Dominique Francon – a puzzle, an intrigue

fountainhead

When I first read this book in college the heroine puzzled me no end. She was rich, beautiful and smart, strong and powerful and very idealistic. Yet her character seemed skewed and motivated by something I couldn’t quite understand. Why would a woman love a man yet work against him? Why would she go ahead and marry his arch rival? Why would she actively campaign for this husband whom she despises? Why would she take the extreme step of sleeping with another man to bag a project for this husband?

Dominique Francon, the female protagonist of Ayn Rand’s Fountainhead made no sense. Brought up on a staple of relatively straightforward romances, I didn’t quite take to her.

When I re-read the book a few years later I looked at her differently and I swung over to the other side, completely wowed by her, amazed by the way her thought process functioned. Now, many years later, I’m doing a rethink yet again and I cannot decide what I think of her. One thing’s for sure she is one of the most intriguing characters I’ve come across.

Just like its heroine, Fountainhead remains a book to be loved or hated even today over 70 years since it was first published. It needs to be read and re-read.

Dominique the ultimate cynic

On the face of it Dominique appears a vacuous socialite who seems to do strange, even vicious things, simply for her entertainment. Her mind seems to work in perverse ways. However, she begins to make sense. She shuns, even destroys, all that she truly loves because she cannot see it destroyed by the world, which she is certain would happen sooner rather than later. That’s what she does, or tries to do, with Howard Roark, the protagonist (he is an architect who refuses to compromise his creativity). Dominique puts in all she has to end his career, to kill his spirit, to rid him of his principles. Yet, she wants to fail, desperately so, because that would be a victory of all that was good against all odds. Convoluted? Huh?

And she changes!

What I like most about Dominique is that she allows no one to make up her mind for her. She’s a stubborn woman but she isn’t blinded by it. To be able to observe and evaluate happenings around you in a balanced manner and to change your worldview based on it – how many people are capable of that? As she watches people who she despises, fail, she begins to believe that good does triumph over evil. I loved that bit of positivity at the end, the happily ever after, that comes to her life.

She was panned by critics as anti-feminist but I think she was quite her own woman. What do you think of her? Who are your favourite female characters? I’d love it if you share.

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With thanks to ABC Wednesday , the fun alphabetical weekly challenge.

abc 17 (1)

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21 thoughts on “Dominique Francon – a puzzle, an intrigue

  1. nabanita

    I have this book but haven’t read it yet…I think I should pick it up soon and only then perhaps will be able to rest the curiosity about Ayn Rand..Thanks for reminding me with this!

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  2. Soumya Prasad

    I read this years ago and honestly I was intrigued by her character and sound her to be really confused. I fell in love with Howard Roark though.

    I will re-read this soon. Just to check if my thoughts about it change or not.

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    1. Beat About The Book Post author

      I do get what you mean Murthy. I have to admit the first time I read it I did it only because it was such a cult book and everyone seemed to have read it and was talking about it. It was only later that I could actually appreciate the philosophy it talks about.

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  3. Ira PT

    I have a hard and a soft copy of that book.
    The stubbornness she had hid a sensitive side that she bared only for the ones who meant to her… She knew the contrasts and chose her path at her own risks…

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    1. Beat About The Book Post author

      Hey Gattina just checked it is available in French as ‘La Source vive’, by Jane Fillion, published by Jeheber in case you want to look it up.

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  4. lesliebc

    That and another one I read by her were fabulous! What an author! I always like it when good triumphs over evil, but sometimes (just sometimes) I like to root for the bad guy/girl.

    Leslie
    abcw team

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    1. Beat About The Book Post author

      Atlas Shrugged might be the other one Leslie. This one has the bad and the good all mixed up, right? Dominique seems bad to begin with but then she’s motivated by the right reasons, at least in line with her philosophy.

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    1. Beat About The Book Post author

      Oh you too?? I also forget books and characters, even the well-beloved ones, which is why I enjoy re-reading them.

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