The Fountainhead Essay Contest

Welcome to your student dashboard for this year’s contest!

Here you will be able to start a new application for the contest, view any of your existing saved or submitted entries, and even request a free copy of The Fountainhead if you don’t already have access to the book. Questions? Simply write to us at We’re here to help!

April, 2024

Entry Deadline


Top Prize


Prizes Available

Grades 8-12


Our Grading Criteria

Essays are judged on whether the student is able to justify and argue for his or her view—not on whether the Institute agrees with the view the student expresses. Our graders look for writing that is clear, articulate, and logically organized. Essays should stay on topic, address all parts of the selected prompt, and interrelate the ideas and events in the novel. Winning essays must demonstrate an outstanding grasp of the philosophic meaning of The Fountainhead.

Available Essay Topics

Mallory says the following about Roark: “You know how people long to be eternal. But they die with every day that passes. . . . They change, they deny, they contradict—and they call it growth. . . . How do they expect a permanence which they have never held for a single moment? But Howard—one can imagine him existing forever.” Give examples of characters in the novel who change in the way Mallory suggests. In what respects is Roark unchanging through the book? Are there any respects in which his character develops? How do these issues of characterization relate to the theme of the novel?

Toohey tells Keating the following: “I’m the most selfless man you’ve ever known. I have less independence than you, whom I just forced to sell your soul.” Drawing on Toohey’s own explanation and on his actions in the story, explain your understanding of what Toohey means by this. Does the author agree with Toohey’s assessment of his own motivation? Do you? Explain your answers.

In The Fountainhead, we can see how Roark is guided by his own creative vision, whether in the way he develops his skills as an architect, in the terms on which he’ll work for employers, or in the standards he uses for accepting or rejecting new clients. Judging from examples of these aspects of his decisions and actions, do you think he would be a supporter or opponent of free-market capitalism? Explain your answer, being sure to define relevant terms.

Copyright © 1985 – 2024 The Ayn Rand Institute (ARI). Reproduction of content and images in whole or in part is prohibited. All rights reserved. ARI is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. Contributions to ARI in the United States are tax-exempt to the extent provided by law. Objectivist Conferences (OCON), Ayn Rand Conference (ARC), Ayn Rand University (ARU) and the Ayn Rand Institute eStore are operated by ARI. Payments to OCON, ARC, ARU or the Ayn Rand Institute eStore do not qualify as tax-deductible contributions to the Ayn Rand Institute. AYN RAND, AYN RAND INSTITUTE, ARI, AYN RAND UNIVERSITY and the AYN RAND device are trademarks of the Ayn Rand Institute. All rights reserved.