Summary (Masterplots, Fourth Edition)
Howard Roark is expelled from architectural school because he has no respect for copying the past. Peter Keating, one of the favorite students at the school, frequently persuades Roark to help him with his assignments. Roark decides to go to New York City to work for Henry Cameron, a once-respected but now renegade architect who shares Roark’s ideals. Keating takes a job with the firm of Guy Francon, a powerful and influential architect who believes in copying classic buildings. After Cameron’s business fails, Keating hires Roark, but the job does not last long. Francon fires Roark for his failure to draft an adaptation of one of Cameron’s buildings; Roark continues to refuse to copy others’ work.
Dominique Francon, Guy’s daughter, visits the office. Her beauty immediately impresses Keating, and he remains interested in her even after discovering that she wrote a newspaper column in Gail Wynand’s Banner in which she criticized one of his building designs. They later begin dating. Keating’s longtime girlfriend, Catherine Halsey, announces that she wants to get married immediately; however, she agrees to wait. Keating knows that Halsey is the niece of Ellsworth Toohey, a Banner columnist who writes about architecture and many other topics. He refuses to use his relationship with Halsey to gain influence with Toohey.
Roark takes a job with another firm but learns that his designs will be combined with those of...
(The entire section is 1183 words.)
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Summary (Magill's Survey of American Literature, Revised Edition)
The Fountainhead’s major theme is the need for integrity and independence as exemplified in the career of Howard Roark. Roark is the fountainhead, or productive force, in the novel. To develop this theme, Rand places Roark in contrast with three other men, Peter Keating, Ellsworth Toohey, and Gail Wynand.
The novel begins with a jarring contrast. Howard Roark is expelled from the Stanton Academy on the same day that Peter Keating graduates with honors. Roark is the true architect, making a building’s design fit its purpose, while Keating’s practice of architecture seeks to please other people. In New York, Roark works for Henry Cameron, a brilliant, unconventional architect whose career and body are in decline. Cameron becomes Roark’s mentor, but he is also a foreboding image of how the world may destroy Roark.
After Cameron retires, Roark begins working for a series of architects but keeps getting fired because he will not bend to mediocrity. Roark designs in one style—-his own—-and ignores architectural fashions and traditions. Keating, meanwhile, advances in his career. Every time he has to design a building on his own, however, he turns to Roark for help. In this way Rand dramatizes the nature of the “second-hander.” Keating cannot produce because he worries about how his buildings will be received, while Roark, the fountainhead, can think on his own.
While working at one firm, Roark meets the...
(The entire section is 733 words.)
Part 1 Summary
The novel opens as the Stanton Institute of Technology is graduating its 1922 class. The dean has just informed Howard Roark that he is being expelled for "insubordination,"—for refusing to complete his assignments according to the standards of the college. Roark is not upset by the expulsion; rather, he admits that he should have quit the school long ago since he claims that he has learned very little there. Valedictory speaker Peter Keating, who has conformed to Stanton's rules, is considered by all to be the school's next success story. Yet Keating is unsure about his next move. He asks Roark's advice about whether to continue his studies in Europe or to accept a position with the Francon Architectural Firm in New York City. Roark tells him that he will learn nothing by studying the architecture of the past.
Both men move to New York City. Keating shows little creative promise but learns how to manipulate his employer, Guy Francon, and so quickly rises in the firm, becoming chief designer. Francon's beautiful daughter Dominique recognizes Keating's and her father's mediocrity and the pandering they must engage in to become successful. She openly criticizes them in her interior design column in The New York Banner. Overwhelmed by her beauty and commanding presence, Keating proposes marriage to her, but she refuses.
Roark becomes assistant to Henry Cameron, a renegade architect who once had enjoyed success for his innovative...
(The entire section is 366 words.)
Part 2 Summary
When Cameron retires, Roark accepts a job at Francon, but after refusing to work with others on his first design there, he is fired. He is later hired by another builder who lets him design independently but alters his work after it is completed. As a result, Roark determines to work for himself and is soon contracted by newspaperman Austen Heller to build his home. Roark cannot find other clients to appreciate his unique designs and so is forced to close his office and find work in a granite quarry in Connecticut, owned by Guy Francon.
That summer, Roark meets Dominique, and the two enter into an intense sexual relationship. He is soon called back to the city, though, to design an apartment building. After its completion, Roark gains recognition and more contracts. His success is noticed by Ellsworth Toohey, architectural critic for The Banner. Toohey, who has falsely assumed the role of humanist, feels threatened by Roark's individuality and so sets out to ruin him. On his recommendation, Roark is hired to build a "Temple to the Human Spirit," which upon completion, Toohey claims is heretical. As a result, Roark's career suffers.
Dominique marries Keating as an escape from her conflicted feelings about Roark, but the marriage lasts less than two years when she meets and decides to marry Banner publisher Gail Wynand. Recognizing and appreciating Roark's genius, Wynand hires him to build a house for Dominique, and the two men...
(The entire section is 258 words.)
Part 3 Summary
In an effort to bolster his own reputation, Keating asks Roark to design a low-cost development called Cortlandt Homes. Roark agrees, with Keating's promise that he will not alter the plans. When Keating passes the design off as his own and allows it to be altered, Roark blows up the project with Dominique's help. When Roark goes on trial for the bombing, Wynand supports his friend, which turns public opinion against him. Toohey sees the situation as an opportunity for him to destroy Wynand, who has just fired him, and Roark. Toohey engineers a strike against the Banner. To save himself, Wynand writes an editorial condemning Roark, which salvages his career but breaks his spirit.
At his trial, Roark convinces the jury that he had a right to destroy his project and is found not guilty. Roger Enright buys Cortlandt Homes and commissions Roark to rebuild it. Keating's reputation is destroyed after the public discovers that he put his name on the designs. After Dominique divorces Wynand, she marries Roark, who agrees to build a skyscraper for Wynand, who tells him, "'Build it as a monument to that spirit which is yours ... and could have been mine.'"
