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The Fountainhead

  • Study Guide
Summary

Part II: Chapters 6–10

Summary Part II: Chapters 6–10

Analysis: Chapters 6–10

Dominique and Roark’s love affair demonstrates the novel’s premise that real passion involves struggle and submission. Dominique admires Roark intensely and wants to protect him from the world’s stupidity, but because she wants to test Roark’s strength she tries to destroy him in print and rob him of his commissions. Dominique pits herself against Roark in hopes that he will foil her attempts to ruin him, which would thus disprove her cynical view of the world. Roark understands her actions perfectly, and the public antagonism between Roark and Dominique does not drive them apart, but brings them together. Dominique’s attempts to crush Roark drive the normally frigid pair to a state of ecstasy.

Rand contrasts the harsh and exquisite love of Dominique and Roark with the tender cuddling of Keating and Katie. Keating and Katie always treat each other with consideration and consequently their love feels flat and devoid of real sexual charge. They also lack the intuitive understanding of one another that Dominique and Roark enjoy. Roark always understands what motivates Dominique’s behavior, even when she acts in ways that most people would find perverse or inexplicable. Keating seems to misunderstand the most basic facts about Katie, not noticing, for example, that her very soul is being threatened by her uncle. Even in love affairs, The Fountainhead favors the strong over the weak, praising the violence of Roark’s relationship over the meekness of Keating’s relationship.

Rand shows us that Toohey’s lifework will never succeed. He spends his days trying to destroy the exceptional. He wants to convince the world that mediocrity is the greatest attribute, thereby robbing mankind of its idealism and ambition. However, Toohey can never destroy every genius and he can never persuade everyone to aim for mediocrity. Theoretical sympathy for the masses motivates Toohey, who sees the accomplishments of great men as insults to the millions who cannot achieve greatness in their own right. Tooley’s motivation is also personal. He knows that he will never join the ranks of the elite, so instead of wasting his energy attempting to join them, he attempts to destroy them. He believes that if he can convince the world that mediocrity is the greatest of attributes, if he can rob mankind of its idealism and hope, if he can flatten all of society into a smooth mass of unexceptional men, then he can become a great man. In order to achieve his goals, Toohey employs the language and arguments of religion and socialism. Rand was both a staunch atheist and a great antisocialist. She found that both religion and socialism ask humans to renounce themselves for a greater good. Such renunciation of the ego is dangerous, argues Rand, as it opens an individual up to manipulation. She makes both of these systems unappealing to us by making them the ideals of the repellant Toohey.