The Fountainhead

by Ayn Rand

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Part 1, Chapters 13-15 Summary

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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 will not win the competition before Heyer dies. He goes to visit the ailing man and tries to blackmail him, but Heyer dies from a fatal stroke. A few days later, Keating learns that Heyer made him his heir and his successor at the firm—and he won the competition. Overnight, Keating becomes a media sensation. He fears that the truth will be discovered, so he tries to bribe Roark to keep him quiet. Roark returns the check, stating that it is a bribe to keep Keating quiet. Roark does not want it to be known that he had any part in the design of that building.

Roark is offered the commission for a bank building, with some compromises in the façade. Roark refuses to compromise and turns down the commission. He goes to Mike and asks him to find him a job in the construction end of the business. Mike finds him a job working in a quarry in Connecticut, where Dominique Francon is spending the summer.

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Part 1, Chapters 10-12 Summary

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Part 2, Chapters 1-3 Summary