(The entire section is 198 words.)
Part 1, Chapters 1-3 Summary
Howard Roark stands naked at the edge of a cliff, looking down into the lake that has filled the granite quarry. He feels, not that he is one with the earth, but that the earth was made to support him. He thinks of that morning, when he was expelled from the Stanford Institute architectural program. He returns to his boarding house run by Mrs. Keating, whose son, Pete, is graduating that morning. Mrs. Keating tells Roark that the Dean wants to see him immediately. At his own pace, Roark goes to the Institute to talk with the Dean. In their conversation, Roark is at odds with the Dean’s notion that architecture is based on tradition. Roark does not want to follow tradition—he wants to create one. For this “originality,” Roark has been expelled. This does not particularly bother Roark because he feels he has learned all that the Institute is capable of teaching him. As for his career in architecture, Roark does not see himself as a servant of his client. Rather, Roark sees himself as an artist who must teach his client to appreciate his designs.
Peter Keating graduates from the Stanford Institute as the leading scholar of the class of 1922. Guy Francon has offered him a job with his architectural firm, but Keating has also won a scholarship to the Ecole de Beaux Arts in Paris. Keating is torn between the two; he knows what a great honor it is to be selected by Francon. He returns to his home to find Howard Roark sitting on the porch. Keating asks Roark his advice, but Roark refuses to give it. Mrs. Keating intrudes on the conversation, giving her advice that if Keating does not accept Francon’s offer, the job will be given to Keating’s arch rival. Keating reflects that architecture had not been his first choice. He had wanted to be an artist, but his mother had urged him to take a more practical course. Roark announces that he is going to work for Henry Cameron, who is a disgraced architect with shabby offices on the waterfront. He believes that at Cameron’s he will be able to build rather than copy the past. Keating leaves to join some other students for a night on the town in Boston.
On his first day with Francon’s firm, Keating arrives to find himself a small cog in a large machine. He tries to make some connection with the other people in the company, and there is some promise of future friendships. He learns that the buildings are no longer designed by Francon but by Stengel. Stengel himself gives Keating...
(The entire section is 615 words.)
Part 1, Chapters 4-6 Summary
Guy Francon reads a magazine article to Peter Keating; it is by Ellsworth Toohey and praises Francon for his architectural genius. Keating, who has become the favored boy of the firm, offers to finish the plans by his best friend, Tim Davis, because he knows Davis’s days are numbered. Afterward, Keating visits Catherine Halsey, a homely and dull girl with whom he is inexplicably infatuated. He learns that her uncle is Ellsworth Toohey, but he does not want to use her to meet the famed architectural critic. He does not want his future to be one of manipulation.
Henry Cameron calls Howard Roark into his office to let him know that he is firing him. Cameron says that Roark is too good for his second-rate firm. He urges Roark to try a more distinguished firm, such as Francon and Heyer, where he will earn more respect just by association. He sees that Roark has a passion for architecture; he would work for nothing just to build the masterpiece he desires. In the end, he knows Roark will not leave.
Over the next two years, Peter Keating rises to the top level of the firm. He begins to do more of Tim Davis’s work, which eventually leads to Davis’s termination. Keating also manipulates Stengel, the top designer, into leaving the firm to start his own business, thus leaving Keating as the chief designer of Francon and Heyer. When faced with his first assignment, however, he becomes insecure and seeks Roark’s help. Roark simplifies Keating’s designs, which Keating then turns in to Francon as his own work. In his position at Cameron’s firm, is faced with the reality that Cameron is no longer accepted as a valid architect. Cameron sees his career as symbolized by a tabloid, appealing to an undiscriminating public. He leaves it to Roark to salvage what he can from the mess Cameron has created.
Ellsworth Toohey publishes a bestselling book on the history of architecture. One year following this, Henry Cameron retires from business. He leaves the cleaning up for Roark. Keating expands his notoriety beyond the office to New York society. His mother rents her home in Stanton and moves to New York. She constantly provides advice to her son on how to get ahead, and Peter ignores her advice. He and Katherine (whom he calls Katie) agree that they are engaged. Although Keating had tried to get an introduction to Francon’s daughter, Francon obviously does not get on well with her, so Keating abandons the effort and...
(The entire section is 468 words.)
Part 1, Chapters 7-9 Summary
When Peter Keating reads about Henry Cameron’s retirement, he approaches Francon about hiring Roark, and he asks for carte blanche. Francon agrees; he admits that, despite Cameron’s downfall, he trained good architects—including himself. Keating goes to Roark’s home, ostensibly just passing by. Roark immediately knows why Keating has come and accepts the offer with a weekly salary of sixty-five dollars. His only condition is that he be placed in the engineering department, not the aesthetics department.
Roark settles in to his new job and tries to concentrate on the interior structures rather than on the exteriors. He goes down to the construction site of one building and strikes up a conversation with Mike, one of the builders. They discuss the lack of real experience in building by most architects and learn that both have worked for Henry Cameron. Mike learns about Roark’s reputation but does not care.
Francon calls Roark to his office with an assignment. A client wants an office building like one designed by Henry Cameron. Francon gives Roark directions to adapt Cameron’s design along more classical lines, but Roark refuses. He begs for the opportunity to design the building as Cameron would have, but Francon becomes irate and fires Roark. Over the next several months, Roark goes from firm to firm, but his reputation for arrogance has preceded him. One day he reads an article by Gordon Prescott on the need for new ideas in modern architecture. When Roark goes to see Prescott, he is told that his designs are immature and undisciplined.
Roark finally is hired at a firm led by John Eric Snyte, who collects architects representing different styles. Roark is hired as the modernistic representative. Meanwhile, the builders’ union goes on strike, which brings construction to a halt. Ellsworth Toohey, who has become a leading columnist in the papers of Gail Wynand, is supportive of the strikers. He speaks at a union rally at which Peter Keating finds Katie, who is transfixed by her uncle’s speech. Keating tries to get her away from the rally, but she refuses. Then Keating is caught up in Toohey’s call for unity—merging the self into the common good.
