The Fountainhead Summary and Analysis
by Ayn Rand
Part II, Chapters 1-5
Howard Roark has been working in the granite quarry for two months. All he asks is that he think of nothing but the granite in front of him and the tool in his hand. He likes the work, struggling with the stone and getting exhausted every day. He stays in the village with the other workers and eats with them, but he is apart from them. Sometimes he enjoys lying in the grass as he studies the colors and shapes around him. All the while, however, he suffers from thinking about all the buildings he could be building--all the work he could be doing.
Meanwhile, Dominique Francon is spending her summer vacation alone in her father's mansion three miles from the granite quarry. The quarry is owned by Guy Francon. The only other people at the mansion are the caretaker and his wife. Dominique enjoys the solitude and the knowledge that the people who provide her comforts make themselves invisible. When she sees another person, she has "the sensation of a defiled pleasure." She takes long walks and horseback rides and enjoys listening to the sound of the blasting in the quarry because it is "the sound of destruction."
One morning Dominique forces herself to take a walk to the quarry, for she takes pleasure in making herself do things that she hates. She enjoys the painful contrast of her own cool beauty and the misery of the workers below her. Suddenly she sees Roark and cannot stop looking at him. She knows "it was the most beautiful face she would ever see, because it was the abstraction of strength made visible." The foreman sees her and shows her around, but all the while she is thinking of the red-haired man she has seen.
When Dominique returns to the mansion, she cannot stop thinking of Roark, especially his hands. She is disgusted by her pleasure, but at the same time she enjoys how her pleasure degrades her. For two days she makes a pretense of preparing to leave, but finally she goes back to the quarry and watches Roark. She hopes that he has a jail record. Finally she approaches him and challenges him for staring at her. He replies only that he stares at her "for the same reason [she's] been staring at [him]." She orders him not to look at her anymore, and he refuses. He speaks to her coolly and respectfully.
Dominique lives to stop herself from going to the quarry. Her freedom has been destroyed, for she knows that "a continuous struggle against the compulsion of a single desire [is] compulsion also." She goes to visit people, and one night a young poet drives her home from a party and tries to kiss her. She flees from the car, revolted. She is confused because through many such incidents she had never felt anything at all. She realizes that the man in the quarry wants her, and suddenly she feels power over him.
She wants to see the man suffer for her. She chips some marble in her house, then goes to the quarry and tells him she has a job for him. He agrees to come to her house that night, but she leaves angry because he has acted as if there were nothing unusual about her request. Later she realizes that his casual acceptance reveals some intimacy. When he comes that night, she realizes that "she had expected him to seem incongruous in her house; but it was the house that seemed incongruous around him." He goes to the fireplace and breaks the piece of marble in half, telling her, "Now it's broken and has to be replaced." As he works, Dominique is acutely aware of the contrast between his dusty clothes and the objects in her bedroom. He tells her that the fireplace is "atrocious" and tells her about the different kinds and grades of marble. When he finishes, she calculates his pay, 48 cents, and gives him a dollar. He says only, "Thank you, Miss Francon," and departs. She is furious.
Dominique Francon waits feverishly for the new marble. When it comes, she sends a note to the quarry, but that night the man who comes is "a short, squat, middle-aged Italian with bow legs, a gold hoop in one ear and a frayed hat held respectfully in both hands." Dominique goes to the quarry against her own aversion to going, and she asks Roark why he did not come. He asks her why it makes any difference, and she hits his face with a tree branch and runs away.
Three days later, Roark enters her home, his clothes dusty, his face "drawn, austere in cruelty, ascetic in passion, the cheeks sunken, the lips pulled down, set tight." He comes to Dominique, and she fights him passionately but makes "no sound." He takes her
as an act of scorn. Not as love, but as defilement. And this made her lie still and submit. One gesture of tenderness from him--and she would have remained cold, untouched by the thing done to her body. But the act of a master taking shameful, contemptuous possession of her was the kind of rapture she had wanted.
When he is done, Roark gets up and leaves. Dominique drags herself towards the bathroom for a bath and sees herself, purple and bruised, in the mirror. She knows she will not bathe, because she wants to keep the feeling of his body on her. She collapses on the bathroom floor and remains there until morning.
