Literature Study GuidesThe FountainheadPart 1 Chapters 11 12 Summary

The Fountainhead | Study Guide

Ayn Rand

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The Fountainhead | Part 1, Chapters 11–12 : Peter Keating | Summary

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Summary

Part 1, Chapter 11

Snyte regrets his hasty decision and attempts to hire Roark back, but Roark now has exactly what he needs to go forward and refuses. Keating visits Roark, having heard he's opened his own office. He is amazed at Roark's complete indifference to the opinions of others, professional organizations, or relying on anyone beyond himself. Keating warns him, "You'll make enemies of them if you refuse such an invitation." Roark responds, "I'll make enemies of them anyway." Roark visits Cameron and tells him he's opened his own office to work alone. Cameron cheerfully tells him "You're on your way into hell, Howard." Roark visits the construction site and is surprised and delighted to see Mike has signed on to the construction crew. Roark arrives often and meets Heller there. They talk about a house having integrity just like a person "and just as seldom" as Roark explains to him. Astonished, Heller tells Roark "I feel as if I'll have to live up to that house," and Roark responds by saying "I intended that."

Once the modernistic Heller house is built, it is thoroughly condemned and ridiculed by everyone in the profession, including Francon. He states "The owner will get good and sick of it and he'll come running home to a good old early Colonial." The only expert remaining silent on the Heller house is Toohey.

Part 1, Chapter 12

Alvah Scarret is Wynand's editor-in-chief for the newspapers. He sets up a controversy investigating the city slums as a campaign with "human appeal and social implications." The targeted slum lords had been holding out against "an obscure real-estate company" no one could prove had connections with anything owned by Gail Wynand. As part of the process of the expose, Scarret sends Dominique to live for two weeks in an East-side tenement. There she "scrubbed the floor of her room, she peeled potatoes, she bathed in a tin pan of cold water." When she returns to her apartment, she writes "a merciless, brilliant account" of conditions in the tenement and, as an expert, addresses meetings of social workers. Scarret is delighted with her success and offers to set her up as the head of a Women's Welfare Department, but she tells him she doesn't want to do that. He doesn't understand this, but she says to him "I take the only desire one can really permit oneself ... Freedom."

Francon finds himself looking to Keating whenever Dominique does anything, and Keating pursues Dominique despite feeling that it is a mistake to do so. Both of them are baffled by the ease with which she acquiesces to Keating's companionship and always accepts his invitations. One evening, Catherine shows up in a bedraggled state at Keating's apartment. She implores Keating that they be married at once, and he agrees to meet her tomorrow to get the license. Catherine leaves, and Mrs. Keating manages to make a show of support for the marriage by inserting unflattering comments about Catherine. When Keating evades these jabs, Mrs. Keating presents him with a comparison between Catherine and Dominique. She suggests that Francon would be disappointed in him for not marrying his daughter. She says such a move would toss Keating aside as a potential partner to his firm. Keating holds out until he meets Catherine to obtain the license before telling her that really there is no hurry. Catherine never goes against anything Keating says and agrees to wait.

Analysis

Dominique's two-week stint in the tenements is a telling example of her independence and self-sufficiency under any conditions. It is an indication of her ability to adapt to whatever is necessary in a manner similar to Roark. Dominique is described as "fragile," but there is nothing fragile in her commitment to the task of living like a poor tenant. That is so she can write about the experience with honest force in her article. This is surprising given her upbringing in luxurious surroundings. Her determination to remain free allows her to remain beyond the control of comforts as would be impossible to someone like Kiki Holcombe. Dominique's autonomy is her merciless honesty, which she applies with good effect to her article about conditions in the slums.

The comparison between Catherine and Dominique deepen in Keating's mind. Dominique's mysterious and passive elegance is in increasingly stark contrast to Catherine's loving but inept presentation of herself in social situations. The idea that Dominique's one desire is freedom proves irresistible to Keating. Dominique seems to hint that maybe he's just the man to change her mind. There are two peripheral observers of this development. Francon has no idea how to bring Dominique to her senses. Mrs. Keating subverts her son's resolve to marry Catherine. She points out how much Catherine does not fit the image of glamor that Keating needs in a wife in order to keep himself at the top of the profession.

Mrs. Keating skillfully applies pressure on her son. She tells Keating that if he doesn't marry Dominique, Francon will bring in someone else as his partner when Heyer retires. This is exactly the string that jerks Keating into line. It is likely the motivation behind his postponement of his marriage to Catherine in case he might have a chance with the much more presentable Dominique. Keating stubbornly won't give Catherine up. At the same time, he also dithers in definitively proclaiming his love for her by taking the decisive action of marrying her. The point is that Keating wants it both ways in his private life as he does in his professional one. In so doing, he ends up with neither wife nor career.

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