The next day, Wynand gives Toohey a raise in salary. Toohey tries to reject it, stating that he will not accept a bribe to be quiet. Wynand says that he is not bribing him and that Toohey should not flatter himself. After the strike ends,...
(The entire section is 473 words.)
Part 1, Chapters 10-12 Summary
At a gathering at the home of Mrs. Ralston Holcombe, Keating at last meets Dominique Francon. She is arrogant but Keating finds her appealing. She is dismissive to other guests and eventually to Keating as well.
Roark has worked for Snyte’s firm for several months when he is assigned to collaborate on plans for a home for Austen Heller, whom Keating had heard speak at the union rally. Heller wants something unique built on a rock cliff. Roark designs a home built out of the rock itself, but the final plans show revisions along a more traditional line. Heller, who has gone through several architects to find the design he wants, states that this is the closest anyone has ever come, but it is still not what he wants. Roark seizes the plans and quickly sketches his original design over the water colored picture. Snyte is furious and fires him on the spot. Heller states that he considers himself fired as well and walks out with Roark, whom he immediately hires to design his home according to the sketch he just created. He gives him a check made out to “Howard Roark, Architect” as an advance to establish an office and his own architectural firm.
Roark sets up his own office and returns to Snyte’s firm to retrieve his supplies. Snyte tries to cajole him into staying, stating that he did not seriously mean to fire him. Roark refuses. In anger, Snyte warns Roark that he will never take him back, and he will make sure that no other firm will ever hire him. Roark begins the building of Heller’s home; he visits the site several times. He discovers Mike working on the electrical system of the house. When the building is finished, the majority of the architectural community ignores it. The only comments made are negative. Keating makes an attempt at defending him.
Dominique Francon writes an investigative article on the conditions of the slums of New York. She spends two weeks living in a tenement, garnering information. After the article’s publication, she attends a reception where she confronts the slum lords with the conditions that the residents must face. However, in a meeting of social workers, she exposes the tenants as the victims of their own laziness. Her father sees these two conflicting views. Peter Keating begins to date Dominique, which pleases Francon, who hopes Keating will be a positive influence on her. Keating does not see Katie for more than a month until she shows up at his home, begging him...
(The entire section is 520 words.)
Part 1, Chapters 13-15 Summary
Howard Roark faces challenges when it comes to finding and keeping commissions. Jimmy Gowan, who had seen the Heller house, commissions him to build a gas station. Gowan is pleased with it, and Roark stays all day at the station on its first day. Mrs. Wayne Wilmot is a fan of Austen Heller’s and so wants Roark to design her home so she can say that she has Heller’s architect. When she will not be budged from building English Tudor, Roark refuses the commission. Robert Mundy asks Roark to build a reproduction of a Southern plantation as a symbol of himself. Roark objects, stating that it is a symbol of other people’s opinions, not of Mundy. Nathaniel Janss hires Roark to design an office building in downtown New York. Although Janss likes Roark’s modern plans, the board rejects it. Mr. Fargo, who likes both Roark’s gas station and Heller’s home, asks him to build a store for him. As Roark is working on this, he is commissioned to build a private mansion on the Hudson by Mr. and Mrs. Sanborn. Mrs. Sanborn objects all through the planning process, insisting that there be at least some classical elements to the home. When it is finished, she refuses to live in it. The Architect’s Guild of America describes the Sanborn house as “uninhabitable.”
Keating waits patiently for Heyer to die. He increasingly ignores Heyer, which causes the elder man to complain to Francon. Francon talks Keating into entering a design competition for the New York headquarters of Cosmo-Slotnik Pictures. Keating will be listed as the designer and receive one-fifth of the prize money. Keating promises Katie that the two of them will be married after the prize is announced. He visits Roark, who revises Keating’s entry to the competition.
Roark, who has not had any commissions for months, patiently waits for his money to disappear. Henry Cameron is dying, and Roark spends his last three days at Cameron’s side. Cameron urges Roark to stick to his principles no matter what.
Despite Keating’s promise to Katie, he grows ever closer to Dominique Francon. After one social event, Keating kisses her, which she allows him to do just so she will know what it is like. She explains to him that she is frigid and does not love him or any man. Keating begs her to marry him, which she promises to do should she ever feel a need to punish herself. Keating feels that this is good enough for the moment.
Keating is afraid that he...
(The entire section is 602 words.)
Part 2, Chapters 1-3 Summary
Howard Roark enjoys his work at the quarry, despite the pain he feels at the end of each day. Dominique Francon enjoys the solitude of her home in the country, and she roams the surrounding area like a “chatelaine” (ruler) of a kingdom. She finds her way to the nearby quarry and is transfixed at the sight of Roark at work. He looks into her eyes, and she immediately feels controlled. Her desire for this unknown stranger causes her to feel an intense hatred for him. She hopes that he feels pain from his work. Her obsession for Roark drives her to come back to the quarry repeatedly. The two always lock eyes but do not speak. Eventually, Dominique confronts Roark about gazing. He boldly tells her he stares at her for the same reason she stares at him. Feeling even more controlled—and strangely liking it—Dominique manages to walk away and not look back.
Dominique resents that she has lost her freedom in her obsession with Howard Roark. She recognizes that, even in her struggle to keep away from the quarry, Roark is possessing her. She decides to engineer a confrontation. Dominique takes a hammer and makes a deep scratch on her marble fireplace. She hires Roark to replace it. As he examines the marble, she struggles to refrain from touching him. Roark orders a new piece of marble, but he sends another workman to repair the fireplace. When Dominique asks him why he did not fix it himself, Roark asks her if it really makes a difference. Both know that it does.
That night, Roark enters Dominique’s bedroom. He rapes her, and Dominique struggles throughout the act. After Roark leaves, Dominique feels the need for a bath, but she decides she does not want to wash Roark off her. A week later, Roark receives a letter from Roger Enright asking him to come see him; he has a commission for him to do the Enright House. Roark leaves with barely a thought for Dominique. When Dominique goes to the quarry, she learns of Roark’s departure.