Roark wakes up and thinks of Dominique. He knows that "had she meant less to him, he would not have taken her as he did; had he meant less to her, she would not have fought so desperately." He continues to think of her at the quarry, though he does not think she will come, and she does not. He does not need to see her. He takes pleasure in knowing that she exists.
He reads in the paper that Roger Enright still has not found an architect, and he feels a stab of pain. He is surprised when he realizes that he also thinks of Dominique Francon. A week later he finds a letter forwarded to him through Mike from Roger Enright, stating that he would like to discuss the house with him. He is on a train in half an hour.
Dominique thinks about Roark and is more furious in her knowledge that it is not the rape, but the fact that she took pleasure in it, that has bothered her so much. She knows she will never forget that he gave her "the degradation she had wanted and she hate[s] him for it." One morning she gets a letter from Alvah Scarret asking her when she will return to New York, and she thinks about what he would say if he knew.
After a week she realizes that she has not seen him for that long, so she rushes to the quarry. She learns he left for New York the day before. She leaves, knowing she is safe so long as she does not ask for his name. She has something to fight against now, and she wins so long as she never asks for his name.
Keating likes to see if he or his Cosmo-Slotnick building is mentioned in the newspapers. One day he sees a story about a man leaving Ellsworth Toohey $100,000. Toohey immediately turned the money over to a progressive institute of learning, commenting that he did not believe in private inheritance. Keating is impressed because this is something he would never be able to do. He remembers that he has not yet been able to meet Toohey.
Keating has to pick a new sculptor for the Cosmo-Slotnick building because the first sculptor, Steven Mallory, produced "a slender naked body of a man who looked as if he could break through the steel plate of a battleship and through any barrier whatsoever." As Keating thinks about different sculptors, he enjoys the power he has over their fates. Suddenly, he notices an envelope on his desk. It contains a proof copy of Mr. Toohey's column, "One Small Voice." Its title is "KEATING." Keating realizes it gives homage to his greatness as an architect and provides a detailed analysis of the brilliance of the Cosmo-Slotnick building. Keating notices a note at the top of the article from Toohey, asking Keating to come by his office sometime. Immediately, Keating makes an appointment with Toohey's secretary for the next day.
When Keating returns from lunch, a young draftsman asks him who it was who "took a shot at Ellsworth Toohey." Shocked, Keating worries whether the column will be published the next day. In the afternoon paper, Keating reads that the shot missed Toohey and that Toohey afterwards acted as if nothing unusual had happened. The shooter was Stephen Mallory, who refused to give any explanation for his actions. There was no connection between Mallory and Toohey. Toohey said he would not press charges, but Mallory was in jail awaiting trial.
That night Keating lies awake, afraid, knowing that he never wants to learn Mallory's motive. The next day, Toohey looks to him like "a chicken just emerging from the egg, in all the sorry fragility of unhardened bones," but his clothes are tremendously good. Toohey's eyes "held such a wealth of intellect and of twinkling gaiety that his glasses seemed to be worn not to protect his eyes but to protect other men from their excessive brilliance." Toohey rhapsodizes about the beauty of the "temple of Nike Apteros," asking Keating what he thinks of it. Keating attempts to keep up with the conversation and feels incredibly at home with Toohey, who seems to acknowledge the falseness of their situation. Toohey speaks again about f how great an architect Keating is and how great the Cosmo-Slotnick building is, and suddenly Keating realizes that "Toohey knew he had not designed the plan of the Cosmo-Slotnick Building." He is frightened because "he saw approval in Toohey's eyes." Keating becomes afraid in the growing realization that Toohey knows that everything they are saying is a lie.
Finally, Keating turns the conversation towards Toohey's close escape the day before. Toohey shrugs it off but asks about Mallory. Keating gives a general and prosaic explanation for Mallory's attack, and Toohey looks at him as though he can see his insides and is reassured. Toohey tells Keating that they will be "great friends." He asks Keating to be the chairman of a new group of architects is forming. Keating is extremely flattered. The conversation almost immediately turns to a young authoress in whom Toohey has taken an interest, Lois Cook. Only as Toohey escorts Keating to the door does he remark that Keating is engaged to his niece, Catherine. Keating tells him fervently and truthfully that he loves Catherine, and Toohey responds lightly and a little disparagingly, commenting that Catherine is "innocent and sweet and pretty and anemic."
