Character Analysis Mike Donnigan


Though a relatively minor figure in the novel, Mike's character dramatizes a significant point in Rand's philosophy. Mike is a construction worker, an electrician, who both admires competence and recognizes Roark's. Their mutual love of construction is the bond that unites them. Mike is not a genius; he is a man of more modest intelligence than Roark. But he knows buildings — and he sees with his own eyes and understands with his own mind. Mike recognizes that the buildings of Guy Francon, Ralston Holcolmbe, and Peter Keating are seriously flawed; the adulation these men receive from society does not alter Mike's judgment. He also recognizes that the buildings of Henry Cameron and Howard Roark are masterpieces, and society's repudiation of them cannot change his mind.

Mike's character shows independence is not a matter of a person's intelligence, but rather, of how he chooses to use it. Ellsworth Toohey possesses greater mindpower than does Mike, but Toohey's mind is employed in an utterly-dependent manner — devoted to flattering, deceiving, and manipulating others in order to control their souls. Mike's mind is not given to other people, but rather, to building. He may not be a genius, but within the scale of his own concerns, Mike is an independent thinker. In his combination of ordinary intelligence and first-handed method, Mike can be thought of as Everyman at his best. His autonomous functioning is not merely the basis of his bond with Roark, but further demonstrates that moral character is not a question of intelligence but of its use.