globally. It was also the subject of a 1949 film, the screenplay of which was written by Rand.