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The Fountainhead

Ayn Rand

Part II: Chapters 11–15

Part II: Chapters 6–10

Part III: Chapters 1–4

Summary: Chapter 11

[Y]ou’ve gone beyond the probable and made us see the possible, but possible only through you. Because your figures are more devoid of contempt of humanity than any work I’ve ever seen.

(See Important Quotations Explained)

Peter Keating is unhappy with the completed Cosmo-Slotnick building, but Toohey tells Keating to give up his ego if he wants to be great. Roark goes to find Stephen Mallory, the sculptor who tried to kill Toohey. Mallory is shocked by Roark’s interest in his work and cries with relief at the knowledge that uncompromising men like Roark exist. The following morning, Mallory visits Roark and looks at the sketches for the Stoddard temple. Mallory agrees to sculpt a statue of the human spirit for the temple. Roark suggests Dominique for a model.

For the next few months, Roark works with brilliant intensity. He designs a horizontal temple, scaled to human height. He wants it to bring the sky down to man and allow visitors to find strength.

Summary: Chapter 12

In May, the corporation backing the Aquitania Hotel falls apart and construction is suspended. Kent Lansing promises Roark that one day he will finish the Aquitania. Stoddard abruptly cancels the imminent opening of the Stoddard Temple. The next day, Toohey writes a vicious criticism of the temple and Stoddard files suit against Roark for breach of contract and malpractice. Every newspaper in the city supports Stoddard. Toohey explains to Dominique that now people will remember Roark for botching a building. At the trial, many prominent architects in New York testify against Roark. Dominique testifies on Stoddard’s behalf, but actually defends Roark. She says the Stoddard Temple should be leveled because the world does not deserve it. Roark’s only defense is to submit ten photographs of the Stoddard Temple.

Summary: Chapter 13

Stoddard wins the suit. For her next column, Dominique submits her trial testimony, over Alvah Scarret’s objections. Dominique threatens to quit if the article is not printed, and the paper’s owner, Gail Wynand, orders Scarret to fire Dominique. Meanwhile, Katie goes to Toohey for advice. She is utterly unhappy in her job as a social worker and is beginning to hate the people she is supposed to help. Toohey tells Katie to relinquish her ego. Katie meekly agrees. Keating bitterly regrets his testimony against Roark at the Stoddard trial. He tells Katie he wants to marry her right away and that they will elope the next day. After he leaves, Katie shouts at Toohey that she is not afraid of him anymore.

Summary: Chapter 14

The same evening, Dominique asks Keating to marry her and he accepts. They drive to Connecticut and get married. That night, Dominique goes to Roark. After they make love, Dominique tells Roark for the first time that she loves him. She then tells him that she married Keating. Roark accepts the news quietly. Dominique tells Roark that she will punish herself by marrying Keating because she refuses to be happy in a world that does not appreciate Roark. Roark tells her that he loves her and will not stop her. He wants her whole and will wait for her to grow.

Summary: Chapter 15

The next morning, Dominique moves into Keating’s apartment. Keating’s marriage is a sham, but he takes pleasure in the envy of other men. The Stoddard Temple is redesigned by a group of architects and converted into the Stoddard Home for Subnormal Children. After completing the Cord skyscraper, Roark cannot find any work. The Wall Street Crash of 1929 has nearly ruined the building trades, and no one wants to take a chance on a scandalous architect. One night Roark goes to see the altered temple. Toohey emerges, taunts Roark, and asks Roark what he thinks of him. Roark says he doesn’t think of Toohey at all.

Analysis : Chapters 11–15

The media is the most powerful and despicable public institution in The Fountainhead. Although Rand published her novel before television became ubiquitous, newspapers and magazines are omnipresent in the novel and reach everybody. Toohey exploits and manipulates the media to its full extent. His mediocrity prevents him from expressing himself through his own art or architecture, but he reaches the public and hurts Roark with his column in the Banner. Because the media shapes opinions and knowledge, Toohey at first hurts Roark simply by failing to write about him and thus keeping him from the public eye. But Toohey must switch strategies after Roark becomes known, and he begins using his newspaper column to launch an attack on Roark’s reputation.

The extent of Toohey’s maliciousness becomes increasingly apparent in these chapters, as he manipulates Stoddard into hiring Roark, letting him begin the building, and then firing and suing him. Characters react to Toohey’s repulsiveness in different ways. Dominique thinks the horrible world deserves Toohey and his collectivist philosophy, and so she does not try to stop him. Stephen Mallory sees Toohey as the embodiment of the world’s brutal irrationality and tries to stop Toohey by shooting him. Howard Roark poses the greatest threat to Toohey and suffers the most at Toohey’s hands, and he reacts with cold indifference to the crazed columnist. When Toohey and Roark meet at Stoddard’s temple, Toohey expects the meeting to be a fiery clash between two powerful enemies. Instead, Toohey finds that Roark does not even think about him. Roark thinks of Toohey not as an equal, but as a distasteful nuisance. Roark’s ability to ignore Toohey confirms the latter’s mediocrity.

Dominique and Keating form an unhappy union that contrasts with the idyllic marriage that earlier seems possible between Katie and Keating. Both Katie and Keating feel that they could make each other happy; Keating could protect Katie from Toohey and Katie could make Keating feel honest and pure. Yet Keating is too weak and greedy to know what is good for him. Dominique and Keating marry not to find happiness, but because Dominique wants to punish herself. She hates living in a world that does not understand Roark, and to fight successfully on Roark’s behalf would mean stooping to the tactics of the world she hates. The marriage frustrates Keating, who enjoys the congratulations of his friends but fears his wife’s cold indifference.

Throughout The Fountainhead Rand illustrates Roark’s individuality and strength on conviction by highlighting his apathy toward or distaste for institutions. He gets expelled from the Stanton Institute of Technology because his designs are too modern and he is unwilling to conform to conventional standards. But this conservative reaction to his work does not faze him, and, wholly uninterested in working at a conventional design firm such as Francon & Heyer, he seeks to work for the individualistic Henry Cameron. Similarly, at the trial, in Chapter 12, Roark makes no attempt to put forth a defense that could actually win him the case. He does not care about the legal system or about triumphing in it; rather, he seeks only to defend the integrity of his work. He shows the same lack of concern for marriage; because he sees it as a meaningless formality, he feels no jealousy toward Keating about his marriage to Dominique and feels no compunction about committing adultery with her. He considers all value systems but his own utterly irrelevant.

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