Stephen Mallory is chosen by Mr. Slotnick as the sculptor for a statue in the Cosmo-Slotnick Building, but Mr. Slotnick does not like it and asks Keating to choose another. Keating receives an advance copy of an article about himself by Ellsworth Toohey, along with a request to see him. Keating makes the appointment and later learns that Mallory tried to kill Toohey, who was uninjured. When Keating goes to see Toohey the next day, the conversation begins with a mutual admiration...
(The entire section is 462 words.)
Part 2, Chapters 4-6 Summary
Keating reads Lois Cook’s book and finds it spiritual because he does not understand it. He is meeting Katie at Ellsworth Toohey’s home for a “family tea.” Mrs. Keating still pushes her son along, despite his recent success.
Katie is anxious that her uncle approve of her marriage to Keating. Toohey implies that it is not important enough to disapprove. Keating and Toohey discuss Roark’s design for the Enright House, which Toohey finds unremarkable. At Lois Cook’s home, Keating discusses with her the plans for her house. She wants it lighted by kerosene, absent of windows in the living room, and an appearance of the ugliest house imaginable. She finds beauty too commonplace. She speaks of a youth group of writers (similar to the youth group of architects) that Toohey wants to form, with Lois Cook and Peter Keating as the chairmen.
Dominique returns to New York City, hoping to run into Roark (whose name she still does not know). She resents each part of the city where he might have had contact. She sees his design for the Enright House. She is unaware of the designer but judges it too beautiful to be built. It should exist only as an ideal.
Ellsworth Toohey gathers together his youth group of architects, which acquires the name of the Council of American Builders. It is not open just to architects but to all who are involved in the building process. The group of eighteen consists of unknowns except for Peter Keating and Gordon Prescott. Keating is unanimously elected chairman, with Prescott chosen as the vice-chairman. Toohey refuses all nominations, preferring to remain an unofficial advisor. Dominique Francon arrives and sits unobtrusively in the back. After the meeting is over, she greets Toohey, who is delighted that she has come. Keating is overjoyed to see her. He can sense that she has newly acquired the experience of being with a man. She explains that it was a lowly quarry worker. She wants Keating to agree that they will not meet each other socially. Keating refuses to do this.
Austen Heller convinces Roark to join him at a party given by Kiki Holcombe. Roark refuses, but when he hears that Dominique will be there, he agrees. At the party, Mrs. Holcombe tries to engage Roark in conversation but is soon repulsed by his arrogance. Toohey meets him and takes him to be introduced to Dominique. Both Dominique and Roark act as if they have never met. Dominique has a sense that Roark is...
(The entire section is 464 words.)
Part 2, Chapters 7-9 Summary
Dominique writes a condemnatory article about the Enright House. Toohey warns her that he can read between the lines that she feels bitterness toward Roark as a person. When Joel Sutton reads it, he visits her and asks her opinion of Roark. The result is that he calls Roark and cancels his commission; he says he is hiring Peter Keating on Dominique’s suggestion. Roark’s response is a laugh.
Dominique comes to visit Roark. She says she wants to sleep with him even though she intends to destroy him. Roark commands her to take off her clothes, and they make love. Dominique tells him that her feelings have not changed and that she still wants to destroy him. Roark tells her that he would not want her if she did not want to destroy him, and he invites her to spend the night so he can make breakfast for her in the morning.
Ellsworth Toohey arrives at Dominique’s home although she has never invited him. He proposes that the two of them join forces in destroying Howard Roark. She agrees, and she continues to sleep with Roark at night. To her, making love with Roark is an act of violence, which she loves. To further destroy Roark, she manages to get several commissions for Peter Keating. Roger Enright comes to her office; he is furious for her attacks on the Enright House. He forces her to go with him to the site to see it in person. She is overwhelmed. Roark also visits the site, and he and Dominique pretend they have only met at a cocktail party. The next day, Dominique writes that she hopes it will be destroyed in some future air raid because it should have a sudden end rather than decay.
Peter Keating is dazzled by Dominique’s new attention to him. Their acquaintances believe that Dominique is in love with Keating, but in private she barely speaks to him. In the meantime, the Council of American Builders continues to meet, although it does nothing but speak and listen.
As a child, Ellsworth Toohey was fragile and sickly and, thus, became the center of his mother’s world. His father did not care for him but followed his wife’s lead with much complaining. As a youth, Toohey developed a fascination with religion and planned on entering the ministry. He acquired several “wounded souls” who looked to him for comfort, which he gave dispassionately. At the age of sixteen he dropped religion and took up socialism. He became known as a humanitarian, and he loved to apply this description to...
(The entire section is 460 words.)
Part 2, Chapters 10-12 Summary
When the Enright House opens, there is little fanfare. Most find it hideous, but Roark nevertheless begins to get commissions. Kent Lansing hires him to design a luxury hotel, The Aquitania. Dominique tells Toohey that she is glad Roark got it, which causes Toohey to question her partnership with him in Roark’s destruction. This she denies. Hopton Stoddard is a millionaire who finds solace in religion in the way of a bribe. He wants to build a temple to religion, but Toohey advises him against it. When he rethinks the plan, he tells Stoddard that he will back him as long as he hires Howard Roark to draw the designs. Stoddard is concerned when he learns that Roark is an atheist, but Toohey assures him that Roark believes in God in his own way, as is evident by the buildings he designs. Stoddard approaches Roark with the plan, but Roark is at first reluctant because he does not believe in God. Stoddard is pleased that things are proceeding as Toohey predicted, and he tells Roark that he may design it in any way he wants, as a Temple to the Human Spirit. Given carte blanche, Roark agrees.
