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Cosmo-Slotnick Pictures plans to build an enormous
skyscraper and holds an international competition to select an architect.
Francon encourages Keating to submit a design in the firm’s name.
Keating knows his messy design cannot win the contest. Shamefaced,
he goes to see Roark, who works all night reshaping Keating’s design.
After months without work, Roark’s money begins to run out. One
day, Cameron’s sister tells Roark that Cameron is dying. Roark hurries
to New Jersey to see Cameron. As he dies, Cameron tells Roark to
ignore his earlier warnings and pursue his goals without ever compromising.
Keating asks Katie if they can put off their marriage
until the results of the Cosmo-Slotnick competition arrive. If Keating
wins, he will become a partner in the firm and win a secure salary.
Keating spends most of his time with Dominique and tries to kiss
her one night. Indifferent to his passion, she tells him she believes
herself to be completely frigid. Keating again feels panic and fear
but remembers Dominique is Francon’s daughter and asks her to marry
him. The proposal surprises Dominique, but she promises him seriously that
she will marry him if she ever needs to punish herself.
Keating grows anxious about the outcome of the Cosmo-Slotnick competition.
Lucius Heyer is dying, and his position at Francon & Heyer will
soon become vacant. If Keating does not win the competition, Francon
may decide to offer the partnership to someone else. Keating has
evidence that Heyer once inflated construction estimates and goes
to Heyer’s home to blackmail him into retiring before the results
of the competition are announced. While begging Keating not to expose
him, Heyer suffers a second stroke and dies. To his shock, Keating
discovers that deep inside he wanted to kill Heyer. A few days later,
Keating discovers that Heyer left him his entire estate and that
he has won the Cosmo-Slotnick competition.
Keating becomes an overnight celebrity, but frets over
the fact that Dominique despises him and that Roark actually created
the prizewinning design. After Dominique leaves to spend the summer at
her home in Connecticut, Keating decides to go see the penniless Roark.
When Keating arrives, Roark is waiting for a phone call from a bank,
which is his only prospective project. Keating writes Roark a check
for five hundred dollars to keep quiet about his help on the Cosmo-Slotnick
building. Roark returns the check on the condition that Keating
never mention Roark’s involvement with such a mediocre structure.
Keating reels at this insult and breaks down. Before Keating leaves,
he vows to break Roark. A few days later, the bank that is Roark’s
only potential customer tells him that they will hire him to design
a simple Greek façade in keeping with its image as a sound financial
institution. Roark refuses to compromise and refuses the contract,
even though it means shutting down his office. Roark asks Mike for
a job and Mike refers him to a granite quarry in Connecticut.
With each decision they make, Roark and Keating solidify
their personalities and walk farther down the paths they have chosen.
Rand sets up a particularly sharp contrast between the two men by
putting them in identical situations, setting them down by the bedside
of dying men who are also their architectural elders. Roark rushes
to the dying man he respects. From his deathbed, Cameron confirms all
of Roark’s most deeply felt beliefs. In complete contrast, Keating rushes
to the bed of a dying man in order to threaten him with humiliation.
His cruelty kills Heyer, and Keating understands his own murderous
impulses for the first time.
We already know that by nature Roark is determined and
independent, and he demonstrates that his nature cannot be swayed
by adversity. He confirms his strength by refusing to compromise
his principles no matter what the cost. In a particularly impressive
gesture, Roark rejects the bank commission even though it means
sacrificing his business. His rejection of the commission is all
the more striking in that the commission would have required only
a small compromise. The other clients Roark refuses differ fundamentally from
his vision, but the bankers request only a small change in his design.
While Roark reveals the extent of his strength, Keating reveals
the extent of his repellant personality. Keating combines seemingly
irreconcilable character flaws. He is at once the cringing mama’s
boy who cannot think for himself and the murderous bully who kills
Heyer with his scare tactics. Keating becomes more loathsome with
While Keating lusts for recognition, Roark abhors it.
Keating wants to become partner in the firm not because he craves
money or power, but because he thinks this position will make others
look on him as a genius. In contrast, Roark makes a point of avoiding
recognition. Although Mike works on Roark’s houses and Cameron and Heller
recommend him to clients, Roark never solicits these kindnesses.
Roark knows that the kind of men who admire him are, like him, hardworking
and uncompromising. They would not appreciate pandering even if
he were inclined to pander.
Dominique has elements of both Keating and Roark, as
her frigidity shows. Dominique accepts Keating’s advances with stoicism. She
does not resist him despite her clear lack of interest. The world interests
Dominique so little that passing judgment or mustering a strong
opinion seems strange to her. Like Roark, she reacts with bored dispassion
to personal encounters that would provoke rage, misery, or embarrassment
in most people. Dominique is frigid because she has never experienced
truly arousing passion. In this respect, she resembles Keating,
who does not know what he wants from life because he has never had
any experiences worth mentioning.
Ace your assignments with our guide to The Fountainhead!