The Fountainhead

by Ayn Rand

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Part 4, Chapters 1-3 Summary

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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 them and offers Roark a contract on one condition: after the Wynand home is built, Roark will never again design buildings according to his own vision; he will be Wynand’s exclusive architect on all future buildings, which will be built according to traditional public taste. Roark quickly agrees and sketches a design of a traditional home of “excellent taste.” When Wynand sees it, he knows he cannot force Roark to give up his independent vision as an architect. He invites Roark to dinner with his wife in order to show her the designs. Roark accepts.

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