On a Sunday morning, Keating attempts to read Lois Cook's book Clouds and Shrouds. He enjoys it because he is certain it is deep and meaningful--since he does not understand it. He looks at the paper and sees a reproduction of Roark's drawing of the Enright House, "a rising mass of rock crystal. Here was the same severe, mathematical order holding together a free, fantastic growth; straight lines and clean angles, space slashed with a knife, yet in a harmony of formation as delicate as the work of a jeweler." Keating looks at Cook's book and feels that it is somehow a defense against Roark. His mother comes in, sees the picture, and dismisses it immediately.
That night is Keating's first visit to Toohey's and Catherine's new home in a "distinguished residential hotel." Keating notices only that it is elegant, simple, and full of books before he is distracted by Toohey. He does "not like the way Catherine sat at the edge of a chair, hunched, her legs drawn awkwardly together." As Toohey makes light conversation, he slyly critiques Catherine, making Keating extremely uncomfortable. When Keating comes straight out and asks him if he approves, Toohey replies vaguely that it is a "superfluous question." They discuss the possible marriage until Keating comments that Catherine will have to give up her job at the Clifford Settlement House when they are married. Catherine, suddenly lively, insists that she loves her job in the day nursery and does not want to give it up. As she speaks eloquently about the children and her work, Keating sees her affection for her uncle, and Toohey begins to look at her much more seriously.
When she pauses, Keating changes the subject to the Enright house. He is incredibly happy when Toohey dismisses it. Keating tells Toohey about his past with Howard Roark, and Toohey asks him a series of strange questions that are not about architecture at all. When Toohey asks Keating whether Roark always wanted to be an architect, Keating tells him that Roark would "walk over corpses ... but he'd be an architect." Toohey returns to the possible group of young architects. He tells Keating that they are very pleased that Keating will be the chairman.
Keating takes Catherine out for a walk, but he suddenly begins to think of how ridiculous it looks to walk hand-in-hand. He wonders whether Catherine looks a bit anemic.
Later, Keating sits in Cook's living room, exceedingly uncomfortable, as they discuss the house she wants him to build her. He attempts to speak to her about how much he likes her books, but she seems irritated by his attempts to suggest he understands her work. He also learns that she is chairwoman of a group of writers started by Mr. Toohey. As they talk about Mr. Toohey, she seems to laugh at Keating, and he becomes confused. She tells him that she wants her house "to be ugly. Magnificently ugly." In response, Keating does not know what to do. He accepts the commission. After a while he stops feeling strange. The drawings appear in even more publications than the Cosmo-Slotnick house did, and people speak very respectfully of him.
Dominique Francon returns to New York three days after her last visit to the quarry. She hates the people on the streets because they might have links to Roark. She goes to the office of the Banner to resign, but at the last minute she changes her mind. One morning Ellsworth Toohey stops by to visit Dominique. She responds in her usual ironic way, and he tells her they will never be enemies. He sees that the article about the Enright House is on her desk, and she tells him that the builder should have killed himself rather than build such a perfect thing and allow it to be defiled by human beings.
At Stephen Mallory's trial the man refuses to defend himself. Ellsworth Toohey himself takes the stand and pleads for lenience. The judge gives Mallory a two-year suspended sentence.
At the first meeting of the young architects, Peter Keating is elected chairman unanimously. Of the group of eighteen, only Keating and Gordon L. Prescott are of any standing. Besides architects there is a contractor, a female interior decorator, and some draftsmen. They name themselves the "Council of American Builders," and Toohey gives a speech about the importance of architecture. He argues that architecture is the noblest of the arts because it creates shelter for mankind. Keating listens, enraptured and ennobled by Toohey's words.
The doorbell rings, and Dominique Francon walks in uninvited. After a nod from Toohey, she sits down and watches. Keating feels oddly uncomfortable at Dominique's presence. After the meeting, Toohey greets her and suggests that she join their club, but she refuses, commenting that she doesn't "hate [him] enough to do that." She asks why they did not invite Howard Roark to the meeting, and Keating experiences a jolt.
