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.