The Fountainhead By Ayn Rand Character Analysis Austen Heller

Heller, a man with individualistic beliefs, is a columnist for a dignified paper not at all like Wynand's tabloids. He knows nothing about architecture, but he knows what he likes — and he hires Roark to build a private home. Heller is a man who trusts his own judgment. Roark, after all, is not in private practice when Heller hires him — he is a mere employee in the office of John Erik Snyte. Although Roark as of yet has no professional credentials, Heller hires him on the sole basis of his sketch of the proposed house. The merit of Roark's design is the only credential that Heller requires.

Heller's character is demonstrated by means of several important details. The first is that he will not give a penny to charity. The second is that he gives more money than he can afford to help political prisoners around the globe. Heller refuses to contribute to charity because he believes that this merely furthers financial dependence and is, therefore, not in the recipient's self-interest. His generous aid to political prisoners is consistent with this. Political prisoners have committed no criminal actions. Their only "wrongdoing" is their commitment to political freedom and to free speech in a dictatorship. These are freethinking individuals with the courage to stand up for their ideals though it is unpopular, even dangerous to do so, in their societies. Heller is a consistent supporter of independence and, for this reason, is a friend and ally of Roark.

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About whose sculptures does Roark say: “Your figures are not what men are, but what men could be — and should be.”




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