The Fountainhead Summary and Analysis
by Ayn Rand
Part II, Chapters 11-15
In December the Cosmo-Slotnick building opens. Toohey takes Keating out to dinner. Keating knows he should be the happiest he has ever been, but somehow he is not. Toohey seems to want Keating to marry Dominique even though he does not love her. Toohey reminds him that sexual love is selfish and pointless and that happiness really comes from giving such things up. As Toohey continues along this line, Keating suddenly feels better for listening to Toohey speak of man's universal equality.
One night Dominique comes to Roark's new office for the first time. He is building a model of the Aquitania. She watches the Aquitania start to rise into the sky.
Roark then begins working on the Stoddard Temple. He asks Stephen Mallory to make a statue for the Stoddard Temple, adding that he wants him only because he saw his work and liked it. This last part is the hardest for Mallory to believe. Several times during their conversation he becomes angry and yells at Roark for trying to fool him like this. Each time Roark calms him down.
Mallory looks at sketches of the temple and asks Roark how it is possible to build such a thing in such a city as theirs. He tells Roark that he cannot sleep at night because all he can think of is the people who can see the best and still do not want it. Roark calmly tells him to forget about that, but Mallory cannot let it go. Roark explains what he wants for a sculpture--a single figure--and where he wants it to go. He tells Mallory that he has total freedom, but he does want to suggest a model: Dominique Francon. Mallory says that she is perfect but would not pose, and Roark replies simply that she will.
When Guy Francon hears about the sculpture, he tries to stop Dominique, but she simply tells him, "Order yourself a reproduction of the sculpture, father. It's going to be beautiful." Keating tells her he does not like the idea, and even Toohey tries to talk her out of it. She tells him not to bother. She also informs him that she told Roark that Toohey encouraged Stoddard to give him the commission.
All winter Roark slaves away while three of his buildings rise in Manhattan. Austen Heller is very happy. Roark stands before the foundation of the Temple, imagining how it will be when it is finished:
a small building of gray limestone ... it did not cling to the soil and it did not crouch under the sky ... It was scaled to human height in such a manner that it did not dwarf man, but stood as a setting that made his figure the only absolute, the gauge of perfection by which all dimensions were to be judged.
Roark walks to the shack put up for Mallory's work. Mallory is frustrated because the work has not been going well, but a moment later Dominique throws off her robe and stands, asking Mallory if this is what he meant. He cries for her to "Hold it!" and begins to work as Roark stands and watches.
The walls of the temple rise throughout April. Often, after the work is done for the day, Mike, Dominique, Roark, and Mallory gather in Mallory's studio. They stay late into the night drinking coffee and enjoying each other's company. In May the board of directors behind the Aquitania goes bankrupt, and construction is halted. Kent Lansing promises Roark that it will be finished, but he admits it may take a while. Toohey refers to it as the Unfinished Symphony in Dominique's presence, and she uses the idea in a column. The nickname sticks. For a few weeks Roark finds himself stopping outside of the building, imagining it complete, walking through its structure; then he forces himself to stop. Finally, the temple is complete and will be opened in a week, when Stoddard returns to New York.
The Stoddard temple was expected to open on November 1 (All Saints' Day). Hopton Stoddard returns from his trip around the world, and in the morning Stoddard announces that there will be no opening. The next day Toohey writes a column claiming that the Stoddard temple is the most horrible, degrading, unsuitable building ever called a temple in the history of man. He goes through all of its points, explaining how the building cannot be called a temple by any possible definition of the word. The next day Stoddard sues Roark for breach of contract for a sum sufficient to rebuild the temple.
Toohey had persuaded Stoddard about all these things by meeting his boat at the pier, taking him to see the temple, and telling him all the things he said in his column. He thought for a few minutes and told Stoddard that clearly this was a sign that God had rejected his offering and that Stoddard was too impure to build a temple--this site was clearly intended to have been something else, such as a home for sub-normal children. Devastated, Stoddard agreed with everything Toohey told him. Everyone but Toohey is surprised by the outcry that arises against Howard Roark. Roark does nothing in response. When asked for a statement he replies simply that he asks only that people go to see the building before condemning it. His words are twisted beyond all meaning.
