OF THE BABY NAME HOWARD
Howard Roark is the protagonist of Ayn Rand’s bestselling 1943 novel, The Fountainhead, also made into a 1949 movie of the same name, with the steely-jawed Gary Cooper as Howard Roark. Howard is, above all, an individualistic architect who refuses to compromise his strongly held tenets and pander to public taste. This leads to his being dismissed from the school of architecture, losing commissions, being forced to work at menial labor, being arrested and losing the woman he loves – all this proves no deterrent to his loyalty to himself first. His lady-love, Dominique, actually marries Howard’s arch rival, Peter Keating, in order to immerse herself in a world completely opposite from Howard’s. After many trials and tribulations that only the truly egotistical could understand or withstand, Howard makes peace with Keating and they design a building together, with Howard’s insistence that his instructions be followed to the letter. Upon returning from a trip, Howard finds that Keating has had the monumental chutzpah to alter their plans, so with Dominique’s assistance, he dynamites the building. That’s right. Blows it up. To smithereens. And goes on trial again – and wins! Dominique, by the way, has come around to his way of thinking, after a couple of other marriage detours, and so now she and Howard are triumphantly married to each other (to the relief of the rest of us). It is said that Ms. Rand agreed to write the script for the movie on the condition that absolutely no word of it be altered. Now, of whom does that remind us?
Howard the Duck is a Marvel Comics character first introduced in 1973, who went on to fame in film, video, toys and games. Howard is a duck from outer space who is dropped into Florida and thereafter bumbles his bad-tempered way through the morass that is Earth. This involves bizarre encounters with such characters as Garko the Man-Frog, Turnip Man and Kidney Lady. Howard also acquires a lady friend, Beverly Switzler, an artist’s model who is all woman, that is to say, she is in no part duck. Further adventures involve Howard’s nomination for president by the All-Night Party, many travels, and the abandonment of and reattachment to Beverly. Howard’s actions are all accompanied by acerbic and sarcastic satire of every aspect of life as he sees it. In 1986, Lucasfilm produced a live action movie called Howard the Duck, with an actor in a duck suit, and Chip Zien, whoever that is, as the voice of Howard. It was a complete and utter bomb, and that is probably because the movie’s Howard bore only a passing, sickly resemblance to the fur and blood creation of the feisty comic character.
Margaret is the protagonist of E. M. Forster’s 1910 masterpiece, Howard’s End, a beautifully drawn examination of the English class system. Margaret is a sterling character (one thinks of Emma Thompson’s great portrayal in the 1992 movie), who addresses all of life’s conflicts with an even-handed , open honesty. She is not a creature of noblesse oblige; she truly connects to people and empathizes with them. She tries her best to right wrongs as she sees them, even while grave wrongs are being done to her. Her development over the years brings her into her own as a compassionate and caring woman, who will leave the world a better place for having inhabited it.