The Fountainhead Essay Contest - Ayn Rand Institute

About this Award: 

Have you read one of Ayn Rand’s thought-provoking novels? Now’s the time! Enter the Ayn Rand Institute's The Fountainhead essay contest for your chance to win thousands of dollars in scholarship prize money. 



$5,000 (1st place)

$1,250 (2nd prize, 3 awards)

$250 (3rd prize, 5 awards)

$100 (Finalist prizes, 25 awards)

$25 (Semi-finalist prizes, 50 awards)


Number of Awards Available: 




April 27, 2023


Region of Study: 



Level of Study: 

High school


Eligibility : 

The Fountainhead essay contest is open to all high school students worldwide.


Essay Required?: 



Essay Details: 

Select one of the following three topics:


1. 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?

2. 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.

3. 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.


Essay must be no fewer than 800 and no more than 1,600 words in length, double-spaced. Spelling errors and/or written corrections (by anyone) found on the essay will count against the final grade and should be omitted before submission.

One entry per student per contest.


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