The Fountainhead

by Ayn Rand

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Part 4, Chapters 16-18 Summary

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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 homes; Roark did. He testifies that he feared Roark after the designs were changed. He reads the contract Toohey took from him. Roark chooses not to cross-examine him. Instead, he takes the stand himself. He gives a moving speech in which he traces the status of the individual throughout the history of the world, and he states that each person who chose to fulfill his own vision was persecuted for that courage. The individual does not demand the sacrifice from others; he refuses to use others. He confesses that he designed Cortlandt homes but it was not built according to the agreement. He did not take it from the poor; he was the one who gave it to them. The poor had no right to demand that gift. The highest purpose for each person is to live for himself. The jury quickly reaches a verdict of not guilty. Roark looks first at Wynand, who is the first person to leave the courtroom.

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