Austen Heller tries to get Roark to hire a lawyer and prepare a defense, but Roark refuses. Roark is worried about Mallory, but Mallory tells him that he is not surprised, for he never thought they would let Roark survive. He also reminds Roark of the Beast he once spoke of, the Beast that forces men to admire mediocrity above all things and to be afraid of greatness. He tells Roark that he shot at Ellsworth Toohey because he believes Toohey knows all about that Beast. Dominique visits Roark's room, and he tells her as soon as he sees her that it does not feel as bad as she thinks it does. He does not really care that it will be destroyed--all that matters is that he built it. She disagrees, telling him that this is what she was saving him from when she took away his commissions; he should never try to build such perfect things in this kind of world.
Dominique goes to see Toohey in his office. She asks him why he has gone to so much trouble, and he explains that he has ruined Roark forever. The issue itself will be quickly forgotten, but people will remember Roark as that unreliable builder, the one who had to be sued, the one who was in all the newspapers. He pauses a moment, and then he begins to answer her deeper question: Why Howard Roark? He explains that to do this to another man, a lesser man, would have been a waste of time. He also got something he wanted from Hopton Stoddard. The most important reason of all was simply to see whether or not he could do it. Finally, he asks her whether she will testify on behalf of Stoddard, and she agrees.
The courtroom at the trial is packed full of spectators. Almost the entire room is clearly in support of the plaintiff. Stoddard is not there. On Roark's side of the courtroom sit Austen Heller, Mike, and Stephen Mallory. Roark looks calm and collected. The plaintiff's opening statement reveals that the basis of the argument is that Roark's design could not be considered a temple by anyone, least of all a trained architect. Roark waives his opening statement. The plaintiff calls a series of eminent witnesses, starting with Ellsworth Toohey, who eloquently explains why the Stoddard Temple is not a temple. When Peter Keating testifies, he is disorganized and confused. Several times he loses control of himself, and everyone finally realizes he is drunk.
Dominique Francon is the last witness. She has refused to be coached, but the plaintiff expects a lot from her. Dominique's testimony is similar to several of her columns about Roark. On the one hand she calls for the temple's demolition. On the other hand, this is what she says:
Howard Roark built a temple to the human spirit. He saw man as strong, proud, clean, wise and fearless. He saw man as a heroic being. And he built a temple to that ... But Ellsworth Toohey said that this temple was a monument to a profound hatred of humanity ... In what kind of world did Roark build his temple? For what kind of men? Look around you. Can you see a shrine becoming sacred by serving as a setting for Mr. Hopton Stoddard? ... Ellsworth Toohey is right, that temple is a sacrilege, though not in the sense he meant ... If [the Stoddard Temple] were allowed to exist, nobody would dare to look himself in the mirror ... let us say that we are moles and we object to mountain peaks. I realize fully that at this moment I am as futile as Howard Roark. This is my Stoddard Temple--my first and my last.
Confused and worried, the plaintiff rests, and it is Howard Roark's turn. He brings an envelope to the judge and takes out ten photographs of the Stoddard Temple. These are his case.
Howard Roark loses the suit. The next day Dominique goes to the paper and turns in her column, which is almost word-for-word her testimony in the trial. Alvah Scarret tells her they cannot print it, but she says that if they do not, she will. Scarret cables Gail Wynand, who is away on a cruise, and he cables back, in his secret code, "Fire the bitch." The office boy who decodes the message, having been hired on the recommendation of Ellsworth Toohey, delivers a copy to Toohey in his office. He goes to Dominique's office and confronts her for her behavior. She tells him she will continue to fight him, and he hands her the telegram. When he leaves, Dominique packs up her things, goes to Scarret's office, and hands him the cable. He apologizes, but she assures him she likes it better this way. She assures him that her punishment of herself will be much worse.
Three days after the trial, Ellsworth Toohey sits at home listening to the radio. Catherine knocks on the door and enters. She looks terrible. She is now a social worker with a small but real career. Toohey has almost forgotten her existence, but she constantly seeks his advice in the smallest matters, always asking between meals or at odd times, as if afraid to take up his time. Now, she confesses that she thinks she is becoming a terrible person. She used to enjoy her work a great deal because she loved helping people. Now, she seems to hate all the people who need her help, and she hates them more if they do not seem grateful enough. Also, she has noticed that other people seem to be like her as well—indeed, all the women in her profession like her. Toohey listens and then tells her that her problem is that she is an egotist. She needs to get out of her own "narrow soul" and stop thinking about being happy at all. Katie continues to question him, and for the first time Toohey has difficulty answering someone's questions. He falls back on saying, "We can't be too literal when we deal in abstractions," we can't "discuss these things when our entire language is the language of individualism." Catherine looks brokenhearted, and she says he must be right; she always feels so "small" after talking to him.
