Peter Keating as Howard Roark's Foil & Opposite: High School Lesson on "The Fountainhead"

Peter Keating as Howard Roark's Foil & Opposite: High School Lesson on "The Fountainhead"
Page content

Just as Superman had Lex Luther; Spider Man had The Green Goblin; and Batman had the Joker, Rand gives her own “super” heroic character, Howard Roark, his own arch-enemy to battle.

As the novel progress, some people may argue that Roark’s battle is really with the character of Ellsworth Toohey, but from the first pages, it is the character of Peter Keating who has stood in sharpest contrast to all that Roark stands for. He is the anti-Roark, a character designed by Rand to capture all that she feels is wrong with mankind and their seemingly selfless behavior. He is just as much an embodiment of the objectivist philosophy has Roark is, except Keating is the embodiment of all the philosophy strives to destroy.

Roark and Keating, linked together since Part One of the novel could never exist in the pages of the story without one another. They are each other’s foil and it is the essential differences in their nature that move the story to its eventual climatic conclusion. Therefore, when students are reading the novel, it is imperative that they get to know Peter Keating as well as they know Howard Roark, because in order to truly understand all Roark symbolizes, readers also have to understand all that Keating symbolizes as well.

Lesson Procedure:

Use the downloadable power point to introduce the character and have students, while reading, pay careful attention to the relationship between Peter and Catherine. Rand, a benevolent creator of characters, offers Keating a chance to embrace Objectivism by setting up his real love for Catherine. However, we soon learn that he is not wise enough or strong enough to choose who he wants to love and so, becomes a victim of selfless society and by default, and so does she.


Peter Keating Power Point


  • Still from the film The Fountainhead by Warner Bros., 1949.

This post is part of the series: The Fountainhead

“The Fountainhead” was published in 1943 by Ayn Rand. The book is an illustration of Rand’s philosophy which is known as Objectivism. This unit is suitable for High School students and includes downloadable power points and quizzes.

  1. Ayn Rand and Objectivism: An Introduction To “The Fountainhead”
  2. Howard Roark as a Free Thinker: Meeting Rand’s Famous Architect
  3. Peter Keating, Man of the Masses: Meeting the Anti-Roark
  4. Are You An Objectivist? Assessing Student Understanding of “The Fountainhead”