For students in grades 11 and 12
Deadline: April 29, 2020
Select ONE of the following three topics:
Describe a situation in your own life when you faced a conflict between doing what you truly thought would advance your own goals in life, and doing what was approved of by society. What do you think Roark would decide to do in such a situation? What would Keating decide? Explain your answers by citing scenes from The Fountainhead. What decision did you make, and how would you compare it to Roark’s and Keating’s likely decision?
In an editorial defending Roark, Wynand writes: “It is precisely the self that cannot and must not be sacrificed. It is the unsacrificed self that we must respect in man above all.” What does The Fountainhead have to say about what it means to actually have a “self”? Illustrate by giving examples of major and minor characters who are described in ways that suggest that they either have or lack a self.
The novel opens with the line “Howard Roark laughed.” What things does Roark laugh at in this scene, and in other scenes? Give a few examples from the book. Later in a scene with Keating, Toohey reveals that part of his method is to “kill by laughter.” What things does Toohey laugh at? Give a few examples. What is different about the things Roark and Toohey laugh at? Explain how the contrast reflects wider themes in the novel.
Essays will be judged on whether the student is able to argue for and justify their view—not on whether the Institute agrees with the view the student expresses. Judges will look for writing that is clear, articulate and logically organized. Winning essays must demonstrate an outstanding grasp of the philosophic meaning of The Fountainhead.
Essay submissions are evaluated in a fair and unbiased four-round judging process. Judges are individually selected by the Ayn Rand Institute based on a demonstrated knowledge and understanding of Ayn Rand’s works.
To ensure the anonymity of our participants, winners’ names are unknown to judges until after essays have been ranked and the contest results finalized.
The Ayn Rand Institute checks essays with Ithenticate plagiarism detection software.
- No application is required. Contest is open to students worldwide, except where void or prohibited by law. Essays must be written in English only.
- Entrant must be in the 11th or 12th grade for at least one semester during the school year in which the contest is held. The school year is considered to run August of the current year through July of the following year. ARI reserves the right to make exceptions to this rule, on a case-by-case basis, for students with nonstandard school years.
- To avoid disqualification, mailed-in essays must include a stapled cover sheet with the following information:
- your name and address;
- your email address (if available);
- the name and address of your school;
- topic selected (#1, 2 or 3 from the “Topics” tab);
- your current grade level; and
- (optional) the name of the teacher who assigned the essay if you are completing it for classroom credit.
- 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.
- Essay must be submitted online by 11:59 p.m. Pacific Time of the entry deadline.
- The Ayn Rand Institute has the right to provide contest deadline extensions when deemed appropriate.
- Essay must be solely the work of the entrant. Plagiarism will result in disqualification. Essays must not infringe on any third-party rights or intellectual property of any person, company or organization. By submitting an essay to this Contest, the entrant agrees to indemnify the Ayn Rand Institute for any claim, demand, judgment or other allegation arising from possible violation of someone’s trademark, copyright or other legally protected interest in any way in the entrant’s essay.
- Decisions of the judges are final.
- Employees of the Ayn Rand Institute Canada, its board of directors and their immediate family members are not eligible for this contest. Past first-place winners are not eligible for this contest.
- All entries become the property of the Ayn Rand Institute Canada and will not be returned.
- Winners, finalists, semifinalists and all other participants will be notified via email and/or by mail typically by July 2019.
- Winners are responsible for providing their mailing addresses and other necessary information under the law in order to receive any prizes. Contest winners agree to allow the Ayn Rand Institute to post their names on any of ARI’s affiliated websites. The first-place essay may be posted in its entirety on any of these websites with full credit given to the author.
- Winners consent to participate in interviews and allow ARI to use quotes and take photographs, movies or videotapes of them.
- Winners also grant to the Ayn Rand Institute: The Center for the Advancement of Objectivism the right to edit, use and reuse said products for nonprofit purposes, including use in print, on the internet and all other forms of media.
- Winners release the Ayn Rand Institute and its agents and employees from all claims, demands, and liabilities whatsoever, regarding the above.
- Winners will be solely responsible for any federal, state or local taxes.
Protected by Ithenticate Plagiarism Detection Software
You will receive an e-mail acknowledging receipt of your entry within 24 hours. If it has been at least 24 hours, and you have not received e-mail notification, please e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. Please check your junk e-mail for your notification. Please do not re-submit.
Students unable to submit their essays online may mail essays to:The Fountainhead Essay Contest
The Ayn Rand Institute
P.O Box 57044
Irvine, CA 92619-7044
For mailed-in essays only—You MUST include a stapled cover sheet with the following information: your name; mailing address; e-mail address; the name and address of your school; topic selected (#1, 2 or 3 from the list above); your current grade level; the name of the teacher who assigned the essay (if applicable).
Please do not submit duplicate essays!
If you wish to verify our receipt of your essay, please paperclip a stamped, self-addressed postcard to the essay.
Comments or questions about the essay contests are welcome. Please write to email@example.com.