The next evening Peter Keating knocks on Toohey's door. Toohey was expecting him to show up at some point, but Keating contradicts him and says he has come to see Catherine. He goes to Catherine's room. She jumps up surprised, for she has not seen him in six months and they have not spoken of marriage for three years. Keating looks awful, and he admits that he has again been drinking. He tells Catherine that he has done something terrible, and he needs her to forgive him without knowing what it is. She does so immediately. He tells her they are going to get married right away, so she should pack her things and be ready to leave at nine tomorrow morning. Breathless, she agrees. Keating leaves, and Toohey notices him walk by. He goes to Catherine's room and sees her crying on the bed. He asks her what is wrong, and she replies: "I'm not afraid of you, Uncle Ellsworth!"
Keating is at home packing his suitcase. Dominique comes to see him. He tries to say the right thing but gives up. She asks him to marry her, telling him only to say yes or no, and if he says yes they will drive immediately to Connecticut. He is shocked and baffled, and he tries to stall. He asks her why, but she does not answer. He suggests that if they were to marry, they should have receptions and announcements first, but she says that she cannot stand that--he can do all that afterwards. Only once does she allude to their earlier conversation about marriage, when she told him she would marry him only to punish herself--but Keating acts as if he has not heard her. After a few moments Peter says yes. As they walk outside and get in the car, "there [is] suddenly no antagonism between them, but a quiet, hopeless, feeling of comradeship, as if they were victims of the same impersonal disaster."
As they drive, Keating learns that Dominique has been fired. They are married in the judge's living room. On the way back, Keating asks her where they will live, and she tells him she will move into his apartment and that he can announce things as he wishes. Keating looks at Dominique's profile and is once again struck by how beautiful she is and how much he wants her. Only now does he realize that Dominique is going to sleep with him. When they arrive at his apartment, he gets out, expecting her to follow. Instead, she tells him she will see him tomorrow--she has things to settle tonight.
She drives immediately to Roark's room. He smiles when he sees her, but his face is full of "waiting and pain." They have not seen each other since the trial. Roark has been to her house, but Dominique's maid did not let him in. She tells him not to say anything, and they make love all night, barely aware of the passage of time. In the morning, Dominique watches him move about the room. She tells him she loves him for the first time. Then she tells him that last night she was married to Peter Keating. He struggles for a moment, then tells her to go on. She tells him that she has always been afraid of meeting someone like Roark because she knew how it would end. She cannot stand to be with him except in a world where he at least has a fighting chance, and this is not such a world. To be with him in this world would mean to do for him what she does for Peter Keating: to beg, flatter, and manipulate people who are not worthy of being in the same room with Roark. She loves Roark too much for this. She tells him the only "gesture of protest open to [her]" is to destroy herself before the world destroys him, so that she does not have to see it. Marrying Peter Keating, bringing upon herself the worst suffering she can think of, is the only thing she has to offer him.
Roark asks Dominique what she would do if he commanded her to annul her marriage and marry him. She tells him she would obey. He replies that he will not try to stop her because he loves her. He explains that he can only love her if she is whole, and if she gave herself to him, in this world, she would become an "empty hulk." He could not love her like that, and she could not love him. He will survive, though he does not know how. He tells her she needs to learn not to be hurt, but he believes she will learn, and when she does, she will come back to him. He kisses her, and she leaves.
That morning, Keating waits to see if Dominique will come. He has locked himself in his room and will not open the door. He finally told his mother, and she told others, but Keating does not know what else to say to anyone. Dominique comes, and Mrs. Keating is surprised to learn that there will not be a honeymoon. When she learns that Dominique plans to move in, she offers to move out, but Dominique graciously declines. Mrs. Keating realizes she is going to hate Dominique. The chief designer from the firm calls, and Keating goes over to the office to speak to Guy.
