Literature Study GuidesThe FountainheadPart 1 Chapters 9 10 Summary

The Fountainhead | Study Guide

Ayn Rand

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The Fountainhead | Part 1, Chapters 9–10 : Peter Keating | Summary



Part 1, Chapter 9

It seems to amuse architect John Erik Snyte to hire Roark into his stable of draftsmen. That's simply because Roark's work is "modern, violent, crazy to knock their eye out," and he doesn't have anyone able or willing to design buildings in that style. Snyte is cheerful and takes pride in his willingness to take on any style the client may ask for. He "never became angry, except when someone called him eclectic." As "Mr. Modernistic," Roark is grateful for work but has no illusions that anything more than bits and pieces of his renderings will ever be built. Snyte pleases his clients by employing a designer in each popular style and staging a competition among them. Snyte then chooses the one he thinks the client will like best. He embellishes it himself with details from the others on the theory that "Six minds ... are better than one." The design is then rendered into a beautiful watercolor to present for the client's approval.

The unions of the building trades go on strike that winter, leaving Francon and other city architects suspended. Following the huge success of Toohey's book, Toohey is hired by Wynand to write a daily column for the Banner called "One Small Voice." This column proves to be extremely popular, and Toohey writes on all manner of subjects, weighing in on architecture and social issues with his opinions.

Toohey also makes a speech at a meeting of strike sympathizers. The crowd is mesmerized by Toohey's voice, which "unrolled as a velvet banner" urging the brotherhood of laborers to come together and organize. Later, it is rumored Wynand had given Toohey a rise in salary. Keating is startled by the appearance one morning of a young woman insisting to see Francon. He is stunned by her beauty until their eyes meet, and he is left "with a sense of cold cruelty." When Keating asks who she is, he is told that she is Francon's daughter Dominique. She writes a column for the Banner titled "Your House."

Part 1, Chapter 10

Ralston Holcombe and his wife, Constance "Kiki," throw a lavish party to celebrate the completion of one of his modern buildings. Keating attends the party expecting to be bored but then spots Dominique "with three young men beside her." He wrangles an introduction to her through Francon. He attempts various forms of socially acceptable openings to a conversation with her, only to be met at every turn of phrase by bored, harsh honesty. Keating appears able to spar with enough intelligence to keep Dominique's interest. That is until she helps him out by telling him, "That's what I'd expect you to say, and I don't like to hear what I expect." Francon notices Dominique and Keating have a conversation lasting longer than expected and tells Keating "Maybe you're the man to handle her."

Five months into Roark's employment with Snyte, Austen Heller has contacted Snyte. Snyte is Heller's third architect to design "a building that would mean something" without describing the style it should have. This is a perfect chance for Snyte to trot out his stable of draftsmen so they can compete for Heller's approval. He takes them on a trip to view the site on a rocky cliff where the Heller house is to be constructed. Roark works to design a building that follows the lines of the cliff, rather than cutting the rock to accommodate the building and submits it to Snyte. Roark's rendering is chosen, but it has been drastically altered by Snyte before being painted in watercolors for Heller to examine. When Heller sees the drawing, he declares, "It's so near somehow ... but it's not right ... if it were integrated." Roark can contain himself no longer. Before anyone can stop him, he leaps forward to seize the delicate painting and roughly draws out his original lines to Heller's approval. Furious, Snyte fires Roark on the spot. Heller hires Roark directly on, giving him enough of an advance to open his own architectural offices.


Socialization goes on in this circle of fashionable New York architects and their wealthy clients to sustain an appearance of success. The socialization is far more important to them than the actual work of designing buildings. After having attended several such gatherings, Keating finds himself bored with the emptiness of the Holcombe party until he meets and talks with Dominique. The cold cruelty Keating perceives in her is a prelude to her emotionless indifference to him throughout the time of their relationship. Keating uses other people as stepping stones in his climb upward. Similarly, Dominique uses other people as something like experiments in the development of her own being.

At first glance, Snyte appears to give each architect in his firm his own corner in which to work. However, his stable of designers each in a different style to suit any client is just another variation of Francon's assembly-line approach. In some ways, it is even worse. It offers clients a kind of buffet table from which the client can pick and choose the bits and pieces of architectural design he finds most appealing. Unfortunately, this approach does nothing to achieve a unity of design, a point that Heller instinctively perceives when he views the submitted watercolor. Roark hardly fares any better under those conditions, with the exception that he at last breaks free to deal directly with the client. This is his first significant opportunity. Roark is enabled to set up his own firm only because a single individual client trusts him to produce a unified and cohesive design. Roark directly shows Heller what he originally designed before the hands of others interfered. This quick move enables Roark to engage in direct, one-on-one dialogue with Heller. The two of them come to a clear understanding of exactly what is expected.

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