The Cosmo-Slotnick Building opens, but Peter Keating is happy about it. Toohey tells him that he should marry Dominique rather than Katie because Katie will not enhance his career. Roark begins the designs for the Aquitania as well as Stoddard’s Temple. He decides he wants Steve Mallory to make the sculpture representing the spirit of man. He tries to contact Mallory and with difficulty makes an appointment with him, but Mallory does not show up for the appointment. Roark tracks him down and treats him like a human being; this is something Mallory desperately needs. Mallory agrees to do the sculpture and accepts Roark’s suggestion that the model should be Dominique Francon. Dominique accepts, much to the displeasure of the people around her. After the 1929 Stock Market Crash, the work on the Aquitania stops.
The Stoddard Temple is complete, and Hopton Stoddard returns from abroad to see it. He brings a lawsuit against Howard Roark for breach of contract and malpractice. The Stoddard Temple becomes the focus of societal umbrage. It is sacrilegious, a defamation of the religious spirit. Roark refuses to hire counsel and serves as his own defense. At the trial, witness after witness testifies against Roark. The final witness is Dominique Francon, who had agreed to serve as a witness for the prosecution. She agrees that the Stoddard...
(The entire section is 455 words.)
Part 2, Chapters 13-15 Summary
Stoddard wins the lawsuit, and Roark refuses to appeal. Dominique writes an article that quotes most of her testimony from the trial. Her boss refuses to publish it, and Dominique threatens to quit if he does not. Unsure of what to do, her boss wires Gail Wynand in the Caribbean for directions. Wynand wires back, “Fire the bitch.” Toohey obtains a copy of the telegram and gives it to Dominique. She confronts her boss with it, packs up her things, and leaves.
Katie talks with her Uncle Ellsworth; she tells him how unhappy she is in her job as a social worker. She is becoming mean, hating the very people she is trying to help. Toohey tells her that she must give up her ego; only when she has shed herself of that will she be truly happy. Keating comes to see her, which he has not done for several months. Katie can see that he has been drinking. He proposes that they get married the next day. Meekly, Katie agrees. When Toohey comes to her room, she tells him that she is no longer afraid of him.
Dominique arrives at Keating’s home and announces to him that she will marry him. They drive to Connecticut to the home of a judge and are married in his front room. When they drive back to New York, Dominique drops off Keating at his home; she tells him that she will move her things to his apartment the next day. However, at this moment she has things to do. She drives to Roark’s home, where she makes love to him and tells him for the first time that she loves him. She also tells him that she married Peter Keating. Roark says nothing; he restrains himself. Dominique explains that she married Keating the way she had originally told him, as a punishment to herself. She is punishing herself for living in a world where Roark is not appreciated. Thus, her marriage to Keating is her gift to Roark. Roark asks her if she would obey if he ordered her to get her marriage annulled. Dominique says she would, and Roark replies that for that reason he will not. They will continue as they are until her punishment is complete.
Dominique shows up at Keating’s home the next morning. Mrs. Keating is elated at first, but Dominique treats her with quite politeness. Mrs. Keating knows that, after she recovers, she will hate her new daughter-in-law. That evening people show up to wish them well. When they are alone, Keating makes love to Dominique for the first time. She is merely present but does not participate. He discovers that she...
(The entire section is 544 words.)
Part 3, Chapters 1-3 Summary
Gail Wynand considers suicide but decides against it because he is indifferent whether he lives or dies. He reflects on his life. He was born in the poorest section of New York, but he worked his way up in the newspaper business. He became the editor of the Gazette, which he renamed the Banner. Once he sought help from a respected journalist in trying to save an honest man from being framed, but the journalist was refused. He thus gave up on men of integrity. He ran two articles seeking help for two people: one was a scientist on the verge of a great invention, and the other was the pregnant girlfriend of a convict. The contributions to the pregnant girlfriend vastly outnumbered those to the scientist. This pointed out the direction that Wynand would take his newspaper. Wynand focused on and reported the lowest common denominator, appealing to the prurient interests of the public. He invested money and expanded his interests until he controlled a large section of the media in the country.
Ellsworth Toohey wants Wynand to hire Peter Keating as an architect for Wynand’s Stonebridge housing project. Wynand will not listen to him, so Toohey wants him to talk to Dominique Keating; this Wynand refuses. Toohey tells him he has sent him a gift that will convince him. When Wynand opens it, he discovers the statue of Dominique Francon from the Stoddard Temple. Wynand agrees to talk to Dominique.
After two years of marriage, Keating realizes that Dominique has no interest in their marriage, though she agrees to whatever he wishes. His mother has moved out because she was unable to deal with the soulless atmosphere. Ellsworth Toohey calls, wishing to come over. He tells them that Gail Wynand has agreed to talk with Dominique about the Stonebridge project for Keating. Keating understands the implications of this meeting: Wynand has a reputation for bedding beautiful but difficult women, which Dominique certainly is. Dominique agrees to the meeting, though she asks Toohey what he gains from her sleeping with Wynand. Toohey reveals that he hopes to destroy the Keating marriage because it has not turned out the way he wanted.
Dominique meets with Wynand and surprises him with the revelation that she is Dominique Francon, whom he fired. She offers to sleep with him if he will give the Stonebridge contract to Keating. Wynand understands that she is punishing herself; he sees her as a portrait of suffering....
(The entire section is 487 words.)
Part 3, Chapters 4-6 Summary
Wynand and Dominique depart on their cruise aboard Wynand’s ship, the I Do. Wynand gave his ship this name in response to the many times in his life when people told him he did not run things. Dominique realizes that this is a question Wynand never answered for other people, but he readily gave the answer to her. On the deck, Wynand tells Dominique that he loves her and wants to marry her. He will take care of her divorce from Keating and marry her when she gets a divorce in Reno. Dominique remembers Wynand’s role in the Stoddard Temple as well as other things in the Banner that played a part in her attempt to destroy Roark. She agrees to marry him.