Guy Francon congratulates him. Guy is especially happy because when he retires in a few years and hands the firm over to Keating, it will seem right. Guy comes to dinner that night, but he is nervous around his daughter. The whole night, guests drop in, and it is very late before Keating and Dominique are alone. Dominique tells Keating it is time; they go into the bedroom. Afterwards, Keating lies there, "his desire satisfied and left hungrier than ever by her unmoving body that had not responded, not even in revulsion." He asked her whom she had slept with, and she answered, "Howard Roark," but he thought she was joking.
The next morning Dominique finds white lilacs on the breakfast table, the gift of Ellsworth Toohey. Keating is pleased, and Dominique invites him to dinner. He comes a few days later, and Keating speaks about how happy he is, with the three of them together. Toohey philosophizes about groups of three, the mystical connotations, the religious significance, and so forth. Toohey commends Dominique on her "return to the fold." He reveals to Dominique that he knows how this came about and then avers that she fell in love with Howard Roark but he apparently did not notice she existed, which is why she turned against him and fell for Keating. She laughs and ironically tells him she overestimated him. As Keating returns, Toohey brings up the project to rebuild the Stoddard Temple.
The temple is rebuilt by a group of architects and transformed into the Hopton Stoddard Home for Sub-normal Children. The four architects--Keating, John Erik Snyte, Gordon L. Prescott, and an unknown named Gus Webb--are all members of the Council of American Builders, which has recently grown in popularity. They design by committee, and the result is a mix of styles and themes; the building "was like a corpse hacked to pieces and reassembled." It takes longer to find the tenants, who are chosen because they are the least likely to ever get better. When children from the slums try to look into the beautiful and well-equipped playground, they are chased away.
Once a month Toohey leads tours through the home for rich benefactors. They readily open their pocketbooks for to his other causes. Catherine Halsey gets a job to be in charge of the children's occupational therapy, and she moves into the home. She is zealously devoted to her work and takes extreme pride in the children's meager achievements. Toohey secretly buys the statue of Dominique.
Roark's office is one room again, and his client base has essentially dried up. The case has had exactly the effect Toohey predicted. He continues to pay Stephen Mallory's rent and to take him to frequent meals, telling Mallory to shut up and work. Austen Heller tries to help Roark, but Roark explains that Mallory can work without clients while he cannot.
One day Roark finally goes to see the rebuilt temple. As Roark stands there, Toohey walks out. Toohey tells him that he had hoped to be here when Roark finally showed up. Toohey tells him that he understands Roark's work and that they now have a greater bond than if Toohey were a supporter of it. He asks Roark to look at the building and tell him what he sees in it, but Roark does not see the point. Toohey asks him to say what he thinks of him while they are alone. Roark merely replies, "But I don't think of you." Toohey walks away.
Just as architecture is used symbolically and thematically throughout the novel, particular buildings play important roles. The Stoddard Temple is one of the most interesting symbols because it actually represents one thing but then has another meaning forced upon it. Rand provides one of her most detailed descriptions of any building throughout the novel:
The Temple was to be a small building of gray limestone. Its lines were horizontal, not the lines reaching to heaven, but the lines of the earth. It seemed to spread over the ground like arms outstretched at shoulder-height, palms down, in great, silent acceptance. It did not cling to the soil and it did not crouch under the sky. It seemed to lift the earth, and its few vertical shafts pulled the sky down. It was scaled to human height in such a manner that it did not dwarf man, but stood as a setting that made his figure the only absolute gauge of perfection by which all dimensions were to be judged. When a man entered this temple, he would feel space molded around him, for him, as if it had waited for his entrance, to be completed ... It was a place where one would come to feel sinless and strong, to find the peace of spirit never granted save by one's own glory.
This building represents Roark's belief in the perfection of the human being, perfect in its own right, not through someone else's eyes. It also represents Rand's belief that the heroes of a society can lift up everyone else through their achievements. This building makes an essentially capitalist argument that by allowing some people room to be better, more successful, richer and stronger, everyone becomes better, more successful, richer and stronger. The trouble, for elitists like Dominique, is that the worse people are still worse. Roark, however, appreciates beauty and seeks perfection without wasting effort despising the low.
