The Fountainhead

by Ayn Rand

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Part 4, Chapters 10-12 Summary

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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 night watchman to get her some gas from a station a mile away. Then she is to hide in the trench and be found in the same condition as her car. She follows his directions, hears an explosion while she is in the trench, and sees the Cortlandt homes crumble to the ground. She goes to her car, slashes her arms, legs, and neck, and is found bleeding to death when the firemen arrive.

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