Literature Study GuidesThe FountainheadPart 2 Chapters 9 10 Summary

The Fountainhead | Study Guide

Ayn Rand

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The Fountainhead | Part 2, Chapters 9–10 : Ellsworth M. Toohey | Summary



Part 2, Chapter 9

Ellsworth M. Toohey was, growing up, a sickly and fragile boy who was not at all attractive. He learned early on how to pit one parent against another to get what he wanted. The one thing the boy had going for him was his rich sweet voice. Toohey is a good student in school. While his classmates perform the unexpected, "Ellsworth did the expected, better than anyone had ever seen it done ... Ellsworth was a sponge." His ability in oratory wins him many honors in high school. While "the bright, the strong, the able boys ... felt no need of him at all," Ellsworth gathered loyal followers. He attracted "the suffering and the ill-endowed." Content to observe, Ellsworth holds no particular post of any kind and has no private friends. One envious of Toohey's following comments that "Toohey draws the sticky kind ... mud and glue." "And cement," Toohey adds.

Toohey freely gives advice to anyone, but he himself has no career and no girlfriend. The narrator says, "He was indifferent to women of intellect." The 1925 publication of his book on architecture gains him a position writing on the topic with the Wynand paper. There "Toohey was the only Wynand employee who had a contract permitting him to write anything he pleased." He instigates any number of Councils composed of young artists who are "rabid individualists." At the same time, he speaks against individualism. When this seeming inconsistency is pointed out to him, Toohey merely says, "Do you really think so?" His manner is invariably "cool, self-possessed, amused, faintly patronizing." Toohey considers himself above all to be a humanitarian.

Part 2, Chapter 10

Roark is photographed by a young photographer from the Banner. It is at the opening of the Enright House in June 1929 at a moment Roark is looking up at the house. The art editor has the photo tossed into the morgue. But people who "were the sort who lead useful, active private lives in public silence" rent apartments in the Enright House. Toohey completely ignores it, but commissions come to Roark for private homes based on the Enright House. He expands his offices, finding employees whose attitudes were "not loyalty to him, but to the best within themselves."

Dominique remains in the city all summer, as connected to Roark as he is to her. Roark gets the commission to design the Aquitania Hotel from its backer, Lansing, who has battled the corporation to gain control of the hotel's design and give the project to Roark. Although Dominique is glad for Roark, she continues to oppose anyone thinking of going to Roark for their designs. Toohey has learned that multimillionaire Hopton Stoddard wishes to build a temple. He thinks he has come up with a way to ruin Roark once and for all. He steers Stoddard to ask Roark to design it and tells Stoddard that Roark will insist on having it entirely his own way. "Don't wait to see his drawings," Toohey tells him. Stoddard agrees with everything Toohey tells him to do in dealing with Roark. Stoddard (who is about to leave the city on an extended trip) is not even to see the temple until it has been built. As soon as Stoddard agrees, Toohey parades his plan in front of Dominique so that she will not mistake that Toohey had a hand in Roark's downfall. Roark meets with Stoddard and refuses the commission until Stoddard hands him the line Toohey has fed to him. "Let it be your spirit in the shape of a building—and it will have that meaning," Stoddard says.


It may seem odd to wait until close to end of the part of the book titled for Toohey to go into his background and growing up in Chapter 9. In so doing, Rand makes a distinct point about this complicated and secretive character. It is not nearly so important to know who Toohey is and how he became that way as it is to first observe the effect he has on other characters, and the conditions that do (and later do not) make it possible for him to enclose them in his particular brand of control. Toohey has very little going for him as a person and knows it. He is never good-looking, and people always turn their gaze away from his misshapen form to others who are more attractive. Toohey takes subtle and effective revenge for this chronic slight by cultivating a golden voice and using it to inflict his will on unsuspecting victims. Because he makes them feel worthy of his attention, Toohey is a magnet for the downtrodden, who bestow upon him a fierce loyalty. But men and women of intellect do not interest him, precisely because they don't need him to verify their purpose in life. Roark's employees are not loyal to him because he "loves" and soothes them—quite the opposite. He instead gives them an opportunity to discover the best in themselves.

Stoddard has no idea that his understanding of the meaning of the word "temple" and Roark's are so entirely different. It is something on which Toohey banks by telling Stoddard to let Roark have his way without even seeing the building until it is complete.

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