Summary: Chapter 1

Howard Roark finds hard but satisfying work at the Francon granite quarry. Dominique lives alone on her father’s estate, a few miles from the quarry. She spends most of her time walking through the countryside. On one particularly hot day she visits her father’s quarry. There she sees Roark drilling away at the rock. Their eyes meet and his gaze is one of ownership. She immediately hates him because she knows she could fall in love with him. Later, Dominique fights the desire to visit the quarry again but cannot help herself. Roark looks at her with the same intense gaze. Several days later, they meet at the quarry. Their first real encounter is intimate. Dominique wants to know that Roark suffers and asks him if the work is tiresome. Roark tells her that sometimes he cannot move his arms at night. Dominique asks him why he works there and he replies that he is there for the money she pays him.

Summary: Chapter 2

Every day, Dominique fights the compulsion to visit Roark. She eventually begins to feel safe in her house, but wants to test her resolve. Dominique makes a long scratch in the marble fireplace and hires Roark to repair the damage. He casually agrees to come, making her weak with shame and pleasure. When Roark arrives at Dominique’s house, he splits the marble and offers to order a new piece of stone. When the marble arrives, Dominique sends for Roark, but he sends an old laborer in his place. Later, at the quarry, Dominique asks Roark why he sent the other worker, and he wonders why she cares. Three evenings later, Dominique is sitting in her bedroom when Roark enters. He takes her in his arms roughly. She fights him, but he overpowers her. Roark then rapes her like “a master taking shameful, contemptuous possession” of a slave. Dominique realizes that this humiliation is exactly what she wants and that if Roark had behaved tenderly, she would have remained cold. Roark leaves without a word.

A week later, an industrialist named Roger Enright hires Roark and Roark leaves for New York. When Dominique discovers that Roark has left, she feels relief that she is no longer vulnerable, and reasons that she will never see him again.

Summary: Chapter 3

Peter Keating is enjoying his newfound success when he receives an envelope from Ellsworth Toohey. Inside the envelope is a draft of Toohey’s next column, a dazzling tribute to Keating and his work. Toohey also encloses a request for a meeting with Keating. Later that day, Keating learns that a sculptor named Stephen Mallory has tried to kill Toohey. Keating’s first reaction to this news is to wonder whether Toohey’s article will still be published. The attack leaves Toohey uninjured. Keating visits Toohey as soon as he can. A thin, narrow-chested, fragile little man, Toohey is not at all what Keating expected, but the two men get along well. Toohey asks Keating to join an informal group of young architects Toohey is putting together. He tells Keating that the group will meet once in a while to share ideas, and that Keating can be chairman.

Summary: Chapter 4

Toohey invites Keating to tea. Katie is there, but she sits silently staring into space. Toohey interrogates Keating about Roark, even though Toohey has never mentioned Roark in his column. Toohey also arranges a commission for Keating. Lois Cook, a fashionable author who writes complicated but empty books, wants to build the ugliest house in New York. Keating accepts the project.

Summary: Chapter 5

Dominique returns to New York. She is at work at the Banner when Toohey visits her. He notices a picture of the Enright House on her desk. She tells him that an architect who could conceive such a beautiful thing should never allow it to be erected for people to ruin. She adds that the building is too good for men like Toohey. The Council of American Builders, Toohey’s group of architects, has a first meeting. Of its eighteen members, only two are distinguished. The members denounce the state of modern architecture but offer no suggestions for improvement. Toohey delivers a melodramatic speech that Dominique interrupts. The council members feel uncomfortable in her presence. After the meeting, Keating tries to kiss Dominique, but his advances repulse her. He demands to know whom she has met. She tells him about the workman in Connecticut.

Analysis: Chapters 1–5

In these chapters, Rand begins to reveal more of Dominique’s motivations and nature. Dominique is a masochist who refuses to let herself become attached to anything or anyone and lives her life amidst the very things that torture her. She loathes society specifically because she so passionately believes in human perfection and views society as a threat to this perfection. She has a great appreciation for what is pure, beautiful, and strong, and she firmly believes that the world destroys all that is good. This sentiment grips her so strongly that she would rather break a perfect vase than see it used by the unworthy. All around her she finds men without character and men who borrow their beliefs and principles from others. She hates such men not because of their failings but because she sees them ruin the world, and she thus lives her life in a cold, spiteful way. She refuses to love anyone or anything for fear that the world will destroy what she loves, and she surrounds herself with those people she likes the least, knowing that she will be in no danger of falling in love with them. Dominique’s encounter with Roark derails her loveless existence, as she finds herself caring for a man with vision and character. True to her philosophy, she does not celebrate this turn of events. She fears the world will destroy this good man, so she decides to destroy him first.

Rand presents Dominique’s rape as a violent but necessary encounter—as just what Dominique needs. Her depiction of woman as stubborn and frigid and man as masterful and healing might shock the modern reader. It should shock, and is partly meant to shock, but it is also not quite an act of sexual violence between two lifelike characters. Rand shapes characters that are symbols, not real people. Thus the coupling of Roark and Dominique is the coupling of symbols, not the coupling of people, and the rape is more an abstract meditation on violence and frigidity than the hideous violation of a woman by a man. Roark’s rape of Dominique dramatizes the violence and force of their mental union. Although Roark is the rapist, he is also the victim, for he cannot resist Dominique and becomes a slave to his passions. Dominique resists not just Roark, but her own attraction to Roark. By fighting him, Dominique tries to rid herself of her desires. Neither character utters a word during the rape, a silence that suggests the oneness of their minds and contrasts with the physicality of the encounter. Rand foreshadows the rape when Dominique first sees Roark drilling at the granite quarry and cannot stop staring at him. She resents her fascination with him and hopes that Roark will succumb to the difficulty of the task. Instead, he continues and manages to crack the rock, in a gesture symbolizing his later success at shattering Dominique’s emotional wall.

Toohey’s character also develops significantly in these chapters, and we see his influence and social control grow. Toohey wants to change the nature of the social soil so that men like Roark can never grow again. He destroys beauty, such as that which Roark embodies, and in its place enshrines mediocrity, such as that which Keating embodies. Once Toohey has made gods of people like Keating, the truly talented cannot compete. He tells the small circle of young architects that beauty lies in the small and the everyday. He does not encourage them to look to abstract ideals or demanding standards. He does not expect anything of them and thus they are entirely comfortable achieving nothing too large. Toohey, in his championing of the common and the average, is the antithesis of everything for which Roark stands and for which Dominique yearns: genius, independence, and perfection. In Rand’s scheme of the world, a handful of men like Roark create, produce, and inspire, while a larger, swarming majority huddle together to destroy, level, and belittle. True rebellion is born in the hearts of independent men, and through his influence Toohey tries to wipe the world clean of such men. Only when genius is eradicated can someone like Toohey hold power.