As Dominique leaves, Keating walks with her. He asks her what she has against their meeting, but she refuses to discuss it. As he helps her into her cab, he tells her he will not let her get away from him again. She turns to him, and for a moment he sees something different in her and seems to realize that she is no longer a virgin. He asks who it was, and she replies, "A workman in a granite quarry," which makes Keating laugh. Dominique tells Keating that she once thought she could want him, but now she knows she never will want him--and she wants never to see him again. She adds, "you're everything I despise in the world and I don't want to remember how much I despise it ... This is not an insult to you, Peter ... You're not the worst of the world. You're its best. That's what's frightening." As angry as he is, Keating cannot let her go, and he tells her, "I'll never give you up." She accepts his words and drives away.
Part 2 of The Fountainhead is titled "Ellsworth M. Toohey." This name immediately suggests that Toohey will dominate this section and that Toohey's full character will be revealed. At first it is difficult to understand how either of these things will happen, for the first section focuses predominantly on Dominique Francon and Howard Roark. One way to explain this imbalance is to recognize Toohey as the omnipresent observer. When Dominique and Roark meet, they are out of Toohey's range of vision, but as soon as they come back to New York, the reader waits to see how he will discover their relationship and how he will make use of it.
Dominique’s meeting with Roark is one of the most important scenes in the novel. Unlike August Heller or Mike or any of Roark's other allies, Dominique recognizes Roark from the first moment she sees him. She does not need to see his drawings or hear him talk about his work. Before she meets Roark, Dominique appears weak and erratic. Her philosophy, as she explains it to Alvah Scarret, is purposeless. She rejects everything in a simple attempt to be free, but her success does not matter. When Dominique meets Roark, she feels less free because suddenly her philosophy has a purpose, a reason to exist, namely Howard Roark.
Of course, Dominique's behavior surrounding this meeting demonstrates that she was never free to begin with--she had only deluded herself into believing that she was free. When Dominique took pleasure in the idea of feeling sexual desire for a quarry worker, that pleasure came both from her sexual desire and from her belief that she was acting against the mores of her society. Thus, Dominique was controlled by society just as she is now controlled by Roark. When Dominique does not go to see him at the quarry, she is still performing an action dictated by his existence. Dominique's and Roark's sexual relationship, and their first experience in particular, is one of the most complicated symbols of the book. Rand took a great risk in choosing to give rape a positive symbolic value. It is possible for the reader to accept it because it is only a rape in relation to the violence it employed. Rand makes clear that the ultimate consent of both parties was at the heart of the act. That the violence was consented to was understood by both Roark and Dominique. Dominique's warped simplicity in degrading herself in order to prove her freedom perhaps cannot be defended, but Roark's consent is worth further study.
After meeting Howard Roark, Dominique's vision is clearer and her philosophy more articulate. She may be less free, but her actions are purer, and she understands them better. Now Dominique can see Peter Keating and Ellsworth Toohey for what they are. Before she met Roark, she had believed that she could love Peter Keating because she would get pleasure out of embracing the epitome of the characteristics she rejects. Now Dominique understands the difference between the meager pleasure of rejecting that which she wants or embracing that which she detests, on the one hand, and the real pleasure of fighting to maintain her identity self in the presence of true greatness, on the other hand. Dominique underscores her worthiness to be Roark's match when she recognizes the brilliance of Enright House without knowing who designed it. Once again, Rand emphasizes that Roark the architect is a natural extension of Roark the man. Somehow he has built up Dominique through their encounters.
As Dominique's character becomes refined, Keating's slowly deteriorates. At the beginning of the novel, Peter Keating seemed genuinely human. Despite his weaknesses, his love for Catherine Halsey and his own sense of himself as a student, friend, and son supported the idea that he was a free self. Now, all of the things that helped Keating understand himself are being stripped away. As Keating gains in worldly success, he loses the confidence of believing that he could sustain himself, the person who goes along with this new position. When Keating first meets Toohey, he is disturbed because Toohey seems to recognize his falseness while also sanctioning it. Keating is relieved to meet Toohey because he needs someone to form him, someone to help him be the kind of person who he is supposed to be.
When Roark returns to New York City and resumes architecture, Keating becomes even more vulnerable to Toohey's manipulation. Just as Dominique's vision becomes clearer around Roark, Keating's vision deteriorates. In an interesting twist on an old metaphor, Keating is like the ivy that must cling to something stronger and more independent than himself. Now he has Toohey to rely on, but Keating will always be drawn to the strongest person he knows, Howard Roark.
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