Cameron is more than Roark's employer and architectural teacher. As mentor, he is the closest thing to a father that Roark has. Cameron is a brilliant and innovative thinker. As a fictional example of an early modern designer who is among the first to build skyscrapers, he is similar to the real-life American architect, Louis Sullivan (1856-1924). Cameron stands for the great innovators rejected by society. His genius is repudiated, and he dies a commercial failure. His struggle against a society closed to his revolutionary ideas is representative of many great freethinkers of history. Socrates, Galileo, Darwin, the Wright brothers, and many more were rejected, even persecuted, for the bold daring of the new truths they presented, and so it is with Cameron. Roark reveres Cameron because of the older man's genius, his independent thinking, and his lifelong crusade for modern architecture, despite the price he must pay.
Further, Cameron, though bitter, is a profoundly benevolent figure in Roark's life. After three years of rejection by faculty members and administrators at Stanton Institute, Roark finds a man who, by one glance at his drawings, recognizes him as a budding genius. Cameron, the crusty curmudgeon, takes Roark into his charge and devotes himself to nurturing the precious talent with which he has been entrusted. Even on his deathbed, Cameron continues to mentor his protégé, instructing him to watch carefully the latest developments of the light metals and plastic industries, exhorting him to discover the new forms of building made possible by the technological advances. Though a commercial failure, Cameron is more than a moral and artistic success. Through the triumph of his (symbolically) adopted son, Roark, he helps ensure the final victory for his architectural principles.