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Literature Study GuidesThe FountainheadPart 4 Chapters 15 16 Summary

The Fountainhead | Study Guide

Ayn Rand

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The Fountainhead | Part 4, Chapters 15–16 : Howard Roark | Summary



Part 4, Chapter 15

Contrary to Wynand's orders, Toohey publishes a condemnation of Roark in his column. When Wynand reads it, he orders everyone involved, including Toohey, fired. But Toohey comes into his office laughing. He tells Wynand he's taking a leave of absence, but that "I'll be back. And when I am, I'll run this paper." Both members of the union and non-members at the Banner walk out on strike. This forces Wynand to put out the paper on minimal manpower. The narrator says, "The captain of a ship known by all, save the captain, to be sinking." The few employees who remain are harassed and beaten and delivery trucks are wrecked. Dominique comes in to help in any way she can, bringing him coffee and food and sweeping the floors. Finally, Wynand pays a visit to Roark and tells him he's let him down, but Roark tells him it won't matter one way or the other. The fight Wynand is waging is his fight to save himself, not Roark. Unsold stacks of newspapers accumulate "white stacks of paper like marble slabs."

Part 4, Chapter 16

Two months into the strike against the Banner the board of directors attempts to reason with Wynand to compromise with the strikers. They tell him they know no one is going to help him. Wynand remains silent. They plead, "You can't keep this up, even if you bought us all out. Give in or close the Banner. You had better give in."

Wynand agrees, leaving everything for Scarret to sort out. Wynand walks out into a city of strangers and feels that every one of them is his master. He buys a copy of the Banner and reads a condemnation of Roark in it with his name signed to it. "Anything may be betrayed," he thinks to himself. "But not those who lack the courage of their own greatness ... Not I. I was not born to be a second-hander."


Perhaps Rourke has learned the lesson of what happened when he helped Keating with his designs. Roark stands back and lets Wynand conduct his own fight for self-respect by allowing Wynand to directly take the blows handed to him. Dominique pitches in to help, demonstrating her own indifference to whatever menial work is needing to be done.

Wynand continues his crusade to support Roark in the face of blistering criticism and outright hostility from his readership. One can never betray the original orientation of a newspaper. If that happens, the readership and advertisers supporting it will walk. Wynand finds he must separate himself from the Banner entirely in order to keep from being pulled down to compromise with it.

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