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Do those two books take place within the same "universe?" For example, many of William Faulkner's books feature recurring characters, with each story focusing on one in particular. They all take place in its own world. Also, Mark Twain's stories took place in the same universe as well, featuring Huck Finn and Tom Sawyer, in two different books. Is The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged a part of the same universe? Is Howard Roark living in the same world as John Galt?

asked May 29 '12 at 00:02

Collin1's gravatar image


edited May 29 '12 at 00:28

Greg%20Perkins's gravatar image

Greg Perkins ♦♦

There are certainly some strong similarities between The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged, but also many fundamental differences. In The Art of Fiction, pp. 17-18, Ayn Rand describes the themes as follows:

The theme of The Fountainhead is: individualism and collectivism, not in politics, but in man's soul. I show the effects of each principle on men's character by presenting the struggle of a creative architect against the society of his time.


The theme of Atlas Shrugged is: the crucial value of the human mind. The plot-theme is: the mind on strike. The latter names an action—the central action to which all the other events of the story are related. It, therefore, is the plot-theme.

While Atlas dramatizes individualism and collectivism in politics, i.e., on the scale of a nation, The Fountainhead dramatizes it in man's soul. While Atlas dramatizes the mind on strike, The Fountainhead dramatizes perseverence in the face of opposition. Actually, Atlas dramatizes such perseverence, also, and it become a major plot conflict between the strikers and the "scabs." The Fountainhead is focused on how individualism and collectivism affect men's character, while Atlas shows how those factors affect a nation's politics as well as its underlying ethics. The Fountainhead focuses more on independence as the most important virtue, whereas Atlas identifies the rational mind as the most important basis of all of man's virtues.

One probably could describe Roark and Galt as living in the same world, but with Roark not yet understanding it as fully as Galt did. Roark is more like Dagny in that respect. Other key characters in The Fountainhead, especially Dominique, seem to have no direct counterparts in the world of Atlas.

In "About the Author" at the end of Atlas, Ayn Rand offers the following brief comparison:

To all the readers who discovered The Fountainhead and asked me many questions about the wider application of its ideas, I want to say that I am answering these questions in the present novel and that The Fountainhead was only an overture to ATLAS SHRUGGED.

answered May 30 '12 at 01:50

Ideas%20for%20Life's gravatar image

Ideas for Life ♦

edited May 30 '12 at 01:54

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Asked: May 29 '12 at 00:02

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Last updated: May 30 '12 at 01:54