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Literature Study GuidesThe FountainheadPart 2 Chapters 7 8 Summary

The Fountainhead | Study Guide

Ayn Rand

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The Fountainhead | Part 2, Chapters 7–8 : Ellsworth M. Toohey | Summary



Part 2, Chapter 7

One week after the party, Dominique writes a scathing condemnation of the Enright house in her column for the Banner. However, the way in which she has written it attracts Toohey's attention. He confronts her with what can be read between the lines of her writing. When she asks him if he will write his own opinion of the Enright house, he distracts her. He suggests she have a look at the Cosmo-Slotnick Building. Toohey then launches into the details of what he knows about Roark from Keating, comparing the two men and their attitudes toward architecture. Toohey ends his long speech to Dominique with how he sees Roark will end up. He says Roark will be "beaten—not by a greater genius, not by a god, but by a Peter Keating." This drives Dominique to a fury and she screams at Toohey to leave. "Of course, personally, I think Peter Keating is the greatest architect we've got," Toohey shoots back at her. From then on, any time one of Dominique's acquaintances asks about using Roark as their architect, she directs them to go to Keating instead. Every time she does this, she shows up at Roark's apartment to sleep with him, telling him exactly what it is she is doing. When Roark tells her that she's lovely, she responds "I still want to destroy you." He answers, "Do you think I would want you if you didn't?"

Part 2, Chapter 8

Toohey continues to hover around Dominique, searching for a crack in her façade that would betray the feelings he suspects she has for Roark. Toohey's also looking for a way that would open a conduit by which he might use Dominique to ingratiate himself with Roark. Toohey shows up at her apartment unannounced and makes a few comments on the décor of her place. He brings up the fact that Dominique has been very busy entertaining and making many social "visits, dinners, speakeasies and giving tea-parties." He knows she does this even though he realizes it is torture for her to do it. When she questions him about concerning himself with the details of her activities, Toohey makes it clear it is important to him to be well-informed. He needs to know not only about his enemies but also on those on his own side.

Roark and Dominique carry on a very secret affair. At the same time, she continues to steer everyone away from hiring Roark and toward hiring Keating. She tells Roark, "everything I've done all my life is because it's the kind of a world that made you work in a quarry." Keating makes many attempts to thank Dominique for her support. He interprets it as being because of her admiration for him and his work. But she avoids meeting him and doesn't want him to thank her. Toohey's Council of American Builders continues to meet. Although nothing is done or decided at these gatherings, Keating and the other architects find comfort in attending them. Keating has internalized Toohey's voice saying "If you learn to love ... the humblest, the least, the meanest ... then we'll find ... the great peace of brotherhood."


The relationship between Roark and Dominique establishes itself into a pattern whereby they test both themselves and each other. The understanding between them is entirely opposite to what it appears to be to everyone else. But Dominique must be especially wary of Toohey's powers of observing even the tiniest details that escape everyone else.

Toohey asks Dominique what she would think of Roark being bested not by someone superior but by someone much less like Keating. Toohey hits too close to her feelings and she nearly gives herself away. Dominique tries to make up for her slip by redoubling her efforts to influence every prospective client away from Roark and toward Keating. For his part, Keating persuades himself to consider that maybe Dominique is attracted to him but unwilling to admit the fact. But every attempt he makes to thank her for her help is met with Dominique's refusal to be indebted to him in the slightest. She won't accept or acknowledge his thanks.

Toohey's soothing words suggest that the only way to find peace is in a kind of leveling of all people to the same stature. In order to do that, everyone must figuratively lie down on the ground to be sure that no one is any higher than anyone else. They must do this to attain only the "lowest common denominator." Since Rand asserted that the mental and physical statures of a man are related, this suggests a horizontal orientation on a par with sleep or death. This is a stasis of universal peace in which all conflict between people is resolved and therefore meaningless. But this image of a human being at peace is directly opposed to both the vertical reach of a skyscraper into the sky. It is also against the muscular balance required for a person to stand upright on the earth.

Rand had an unconventional view of sex and what it means. Rather than become a selfless gesture toward the other, Rand states that the opposite is true. She wrote, "Sex is the most profoundly selfish of all acts." She continues that men "will always be attracted to the woman who reflects his deepest vision of himself." This is true both of Keating and Roark regarding Dominique. Keating is busy gazing at the elegant façade of Dominique's physical appearance and responding to an awareness that other men are attracted to her like flies. Roark could care less about what she looks like. Instead, Roark recognizes her intelligence and struggle to recognize her own autonomy is an exact image of his own.

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