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Literature Study GuidesThe FountainheadPart 1 Chapters 5 6 Summary

The Fountainhead | Study Guide

Ayn Rand

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The Fountainhead | Part 1, Chapters 5–6 : Peter Keating | Summary



Part 1, Chapter 5

After a year of employment at Francon & Heyer, Keating is still a draftsman. But he clearly feels destined to rise through the ranks of the firm, a process for which he plans with slow, methodical attention. He does research on porcelains so that he can talk with Heyer about his porcelain collection. The old man does not forget who Keating is. Keating makes himself indispensable in the drafting room by doing work for others and creating a condition of dependence. It's not very long before Francon discovers the highest-paid draftsman on his payroll is doing the least amount of work and fires him. Keating finds the young man another position, and one potential competitor is out of Keating's way.

The chief designer at Francon & Heyer is Claude Stengel. All attempts Keating has made to ingratiate himself with Stengel over the two years he's been there have failed. However, Keating does discover that Stengel has plans to set up his own firm. He finds a way to help that along by guiding a minor client to hire Stengel to design her house directly, and he leaves Francon. With Stengel out of the way, Keating becomes the chief designer. Now Keating has his own office and is faced with having to design a building entirely on his own. However, Keating loses his self-confidence and runs with his drawings to get Roark's help. Roark has a look, makes a few adjustments, and Keating gains Francon's approval.

The past two and a half years have been hard on Cameron and Roark, as potential commission after commission goes to other architects. Cameron disappears for weeks at a time. Then he returns to the unheated office unabashedly drunk as if it is the only place left on Earth in which he can exist. Keating tries to give Roark some money that he desperately needs, and to get him a position at Francon & Meyer. However, Roark rejects these offers.

Part 1, Chapter 6

Toohey has published his book on architecture, Sermons in Stone. It is hailed as the premier authority on architectural style in the city. In it, he presents the history of architecture. He says it is "truly the greatest of the arts because it was anonymous ... no one man had ever created anything of importance in architecture."

Cameron collapses in his office and retires. He leaves the firm in Roark's care to shut down, directing him to burn every bit of paper in it except one rendering of an unbuilt skyscraper that Roark keeps. Three years into his time with Francon & Heyer, Keating is making progress in his upward climb on the ladder to success. He pays a visit to Catherine and together they make plans to be married in a few years.


Keating has engineered the firing of one potential competitor at Francon & Heyer. But his first target for outright removal is the antisocial and uncommunicative Stengel. As chief designer for Francon and Heyer, Stengel puts the finishing touches on everyone else's designs before Francon approves them. The assembly line approach means that no one person is responsible even though Francon ultimately gets the credit. It is Stengel's title that Keating is after. He makes use of Stengel's wish to set up his own business in order to definitively sever Stengel's ties with Francon. Keating does this by simply telling the client the truth. This is that everything done at Francon & Heyer is underlined by Stengel anyway, so why not hire him directly? Keating is very willing to schmooze his way around Francon. He is readily at hand to sympathize with Francon over Stengel's "betrayal" in stealing away a client. This makes Francon even more grateful for Keating's loyalty, placing Keating in the prime position to take Stengel's place as chief designer.

Keating also manages to make an impression on the elderly Heyer. In all, Keating is very busy dealing with people at the firm through their personalities and interests. These seem to have very little to do with the profession of architecture. But it has a lot to do with appearances, reputations, and hobbies like collecting porcelain. Even at that, however, Keating lacks the self-confidence that should go with his new position and runs to Roark for approval. This same lack of decision and definite action based upon it applies to his marriage to Catherine. The marriage somehow keeps getting put off until it simply doesn't happen.

Although Roark easily helps Keating out when asked to do so, he correspondingly refuses any help from Keating despite desperate need. He knows that any and all help he takes from the outside comes with strings attached. The fact that Keating has come to Roark to ask for help is evidence of this. Roark will later reproach himself with having contributed to Keating's downfall by helping him with his drawings. For the time being, however, both Keating and Toohey seem to be making all the right moves and saying all the right things. Keating uses the interchangeability of one designer for another to place himself in a position to advance his reputation and career. Toohey describes the history of architecture with a similar approach. He levels the field of architectural accomplishments as great only because it is anonymous and therefore the property of everyone and no one.

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