The Fountainhead

by: Ayn Rand

Part IV: Chapters 16–20

Summary: Chapter 16

The board of investors of the Banner calls an emergency meeting. Many of the paper’s advertisers have left and the paper is inching toward ruin. Wynand knows he will have to shut down the Banner if he does not compromise. He walks the streets of New York in torment. In the end, Wynand gives in. As he does so, he has the distinct sensation of putting a gun to his head and pulling the trigger. The next day, the Banner prints a formal apology for defending Roark, signed by Wynand.

Summary: Chapter 17

People all over the city see the headline and buy the paper. Roark forgives Wynand in a letter, but Wynand returns the letter unopened. Dominique goes to Roark’s house in Monadnock Valley. Roark almost rejects her for Wynand’s sake, but realizes that she is right in thinking that Wynand will never recover his lost principles. Dominique finally feels complete enough to love Roark forever and they make love to consummate their renewed relationship. The next morning, Dominique calls the local police to report a stolen ring. The police arrive with two reporters, and when Dominique greets them in Roark’s pajamas, she makes it obvious that she and Roark are sleeping together. Dominique explains to Roark that she wants the scandal to unite them against the world.

The story about Dominique and Roark appears in every newspaper in New York. Alvah Scarret advises Wynand to divorce Dominique and Wynand agrees. When Wynand returns home, he finds Dominique waiting. She tells him that Roark is the man she has always loved. Later, Guy Francon calls. Dominique expects him to be angry, but he is glad because he knows Roark is the right man for her. Scarret wants to use the Dominique scandal to bolster the paper’s poor circulation. Wynand agrees, and the Banner runs an article saying that Dominique forced Wynand to defend her lover. Thousands of letters of condolence pour in and the public forgives Wynand.

Summary: Chapter 18

Roark represents himself at his trial. He deliberately chooses the least sympathetic jury possible. When Keating is called to the witness stand, he lifelessly states that Roark designed Cortlandt and that he began to fear Roark after the project changed. Roark does not call any witnesses. He declares his principles in a moving speech, describing creators as great men who feed the world with their genius. They do this because it is man’s nature to seek truth and to create, not to serve their fellow man. Roark condemns “second-handers,” men who feed on the souls of creators. He warns that altruism has even corrupted the great nation of the United States, a country built by brilliant men. Roark says he gave the Cortlandt to his fellow men, but he destroyed it because he could not stand to see it corrupted. The jury leaves the room briefly and then finds Roark not guilty. Roark looks at Wynand, who leaves without a word.

Summary: Chapter 19

The millionaire Roger Enright purchases the Cortlandt site from the government and hires Roark to rebuild the project. The new housing complex will charge reasonable rents for tenants of all incomes while still making a profit for Enright. The city’s labor board orders Wynand to rehire Toohey. Toohey returns to his office and tries to ignore Wynand. After ten minutes, the presses stop and Wynand informs Toohey that the Banner no longer exists and that Toohey is out of a job. Toohey goes to work for an upscale New York paper and immediately begins making inquiries about the publisher’s beliefs. A few months later, Roark visits Wynand in Wynand’s office. Wynand asks Roark to design a structure to be called the Wynand Building as an act of defiance against the world. Wynand tells Roark to design the building as a monument to the spirit that Roark possesses.

Summary: Chapter 20

Eighteen months later, Dominique walks to the construction site of the Wynand Building. She steps onto an outside hoist that lifts her up past the finished masonry line and into the naked steel and space of the building. At the very top of the building, so high that he is the only thing visible besides the ocean and the sky, stands her husband, Howard Roark.