When he returns from the cruise, Wynand goes to see Peter Keating. When Keating sees that Wynand has returned early, his first fear is that he will not get the Stonebridge contract. Wynand assures him that the contract is his. He hands him the contract as well as a check for $250,000—payment for Dominique. At first Keating refuses, but eventually he accepts the inevitable. After Dominique leaves for Reno, Keating realizes he actually loves her. He goes to Toohey and gives him a check for $10,000 to give to some charity. He tells Toohey that Dominique is marrying Wynand. Toohey is in shock; he realizes how dangerous both of them together will be to him.
Dominique takes the train to Reno but stops in Clayton, Ohio, where Roark is working on a construction job. Although it is night, she finds him walking down the street. She tells him that she is not staying but is on her way to Reno. When she tells him that she is marrying Wynand, Roark remembers how much Henry Cameron despised Wynand. Dominique wants to stay with Roark, but he refuses. Dominique grieves because life has lowered Roark to building inexpensive homes. She gets back on the train and continues her journey to Reno.
The Council of American Writers, the group founded by Toohey for young “talent,” has become the literati of the country. Ike, one of the members, reads a truly awful play of his, but the other members pronounce it sure to be a hit. Toohey writes an article in support of modern architecture, in which he praises the pioneer work of Henry Cameron. Guy Francon announces his retirement. Keating chooses Neil Dumont as his new partner but completely forgets about the announcement celebration and is out in the country at the time. Thus Stonebridge, for which Keating gave up...
(The entire section is 444 words.)
Part 3, Chapters 7-9 Summary
Wynand meets Dominique at the train station when she returns to New York. He tells her that he is taking her to the judge so they can be married immediately. She objects, stating that she wants to have an elaborate wedding in a hotel with a large guest list, as is fitting for one such as Gail Wynand. Wynand reluctantly agrees, and they are married the following week, with Dominique wearing a long black wedding dress. Alvah Scarret, Dominique’s former boss at The Banner, asks her why The Banner was blocked from reporting the wedding. Dominique is surprised and learns that this was Wynand’s request. Later, at their penthouse, Dominique thanks him. She finds herself attracted to Wynand not as a man but as a source of power.
The Banner is flooded with letters condemning Wynand for marrying a divorcée because he had been such a public proponent of conservative values. Wynand laughs them off as well as the attacks from the other newspapers. Ellsworth learns that Mitchell Layton, a suspected Communist sympathizer, has been hired. He worries that this will drag the paper down even further.
For two weeks, Wynand and Dominique do not leave their apartment. When Wynand returns to work, Dominique stays at home. She realizes that Wynand prefers her to be secluded. He does not allow The Banner to print any news about her. One of the star reporters sneaks into Dominique’s presence and interviews her. When the final article is submitted to Wynand for approval, he fires the reporter even though she has a large reading public. After a few months, Dominique forces Wynand to resume a social life.
Wynand attends a publishers’ convention. At his return, Dominique takes him to see a play called No Skin Off Your Nose, which had been praised by every reporter at The Banner. The audience pretends to think it is wonderful, but Wynand can see that it is meaningless and ridiculous. Dominique admits that she wanted to force Wynand to see the world he created. Instead, Wynand judges the people who enjoy the trash he saw. He does not take any responsibility as the one who gave it to them. Dominique apologizes; she sees that she is unable to hurt him but can only hurt herself. On their summer cruise, Wynand tells her that he loves her.
Wynand and Dominique look out at the skyscrapers of New York, which they see as indicative of the greatness of man. Wynand says that he...
(The entire section is 492 words.)
Part 4, Chapters 1-3 Summary
A young man bicycles along a country road, wondering if life is really worth living. He comes to a valley in which homes have been built into the nature of the environment. He sees Howard Roark sitting there. Roark explains that this is Monadnock Valley, a community of vacation homes for people of limited means. The young man is so overtaken that he feels he has been given hope for a lifetime.
The developers of Monadnock Valley had awarded the contract to Roark, but Caleb Bradley, the chairman, always seems to be dealing with a small child when he talks to Roark. Bradley expresses little interest in promoting the community, but all the homes are leased within a month of the opening. Monadnock Valley (and Roark) becomes famous despite Bradley’s indifference. It is discovered that Bradley and the committee of developers had defrauded the investors; they had not expected the place to be a success. They chose Roark as the most likely to design a place that no one would want. When Bradley was proved wrong, he was forced to pay the investors and was imprisoned for fraud. Roark is awarded several contracts. He has earned a grudging acceptance in the building establishment. He is chosen as one of eight architects to design a world’s fair, but he refuses to work on a team. His place is given to Peter Keating instead. When Roark enters his new office in the Cord Building, his secretary tells him that he has an appointment with Gail Wynand.
Wynand asks Roark to build him a private home in the country. It is designed to be a fortress, a treasury that will shield Dominique from the attentions of the world. Wynand knows little of Roark and nothing of his relationship to his wife. Roark accepts the commission and promises that it will be done by the middle of summer. After he leaves, Wynand reads every Banner article about Roark. Scarret informs Toohey about Wynand’s meeting with Roark. He says that Wynand has changed since his marriage and is alienating most of the people in the office. Toohey tells Scarret that, if it comes to a showdown between them and Wynand, they have no reason to be afraid of Wynand any longer.
Roark and Wynand view the site of Wynand’s home. Wynand wonders why Roark does not hate him for what The Banner printed about him, but Roark does not. They talk of their similar childhood experiences. When Roark finishes the designs, he takes them to Wynand’s office. Wynand accepts...
(The entire section is 525 words.)
Part 4, Chapters 4-6 Summary
Wynand shows Dominique the designs for their country home. She can tell immediately that Howard Roark has made them. Wynand tells her that Roark will be coming for dinner. When Roark arrives, Dominique numbly acts as if she has never met him. Roark is excessively polite to her. Dominique catches herself referring to Wynand in the past tense. When Wynand and Roark look of the designs, she is amazed that they act as if she will ever live in the house.
