On ‘The Fountainhead’: An innocent mind can be fooled, but never hurt

Acharya Prashant
5 min readJan 24, 2022

The following excerpt is from a samvaad (dialogue) session with Acharya Prashant.

Conversation between Roark and Hopton Stoddard at the end of which Roark agrees to raise the Stoddard Temple: “Roark rubbed the back of his hand against his eyes, helplessly. It was not possible. It simply was not possible. That could not be what the man wanted; not that man. It seemed horrible to hear him say that.”

“Mr. Stoddard, I’m afraid you’ve made a mistake,” he said, his voice slow and tired. “I don’t think I’m the man you want. I don’t think it would be right for me to undertake it. I don’t believe in God.”

He was astonished to see Hopton Stoddard’s expression of delight and triumph. Hopton Stoddard glowed in appreciation — in appreciation of the clairvoyant wisdom of Ellsworth Toohey who was always right. He drew himself up with new confidence, and he said firmly, for the first time in the tone of an old man addressing a youth, wise and gently patronizing: “That doesn’t matter. You’re a profoundly religious man, Mr. Roark -in your own way. I can see that in your buildings.” He wondered why Roark stared at him like that, without moving, for such a long time. “That’s true,” said Roark. It was almost a whisper.”

~ The Fountainhead, by Ayn Rand

Questioner (Q): Dear Acharya Ji Pranam. My question is, ‘how did Roark fall for this trick? His instincts were telling him something was wrong, but he still went on and believed Stoddard’s rehearsed words. Did Toohey…