The Fountainhead

by Ayn Rand

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Part 1, Chapters 7-9 Summary

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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, Keating goes to visit Francon and finds a beautiful young girl calling on him. She is Dominique, Francon’s daughter, and she has written a negative review of a private residence designed by Keating. Francon is furious but Dominique refuses to back down. Keating hopes to meet her, though he recognizes that this might prove to be a mistake.

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