Wynand drops in on Roark a few days later. They discuss the similarities in their modes of thinking, and again Wynand reveals his innermost thoughts to Roark as though they were best friends. When Wynand returns to his office, he orders Scarret never to refer to Roark in The Banner from that point on.
As his relationship with Roark progresses, Wynand finds that the type of news reported in The Banner repulses him. He finds a means of cleansing in his frequent visits with Roark. They go out to visit the site where Wynand’s home is being built. Wynand suddenly is aware of the passage of time in his life. He thinks that if he had to stand before God and give an accounting of his life, he would proudly say that he looked for no justification outside of himself. He asks Roark if his feelings for a building are greater than being in love, and Roark says they are.
Dominique resents the time Roark spends alone with Wynand. Although she always plays the perfect hostess, she withdraws after dinner so the two men may talk alone in the study. She realizes that Roark is not punishing her, but it is a type of discipline for both of them. Wynand wonders that Dominique dislikes Roark, though she has said nothing. She asks Wynand if Roark has become a shrine for him. Wynand replies that Roark is like a hair shirt, a means of bringing suffering on himself.
Ellsworth Toohey attends a gathering at the home of Mitchell Layton. The talk centers on the idea that freedom is overrated but that pattern, rhythm, and beauty are what really matter. Mitchell’s wife, Eve, expresses the idea that there is no such thing as an individual. All that exists is the collective and how one fulfills one’s part in it. Gail Wynand is seen as the figure of oppression in the capitalistic system. The Banner is spiraling downward in readership as well as in support from its employees. When he leaves, Toohey feels exhilarated. He stands in the darkened streets, throws...
(The entire section is 450 words.)
Part 4, Chapters 7-9 Summary
Peter Keating is thirty-nine years old, gaining weight, and spiraling downward. The Keating architectural firm has shrunk considerably since Guy Francon’s retirement; the offices are now confined to only one floor. He is deemed “old-fashioned” and is known as the lead designer of the flop “March of the Centuries.” He visits Ellsworth Toohey in hopes of gaining an inside track to becoming designer of a new housing project, Cortland Homes. Toohey has distanced himself from Keating; he prefers to write about August Webb as the pre-eminent designer of the age. When Keating begs for his aid, Toohey tells him that he has no official role in the selection of the designer of Cortland Homes, but he will speak up for him if Keating can come up with some decent designs. He warns him that Cortland Homes must be affordable and easy to maintain: they need a “millionaire’s kitchen for a sharecropper’s income.” Keating gratefully accepts and goes back to his office. When he receives the specifications from Toohey, he realizes that this project is more than he can adequately accomplish. He calls to make an appointment with Howard Roark; he hopes Roark will refuse to see him, but he does not. An appointment is scheduled for the following day.
Roark and Keating discuss the plans for the Cortland housing project. Roark is frustrated that, because it is a government project and under strict controls, people who make fifteen dollars a week will have nicer homes than will those who make forty dollars a week. This is rewarding the incompetent at the expense of the competent. Roark accepts the deal—but not for any sense of humanitarianism nor from kindness in doing Keating a favor. He agrees to draw the designs simply for the love of designing. He will not accept any money from Keating, only Keating’s promise that the project will be constructed strictly according to his plans. Roark is pleased when he sees that the joy of designing is the greatest reward. Keating shows Roark some of his paintings. Roark tells him that it is too late. For the first time in his life, Roark feels pity for another human being as Keating leaves his office, crushed at the lost opportunities of his life.
Roark designs the Cortland Homes in such an economical way that the rent for each unit will go for ten dollars a month. When Ellsworth Toohey sees the designs, he says Keating is a genius. Wynand sees the designs in the paper and argues with Roark....
(The entire section is 513 words.)
Part 4, Chapters 10-12 Summary
Peter Keating walks home in the rain one March afternoon. He notices someone looking in a shop window and realizes it is Katie Halsey. He greets her with trepidation, but she is warm and friendly. She suggests that they go somewhere to get some tea. She notices that he looks unhealthy and has gained weight, so she changes his food order to something more nutritional, stating that Americans never know how to have a balanced diet. She has lived in Washington for two years, working as a social worker. Keating wants to talk about the past and to express his shame and regret, but Katie believes in letting the past go. He tells her that he truly loved her at the time. He did not do what he really wanted; he says that doing what one wants is the hardest thing there is. From her reaction, Keating can see that Katie has questioned whether she ever truly loved him. She tells him to stop being so selfish. She leaves, and Keating has a sense of emptiness.
Wynand convinces Roark to go with him on an extended cruise on his yacht, leaving Dominique at home. He enjoys Roark’s company and opens up to him about his own thoughts in a way that he does with no one else. Nevertheless, as he watches Roark swimming in the middle of the ocean, he thinks of his own power and considers that he could order the boat to leave Roark stranded.
Wynand and Roark discuss what selflessness really means—this concept that caused Roark’s life to take its course when he was expelled from Stanton. They talk of a selfless life as being based in other people, leading to second-hand lives. Neither one wants to be “second-handers,” and so both are content with their selfishness. Peter Keating, however, has lost all of his friends through his selflessness. The only thing that can overcome that second-hand life is an independent spirit. Silently, Roark thinks that the worst second-hander of all is the man who goes after power.
Roark returns from the cruise and reads that Gordon Prescott and Gus Webb have been named associate designers on the Cortlandt homes, and they have changed his plans. He is furious. Keating apologizes, telling him that he was overridden although he fought it every step of the way. Roark does not blame him. He warns Keating that what he has to do will hurt, but it will hurt Roark more. Roark goes to Wynand’s home and tells Dominique that he wants her to drive past the Cortlandt homes, pretend to run out of gas, and ask the...
(The entire section is 516 words.)
