Skip over navigation

The Fountainhead

Ayn Rand

Part III: Chapters 1–4

Part II: Chapters 11–15

Part III: Chapters 5–9

Summary: Chapter 1

Newspaper magnate Gail Wynand is contemplating a new real estate venture called Stoneridge. Toohey recommends Keating as the architect for Stoneridge. When Wynand is skeptical, Toohey tells Wynand he should meet Dominique Keating before deciding. Toohey also tells Wynand he has a present that will convince Wynand. Later that evening, Wynand digs into his past to find a memory that will convince him to live.

Wynand grew up in the gang-infested Hell’s Kitchen section of Manhattan. He had no use for the neighborhood schools and began working as a boy at a local paper called the Gazette. When the Gazette tried to frame an honest man, Wynand turned to one of his journalistic idols for help. When his idol refused to help, Wynand began to feel contempt for men of integrity. A few years later, Wynand seized control of a local paper from a political gang. He renamed the paper the Banner. In its first big campaign, the paper tried to solicit money from its readers on behalf of two people: a brilliant young scientist and the pregnant girlfriend of an executed murderer. The donations for the pregnant girl overwhelmed the donations for the scientist, which indicated to Wynand what the paper should cover if he wanted it to be popular. At the age of thirty-five, Wynand owned papers across the United States.

Wynand now keeps a secret art gallery filled with masterpieces. After his meeting with Toohey, Wynand finds a large crate waiting for him. He opens it and finds Mallory’s statue of Dominique inside. Wynand calls Toohey and agrees to meet Dominique.

Summary: Chapter 2

One evening, Keating and Dominique talk. Keating observes that there is no real Dominique anymore and wonders aloud what has hap-pened to her soul. Dominique replies by asking about Keating’s soul, observing that Keating himself has no opinions of his own. Keating is about to agree when a phone call from Toohey interrupts him. Toohey says Wynand wishes to meet with Dominique to discuss Stoneridge.

Summary: Chapter 3

When they meet, Dominique and Wynand connect instantly. Dominique, who is just as beautiful as her statue, impresses Wynand. She offers to sleep with Wynand if he will give the Stoneridge contract to Keating, but Wynand correctly guesses that Dominique only makes this offer because the thought of sleeping with him repulses her. Wynand’s insight surprises Dominique. Later, Wynand meets Keating and Dominique at an elegant restaurant. Wynand tells Keating that he will give him Stoneridge in exchange for Dominique. A week later, Wynand takes Dominique to see his art collection.

Summary: Chapter 4

Wynand and Dominique go for a long cruise on Wynand’s yacht, the I Do. Wynand tells Dominique that when he was a child people had always told him he didn’t run things, and the yacht’s name is meant to contradict those people. The cruise is peaceful and comfortable. Wynand tells Dominique he is in love with her and asks her to marry him. His proposal shocks Dominique. She begins to question all of her assumptions about Wynand. When Dominique remembers the Stoddard Temple and the Banner’s campaign against Roark, she agrees to marry Wynand.

Analysis: Chapters 1–4

Wynand is the only character in The Fountainhead who does not fit neatly into a category, and the only truly tragic one as well. Wynand resembles Roark; both men are self-made, dynamic, and gifted. Unlike Roark, however, he became disillusioned after his early idols turned out to be shams. Like Toohey, Wynand sells himself to the public for power and devotes his life to proving his conviction that no one with true integrity actually exists. Wynand thus belongs to both Roark and Toohey’s world, and Dominique has a mixed reaction to Wynand because of his dual nature. Wynand’s contempt for beauty repels Dominique, but his strength attracts her. Wynand’s secret art gallery suggests the tragedy of a split identity. The art gallery is Wynand’s prosthetic spirit, a substitute for the private soul he gave up during his rise to power. The beauty of the works in the gallery inspires and nourishes Wynand, but also pains him. He knows that he will never put his love for beauty over his shallow public self.

Rand times Wynand’s entrance into the narrative to maximize his importance to the novel’s characters and events. We feel Wynand’s power and influence from the beginning, but until now the man himself has not appeared. When Wynand finally enters the story, we are as surprised as Dominique to find that this shadowy figure possesses some of the virtues The Fountainhead idealizes. The story of Wynand’s lost idealism suggests that an encounter with Roark will stir up old feelings in Wynand, especially because we see Roark’s sway over other strong figures. Upon meeting Roark, the sculptor Mallory, for example, changes his mind and decides that incorruptible men do exist. Similarly, Dominique’s meeting with Roark causes her to reevaluate her worldview. This evidence of Roark’s power makes us anticipate an explosive first encounter between Roark and Wynand.

Keating’s fireside conversation with Dominique in Chapter 2 demonstrates his ability to think honestly and purely. At times, Keating is able to understand that a void is inside him, although he never finds the strength to fill that void. Keating sees Roark’s existence as an insult to his world and its standards, but he also understands Roark’s greatness. Keating has always hated Roark, but this hatred is just a redirected contempt for Keating’s own weakness. Although Keating does not redeem his flaws, his knowledge of his crimes and his grudging admiration of Roark make him less despicable than many of his colleagues, who remain happily ignorant of their shortcomings. Keating becomes a pitiable figure, completely overmastered by Dominique. Although Keating provokes our contempt, it seems that Dominique treats him with more cruelty than he deserves.

More Help

Previous Next

Readers' Notes allow users to add their own analysis and insights to our SparkNotes—and to discuss those ideas with one another. Have a novel take or think we left something out? Add a Readers' Note!

Follow Us