To Jay Chidsey, a fan [Letter 257]

Item Reference Code: 036_01F_007_001

Date(s) of creation

September 5, 1946


Jay Chidsey


September 5, 1946 

Mr. Jay Chides
Green Springs, Ohio

Dear Mr. Chidsey: 

Thank you for your very interesting letter. No, it is not my “duty to hear out a disciple”, but in your case it was a pleasure.

I note with particular interest your saying that you are just going to college, and that you are going with the ideals of my book in mind. You will need them. In most modern colleges, there are many people who will make a concerted attack on your mind with the Toohey philosophy, in more insidious forms than you can possibly imagine. I would like you to be prepared against that. The battle will be tough, but if you will remember the ideas which you liked in Roark’s speech and in Toohey’s speech, you will win. If it becomes too tough and the Tooheys get you confused beyond endurance, write to me again. 

If you intend to be a writer, I can give you encouragement in one particular respect, because it is a hopeful sign: you have picked as your example of good writing what is one of the two best passages of writing in THE FOUNTAINHEAD—the opening of Part 4.[*] The other passage is Wynand’s walk through the streets. 

As to your questions, the printed letter which I am enclosing will answer them. No, my characters are not any of the people you mentioned. They are not copies of “real” people. As a future writer, don’t make the mistake of being misled by superficial resemblances to public figures. That is not how characters are created in fiction. 



Ayn Rand

*In the opening of Part 4, AR describes a young man’s discovery of the Monadnock summer resort and his chance meeting with its architect, Howard Roark. That section ends: “[Roark] did not know that he had given someone the courage to face a lifetime.”