How Is Peter Keating Selfish

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Peter Keating is an interesting character in that he tries to be selfish, but he has no actual sense of self. When Keating first speaks with Howard Roark, he asks Roark for advice on which career path he should take, to which Roark responds, ‘“If you want my advice, Peter,’ he said at last, ‘you've made a mistake already. By asking me. By asking anyone. Never ask people. Not about your work. Don't you know what you want? How can you stand it, not to know?’” (33). This line serves the dual purpose of highlighting a major flaw in Peter Keating's sense of self while also demonstrating a way in which Howard Roark has control over his own sense of self. While Peter Keating lacks the ego and self to make his own decisions about his life and his success,…show more content…
Like Howard Roark, he works hard for what he has, and as a result he is very wealthy and is able to build an empire and marry the very desirable Dominique Keating. Wynand seems to have the ideal life, but he earns all of these things at the expense of his integrity and values. As Roark tells Wynand on their vacation, “A truly selfish man cannot be affected by the approval of others. He doesn’t need it” (606). Wynand cannot truly demonstrate proper selfishness because he cares too much about what others think and panders to what they want to hear in his newspapers. This is a stark contrast to Roark, who refuses to compromise on his work in order to appease others. This is why Roark refuses to work on the Manhattan Bank Building and why he destroys the Cortlandt Homes toward the end of the novel. He knows that if he lets others control even the tiniest aspects of his work, than the work is not truly his and therefore he has not earned success without selling himself…show more content…
Toohey masks his lack of moral character behind a facade of selflessness and altruism. He pretends that he wants the best for others, but instead focuses on trying to destroy their entire egos and selves. He even goes so far as to tell his niece “‘You must stop wanting anything. You must forget how important Miss Catherine Halsey is. Because, you see, she isn’t” (364). This idea of selflessness as a supreme moral objective fails to take into account the pointlessness of always helping others if they are not even allowed to have wants or desires. One of the main reasons that Howard Roark despises Ellsworth Toohey is because of Toohey's pursuit to erase the egos and desires of others, therefore inhibiting their chances at true success and happiness, just as Toohey does in the case of Catherine

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