On ‘The Fountainhead’: Why is authenticity so difficult for some people?

Acharya Prashant
4 min readOct 9, 2020

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

Question: Acharya Ji, Pranaam! While reading the first chapter of ‘The Fountainhead’, I found that the character Peter Keating shows us our reality. But in front of Howard Roark Peter can’t hide his falsities, though he tries his best to.

Even though Peter gets a glimpse of what his reality is, why does he continue his ways? Why is the renunciation of the false so hard to him?

Acharya Prashant:

It’s not about being hard or easy, it’s a choice.

If you want to renounce the false, it gets renounced.

It is neither easy nor difficult.

It happens.

And if you don’t want to renounce it, it doesn’t get renounced.

It is neither easy nor difficult.

‘Easy’ and ‘difficult’ come in the context of an external obstacle. There is no external obstacle, there is just a choice.

If I want to lift this (lifting a glass of water kept on the table), it is easy. If I want to lift this (lifting the table), it is difficult because the obstacle is external. If it is external, I will call this ‘easy’ or ‘difficult’, but in these matters, it is just a choice. There is no external challenge. You are the one making choice about yourself — it is neither easy nor difficult. It’s just a ‘Yes’, or ‘No’. Say, “Yes,” it’s done. Say, “No,” it’s not done.

If I say, “There is a reason,” then Peter Keating (one of the characters in Ayn Rand’s ‘The Fountainhead’) is justified. Peter Keating will say, “Oh, it was very difficult for me to make the right choice. It was relatively easier for Roark (the protagonist in Ayn Rand’s ‘The Fountainhead’) to make the right choice.”

And then Peter Keating will act like a victim.

“What do I do? I am a victim of my situations. I didn’t get the right people, I didn’t get the right mother, so it was very difficult for me, you see. Roark, well it is so easy for him, he had no parents.”

This ‘easy’ and ‘difficult’ things give rise to the victim mentality. There are no victims…