The Fountainhead

by: Ayn Rand

Part IV: Chapters 1–5

Summary Part IV: Chapters 1–5

Summary: Chapter 5

Wynand begins to feel disgusted when he is at work. Whenever this happens, Wynand telephones Roark and asks to see him. Meanwhile, it tortures Dominique to know that Roark is so close to her and yet impossible to reach. She understands that Roark is still testing her. She tells herself over and over again that she would do anything for him.

Analysis: Chapters 1–5

Keating’s weakness has made him fade in importance, and Wynand takes over Keating’s earlier role as a foil for Roark. Wynand’s presence clarifies the novel’s definition of strength as a quality that comes from independence, not power and dominance. Roark has true strength, and Wynand does not. Rand emphasizes that the men themselves, not circumstances, shaped their personalities. She gives the men the same background to argue that if Roark could transcend his early years, then Wynand could have done the same. Like Keating, Wynand comes from a poor family, makes his own fortune, and understands the importance of beauty and integrity. But whereas Roark chooses to ignore the corrupt outside world, Wynand lowers himself to the level of that world, grabbing as much power and control as he can. Neither man wants to compromise, but Roark correctly believes that even small compromises corrupt a man. Wynand mistakenly believes that compromising along the way is acceptable, for he aims to win so much power that he will never again have to compromise. Wynand does not understand that strength lies in independence and self-reliance, not control.

When Wynand and Roark finally meet, Wynand immediately recognizes that Roark completes him. He decides he must redeem himself by changing his relationship with the world. Like Dominique, Wynand first tests Roark by trying to corrupt him, offering him work on condition that Roark relinquish artistic control. Once Roark passes the test by refusing the offer, Wynand realizes that Roark is a truly principled man. Wynand had founded his cynical worldview on the idea that incorruptible men like Roark do not exist, so when Roark resists Wynand’s offers and threats, Wynand has to change his worldview. Although Wynand welcomes the change, he finds it difficult to enact, for it involves dismantling the ugliness Wynand has spent a lifetime creating.

Toohey’s influence spreads and grows, but the power of Roark’s work intensifies, which suggests Rand’s belief that art can combat evil. Roark’s work begins to attract a national audience. The Monadnock resort is a triumph for Roark, for despite the fact that the project is set up specifically to fail, he manages to create a place of beauty that people love instinctively. Roark reaches both the masses and individuals through his work. Rand believes that art saves souls and lives, and, in Part IV, Chapter 1, his Monadnock resort does indeed save a young man. This young man feels alienated and resigned to a lifetime of desperation and need, but a simple glimpse of Monadnock rejuvenates his spirit. Rand wants to bring solace to readers with The Fountainhead just as Roark brings solace to the young man with his resort complex. The Fountainhead is an anthem for the indestructible spirit of humankind. Roark embodies the joy and spirit of humankind and his creations are proof that perfection is possible in this messy world.