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Literature Study GuidesThe FountainheadPart 3 Chapters 1 2 Summary

The Fountainhead | Study Guide

Ayn Rand

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The Fountainhead | Part 3, Chapters 1–2 : Gail Wynand | Summary



Part 3, Chapter 1

One morning of October of 1932, Gail Wynand contemplates suicide. However, the prospect of dying doesn't seem to make him feel either "great joy or a healthy terror." He puts the gun away and starts his day. Then he marks the newspaper articles he wants his personal secretary to record. Wynand goes to his office to examine the proofs of the Sunday editorials and congratulates a senator on a bill that has yet to be passed. He also drops in on a meeting of the board of directors. No one in his empire is allowed to stop working or notice when Mr. Wynand enters or leaves a room. He examines maps of new real estate he has acquired with the intent of building "a new community of small home owners."

His routine of the day is broken when he gets a visit from Toohey. He knows that Wynand is looking for an architect for the Stoneridge project and proposes Keating. Wynand isn't interested, but Toohey tells him there's a present waiting for him when he gets home. He forgets all about Toohey and sits on the edge of his bed at the end of the day, gun in hand, trying to remember what it was all about.

Growing up, he remembers, had been a constant fight. Wynand had had to depend on his own wits to survive, living "with his father [a longshoreman] in the basement of an old house in the heart of Hell's Kitchen." He took his turn at theft, and sold newspapers, worked in a grocery, in a poolroom and as a bootblack on a ferryboat. As a youth he begins working for a newspaper, working his way up until he exposes the corrupt owners of the Gazette who had put him in front as their puppet. He became its sole owner, whereupon he changed its name to the Banner. "Gail Wynand delivered his paper, body and soul, to the mob," the narrator says. Leaving no stone unturned in selling papers with sensational headlines, Wynand finds many creative ways to generate stories when there are none.

When Wynand goes downstairs for a drink, he sees the crate Toohey has sent him, opens it, and finds the statue by Mallory of Dominique. The narrator says, "He stood looking at it for an hour." He summons Toohey to get the name of the sculptor, and when he is told Mrs. Keating is the model, he agrees to meet with her.

Part 3, Chapter 2

Twenty months into their marriage, Keating finds sitting alone with Dominique a kind of torment. Keating wills himself to be happy. But conversations with Dominique go nowhere because she tells him exactly what he wants to hear without offering any of her own input. Finally, his mother declares she can't stand it any longer and moves out. He says, "If she'd just get angry at me once ... it would be all right." When he tells Dominique she never gives him anything of her real self, she answers, "You've never wanted me to be real." Keating confesses that he hates Roark and Dominique allows herself a slight expression of pity for Keating. Toohey drops by with the proposition that Dominique could personally persuade Wynand to give Keating the Stoneridge project. He says she should call Wynand tomorrow morning. "Why can't she telephone now?" Keating asks. Dominique has no illusions as to Toohey's hand in all this. She tells Toohey, "You've got Peter Keating where you wanted him ... now mud clinging to your galoshes." Toohey lets her know he thinks it would be interesting to all involved if Dominique were to sleep with Wynand to get the commission for her husband.


With the married life of Dominique and Keating, Rand lays out an example of how she believes men choose women. Later, in Atlas Shrugged (1957), Rand explained, "the man who is convinced of his own worthlessness will be drawn to a woman he despises [because she] will reflect his own secret self ... give him a momentary illusion of his own value." Given this thinking, it is not possible that Keating would ever marry Catherine. She reflects to him such a devoted image of a man who is always right no matter what he does or says. Keating would very much like to have this sense of himself from Catherine, but knows deep down he could never live up to it. To have Catherine constantly reflecting this to him would be more than Keating could bear. Rand suggests that this may be the real reason Keating keeps putting off marrying Catherine. The time isn't yet right until it never is because what Keating is waiting for is to gain an unassailable self-worth that can meet Catherine's loyalty. Keating doesn't yet realize, despite the example Roark presents to him, that his self-worth can only come from him and not from others.

It would appear that Catherine's lack of sophistication and polish that Dominique possesses in abundance is a superficial reason for Keating's choice. However, it is really part of the whole. Catherine would sustain and uphold the private man as a suitable housewife, but she can't put on a public show.

Keating's eagerness for Dominique to call Wynand as soon as possible is particularly telling of his frame of mind. Dominique has gotten for him other prize commissions, and this is one he very much wants. Maybe getting the Stoneridge project will, at last, give Keating the certainty of his self-worth that has gone missing. He refuses to directly face what Toohey is dangling in front of him. But Keating must at some level recognize that what he's doing is selling his own wife to get what he wants.

Dominique's complete indifference and self-erasure from every private aspect of being married to Keating drive away Keating's mother. She is as much a non-entity to Dominique as Toohey is to Roark. As such, she not even worth it to Dominique to waste the expenditure of energy it would take to express anger. By giving Keating exactly what he wants—a trophy wife to make other men jealous of him—Dominique in large part accelerates Keating's ultimate failure.

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