In contrast to them both, the socialist view remains in Ellsworth Toohey's words. He testifies: "the two essentials of the conception of a temple are a sense of awe and a sense of man's humility. We have noted the gigantic proportions of religious edifices, the soaring lines, the horrible grotesques of monster-like gods, or, later, gargoyles. All of it tends to impress upon man his essential insignificance, to crush him by sheer magnitude, to imbue him with that sacred terror which leads to the meekness of virtue." Toohey impresses upon the crowd that the purpose of a temple is to crush all people down to the same small height, to show them they are all insignificant but at least all the same. In having the courts and the public swallow Toohey's argument, Rand is clearly arguing that socialism and similar theories are real threats to greatness among the public. In this world, the idea of equality is so attractive to most people that they fail to realize that it ultimately lessens them all. (One might compare Tocqueville's argument about the mediocrity that a democratic order inspires--see his Democracy in America.) One might also see a socialistic brand of Christianity in Toohey's preferred temple, while a purer form of Christianity does not case aside motivations for greatness and perfection even while admitting humility and equality before God.
Of course, Toohey could not allow the original Temple to remain, because if enough people would actually see it, the public might not be able to agree with Toohey so emphatically. The Stoddard Home for Sub-normal Children has its own symbolic meaning, one much closer to Toohey's vision of the ideal. It is designed by a committee of architects, three of whom have no real interest or passion for the result. Toohey selects the fourth because he has "the loudest voice and the greatest self-assurance," thereby assuring that the weakest member of the group will play the greatest role. The resulting edifice is a hodge-podge of styles: Peter Keating at his very worst.
The "inmates" consist of sixty-five children who are the most "hopeless cases." Rand is clearly contrasting these children with the "children from the slums nearby" who would "sneak into the park of the Stoddard Home and gaze wistfully at the playrooms, the gymnasium, the kitchen behind the big windows. These children had filthy clothes and smudged faces, agile little bodies, impertinent grins, and eyes bright with a roaring, imperious, demanding intelligence." In Toohey's world, the "hopeless cases" are far more deserving of help than those who might someday prove special or extraordinary. The Stoddard Home stands as a monument to inferiority and self-abasement. Stoddard's attempt to improve his moral standing will have no positive effect on anyone outside its improvements to his own conscience.
Another inhabitant of the Stoddard Home, Catherine Halsey, makes an important transition in this section. Halsey represented the fighting victim. She was as much under Ellsworth Toohey's sway as Peter Keating or Hopton Stoddard, but something in her rebelled against his philosophy and his advice. When she cries in her room, the night before she is supposed to be married to Peter Keating, and she says "I'm not afraid of you, Uncle Ellsworth!" Toohey knows that for the moment at least, she has thrown off his socialistic chains. Only through the coincidence of Dominique's actions does Toohey's world successfully crush her. It is clear that she is crushed when she enters the home and takes more pleasure out of the meanest achievement of the most pathetic child than she would out of a true masterpiece. Toohey has finally convinced her that the proper path is to embrace the meanest, lowest, basest parts of herself and of everyone around her. Even so, she takes pleasure in the achievements rather than the failures.
Ironically, Dominique attempts the same path, but through different means and for a different end. Dominique marries Peter because he is the most perfect example of the ideal of this imperfect world. She hopes that by literally embracing him, she can learn to live, as Roark does, by recognizing a kind of perfection in the incomplete. She claims to be punishing herself, but in every punishment she seems to be acting on a principle. Perhaps, though, the idea is that by putting herself in a position of suffering, she can see her moral choices all the more starkly in terms of individualism and suffering versus genuine capitulation to the values of others. In any case, Roark suggests that she will learn something after all and become able to return to him freely and as a better person than before.
The Fountainhead Essays and Related Content
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- Glossary of Terms
- Major Themes
- Summary and Analysis of Part I, Chapters 1-5
- Summary and Analysis of Part I, Chapters 6-10
- Summary and Analysis of Part I, Chapters 11-15
- Summary and Analysis of Part II, Chapters 1-5
- Summary and Analysis of Part II, Chapters 6-10
- Summary and Analysis of Part II, Chapters 11-15
- Summary and Analysis of Part III, Chapters 1-9
- Summary and Analysis of Part IV, Chapters 1-5
- Summary and Analysis of Part IV, Chapters 6-10
- Summary and Analysis of Part IV, Chapters 11-20
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