Part 4, Chapters 13-15 Summary
Dominique barely survives that first night. She is in the hospital for several days before she is finally allowed to go home. Wynand tells her that she went too far, that she should have known what glass can do. He knows she cut herself and had a part in Roark’s destruction of the Cortlandt housing project. He had personally paid the bail for Roark. He approves of the destruction but is concerned about his and Dominique’s part in it. He teases Dominique, calling Roark her lover. She knows then that he has not guessed her true relationship with Roark. Roark comes to see Dominique. He tells her that, should he be convicted, she must stay with Wynand. However, if he is acquitted, she must come finally to be with him. Dominique understands the true friendship that Roark feels for Wynand. She regrets how hurt Wynand will be if Roark is acquitted.
Wynand begins to write editorials in support of Roark. His staff is outraged, and The Banner begins to spiral downward. Soon it is sold only under the counter. In the eyes of the public, Roark is worse than a murderer. He has destroyed attempts to lift the poor out of poverty. Some see the similarity between the Cortlandt housing project and Roark’s buildings; they assume Roark felt resentful of Keating for borrowing his ideas. As Wynand’s staff further resists his efforts to defend Roark, Wynand can see the influence that Toohey has had, driving a wedge between Roark and his journalists.
Ellsworth Toohey goes to Peter Keating’s home, where Keating is hiding out from the newspapers. Toohey laughs at him for this and points out that Keating used to seek out the newspapers. Toohey badgers Keating, pressuring him to admit that Roark was the one who designed the Cortlandt homes. Keating insists that he designed them himself. Finally he gives Toohey the contract that he and Roark signed. Keating cowers on the floor as Toohey forces him to see Toohey as he really is. He explains that he is concerned only with power, that he believes true selflessness is nonexistent. He wants Roark in jail so that every minute of his day he will be forced to submit to someone else’s power. Keating realizes that he is tied to Toohey. Toohey recognizes this, too.
Wynand returns from an unsuccessful meeting to keep a major advertiser to find that Toohey has written an article condemning Roark. Wynand immediately fires Toohey and all those involved in getting the article into...
(The entire section is 553 words.)
Part 4, Chapters 16-18 Summary
The board of directors demands that Wynand relent and rehire those he fired. Mitchell Layton, who has more invested in The Banner than anyone but Wynand himself, warns that he will take over the paper and run it the way it should be run. Wynand will not hear Toohey’s name, but in the end he relents in order to save the paper. Scarret will take over. Wynand agrees to write a front-page article in which he states that he was too lenient with Roark and that, if found guilty, Roark must pay the price of his crime. Wynand walks the streets of the city, equating himself with the refuse crushed into the pavement. He remembers holding the gun to his head so long ago. He feels that he might as well have pulled the trigger then. He finds himself in Hell’s Kitchen, where he was born, and he feels that he was never allowed to leave. He reads his article in the paper in which he betrays Roark. He inwardly releases all those who have been against him, though he, himself, made them.
The news of Wynand’s reversal makes The Banner popular once again. Roark comes to see Wynand, but Wynand’s secretary informs him that Wynand will never see him again. Roark writes a letter to Wynand stating that he would apologize if such a thing were necessary between them. If Wynand can’t forgive himself, Roark will forgive him in his place. Wynand returns the letter unopened.
Dominique drives across three states to Roark’s home in Monadnock. Roark tells her that they should wait until Wynand heals, but Dominique does not believe he will ever heal. He denied the chance to heal when he wrote his article. Dominique spends the night and feels completely happy at last. In the morning, she dresses in Roark’s pajamas and calls the police, reporting that a sapphire ring was stolen. The police arrive, along with a couple of reporters, and a report is taken although it is obvious that there was no theft. Dominique views the scandal as a means to unite her and Roark in the eyes of the world. That afternoon, the story of Dominique and Roark’s affair is all over the newspapers. Scarret shows it to Wynand, who is not surprised. He gives Scarret permission to reprint the story. Scarret plans to blame all of Wynand’s troubles with Roark on Dominique. She will be portrayed as having forced Wynand to support Roark all along.
The first witness in Roark’s trial is Peter Keating, who states that he did not design the Cortlandt...
(The entire section is 603 words.)
Part 4, Chapters 19-20 Summary
Roger Enright buys the site of the Cortlandt housing project and clears it. He hires Roark to build his own project, which will be economical but open to anyone, regardless of their income. Wynand is granted his divorce; Dominique is publicly branded as an adulteress.
Ellsworth Toohey sues Wynand to get his job back and wins. Wynand calls Toohey and tells him to show up for work by 9:00 at night. Toohey arrives at ten minutes until nine, though only he and Wynand are in the office. He sits at his desk, and Wynand watches him. Toohey is not sure how to start, but he likes being back with the sound of the presses in the background. At nine o’clock, that sound stops and Wynand informs him that The Banner has ended and he is out of a job. Wynand eventually finds work at The Courier. He asks about the boss, Mr. Talbot, but the only response he receives is a voice from the loudspeaker that states, “Time marches on.”
Roark is summoned to Wynand’s almost-deserted office building. Wynand, keeping his emotional distance, hands Roark a contract to build the Wynand Building, the tallest skyscraper in New York. Wynand tells him that it will be the last skyscraper built because the world’s attention is now turned to housing projects, which is the last step to building caves. Roark is to build it according to whatever design he wishes. Wynand will not need to sign off on his approval of them. He tells Roark that it will no longer be built, as he had originally intended, as a symbol of Wynand’s life. Now it will be a monument to the spirit that guides Roark, the spirit that could have been Wynand’s.
Eighteen months later, Dominique arrives at the building site of the Wynand Building in Hell’s Kitchen. As she looks at the skeletal structure of the partially completed building, she thinks that the heart of the earth may be made of fire, but at times it breaks through the clay, the iron, and the granite, and shoots out to freedom. She observes the sign naming all the companies involved in different aspects of the project. She sees the sign with Roark’s name on it. Henry Cameron’s voice echoes across the years, signifying the victory that he had foreseen in Roark if he should be able to continue his fight to remain an individual amidst the collective. She walks to the superintendent’s shed and asks for Roark; she introduces herself as Mrs. Roark. As she is lifted up to the top of the...
(The entire section is 467 words.)