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Literature Study GuidesThe FountainheadPart 1 Chapters 13 15 Summary

The Fountainhead | Study Guide

Ayn Rand

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The Fountainhead | Part 1, Chapters 13–15 : Peter Keating | Summary



Part 1, Chapter 13

The Heller house is nearly complete, but Roark has gained no new commissions except one for a gas station. Heller tries to reason with Roark to encourage him at attracting more work. But Roark seems entirely incapable of making even the slightest gesture toward concessions on the terms of the client. Heller sends people who have admired his house to Roark. However, interview after interview goes by with Roark recommending that the person find someone else. He will not please this one with an English Tudor style or that one with Greek columns. Roark attempts to reason with one man. He suggests that the man didn't want to have an imitation of a plantation mansion, but a house of his own life. The discussion ends in futile disappointment because the man simply does not understand Roark.

"The beauty of the human body is that it hasn't a single muscle that doesn't serve its purpose," Roark tells one client. It is an attempt to draw an analogy with the "body" of a building. One plan Roark works on goes to committee, but because the committee prevails he does not get the job. The winter months drag on until the owner of a department store hires Roark to design a new one for him. One of Cameron's former clients also hires Roark to design a house for his family, which only he and his son like. The opposition to it includes his wife, friends, and family. It also includes the contractors who refuse to build it. Although it does get built, only the son will live alone in it. The Architect's Guild of America carries a small statement saying "It stands now abandoned, as an eloquent witness to professional incompetence."

Part 1, Chapter 14

Everyone at Francon & Heyer wonders why Heyer absolutely will not retire. But it is much more on everyone's mind that a worldwide competition has been announced to design the New York Cosmo-Slotnick Building. It will be a skyscraper for offices and a movie theater. Keating shows Roark the drawings he's labored to complete for the competition, asking "Well? Is it all right?" Roark answers, "No. It's rotten. And you know it." For several hours Roark works over the design and sends Keating home with his alterations. Keating copies everything Roark has done and his drawing is submitted as the Francon & Heyer entry to the competition.

Roark spends the winter into spring alone in his office with no work coming in. He wages "a war in which he was invited to fight nothing ... and no adversary." He reads in the papers that Roger Enright is looking for an architect who will design an apartment building to look like no other. Enright has already rejected several attempts. But he fails to meet Enright directly and is dismissed by a secretary. Roark is notified that Cameron has suffered a relapse and is not expected to live much longer. He goes to stay with him in his last three days, and Cameron offers dire advice, warning him "It's Gail Wynand that you'll have to fight."

Keating sees Catherine now and again. But he finds himself increasingly fascinated by Dominique's passive acceptance of his every move with her. He is unable to fathom how she really feels about him or what he can do that will please her. He finds himself telling her that he loves her and wants to marry her. But she tells him "I really wanted to fall in love with you. I thought it would be convenient." Her response to his proposal is "if I ever want to punish myself for something terrible ... I'll marry you." She lets Keating know she will be gone for the summer to stay at her father's property.

Part 1, Chapter 15

Keating is terrified he has lost the competition. He thinks he can get the partnership he wants with Francon if he drives Heyer out before the results of the competition are announced. Having done a bit of research into Heyer's past, Keating finds conclusive evidence that Heyer pocketed money given to him by a contractor. Keating shows Heyer this evidence of graft and threatens to go public with it unless Heyer steps down. A heated argument ensues with Heyer falling over. When Keating reaches him, Heyer is dead. A few days later, Keating learns that Heyer has made him heir to a considerable fortune, interest in the company, and the collection of porcelain. As if that were not enough, he finds that he has won the Cosmo-Slotnick competition. Seemingly overnight, Keating finds himself the toast of the country. In all Keating rides on top of the world with only one small worry. The narrator reflects, "He never tired of hearing what was said about him; he did not like to hear too much about his building."

Roark continues to submit his drawings in an effort to get any badly needed work he can. The instant the client or the committee deciding comes up with the need to make any alterations, Roark turns them down. He never gets angry. He attempts to patiently explain "why the good, the high and the noble on earth was only that which kept its integrity." Finally out of money, Roark closes his office before going to see Mike about getting a labor job. Mike tells him he has a friend who is a foreman at the granite quarry owned by Francon in Connecticut who might hire him on. Roark gets the job and leaves New York.


Keating is more than willing to hear any and all praise for himself as an architect. It supports his hollow (and as it will turn out, temporary) sense of himself. He alone knows he has put his name to what is essentially Roark's work. Any praise of the design Roark has given him for the Cosmo-Slotnick Building increases Keating's self-doubt. He knows he could not have designed it by himself. But had Roark entered the competition with a design under his own name, Roark would not have been awarded it either. Roark has a completely different idea about the integrity of design for a building. His design is much different than the pastiche of past styles the public believes in almost at the level of a religion as dictated by those architects bound by tradition. Clients come to him asking for a reiteration of everything that has been done in the past instead of a building that expresses their vital present. They are as incapable of understanding what Roark tells them. And he is incapable of understanding how it is they depend so slavishly on what prestigious and successful architects tell them.

It will be a test of Roark's integrity that he is willing to take a laborer's job in Francon's granite quarry. He is trying to hold out until he can find clients willing to work with him on his own uncompromising terms. It is proven to him that whenever there's a committee or board involved, too many people want to stick their fingers into the pie. Then it becomes a mess to which Roark will not put his name. At least at the quarry, Roark is responsible only for his own day's work in the same way as any other laborer there.

Cameron's warning to Roark about Wynand is prophetic. It is the Wynand newspaper and what Toohey writes in it more than Wynand himself that will prove to be Roark's most severe test.

The higher the stakes, the more desperately Keating feels he needs Roark's support. Instead of encouraging Keating to be his own man, each success leaves Keating on shakier and shakier ground and his insecurity increases. These include such high points as Heyer leaving him his inheritance, being made partner with Francon, or winning the Cosmo-Slotnick competition. Despite a public show of appreciation and the admiration of others praising him for it, Keating knows he has done nothing substantial to deserve it.

It is Keating's intensely growing insecurity that drives him to precipitously blackmail Heyer and force his retirement. He hadn't planned on the confrontation to result in Heyer's death, but he knows he caused it. Adding to his building burden of guilt is the fact that Heyer had made over to Keating his estate, including a priceless collection of porcelain. Tea cups and pots are both fragile and hollow. They are very much like Keating's sense of himself, which needs constant support and protection to keep from being shattered.

Dominique is entirely honest with Keating. Being less than honest himself, he misreads her to believe that deep down she might really care for him. He thinks she may simply want to make it a challenge for him to win her over. Mistaking her cues as posturing the way any other society woman would, Keating makes for himself his own trap. By doing so, he denies his genuine love for Catherine and goes after the glamour of Dominique. His attitude toward these two women is reflected in his pursuit of success in the profession of architecture. Keating believes the appearance of success (mixed with a jealous admiration) in the eyes of others is what he wants. He wants it every bit as much as the appearance of a socialite wife at his side. He is unable to understand that it is Catherine's "shabby" looking but genuine love that sustains him rather than Dominique's hollow sophistication. In other words, Keating believes only the reflection of himself in the eyes and opinions of others.

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