Literature Study GuidesThe FountainheadPart 4 Chapters 5 6 Summary

The Fountainhead | Study Guide

Ayn Rand

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The Fountainhead | Part 4, Chapters 5–6 : Howard Roark | Summary

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Summary

Part 4, Chapter 5

Wynand proofs copy for the Banner. The sentences seem to him like "used chewing gum ... passing from mouth to mouth to pavement to shoe sole to mouth to brain." Only the thought of Roark makes the sordid business of the newspaper bearable because it is also a pain. Wynand makes every excuse to be in Roark's company. He realizes that Roark completely ignores what other people think, concentrates entirely on his work, and has no desire to control another person than himself. When confronted with that aspect of Roark, Wynand compares his own very humble origins with those of Roark. He may be trying to understand exactly how they are the same and yet so different. Wynand's house takes shape while Wynand and Roark watch the progression of its building together. Wynand attempts to find the source of Roark's calm self-confidence and the meaning of life that sustains it. Roark's demonstration to Wynand of what this means is to bend the branch of a tree. Roark says, "Now I can make what I want of it: a bow, a spear, a cane, a railing. That's the meaning of life."

As the relationship between Roark and Wynand grows, Dominique leaves them alone, knowing she is not a part of it. She makes of the situation a gift of her patience to Roark, which is more difficult for her than even violence to bear. And it is the only thing she believes she now shares with Roark, "a discipline imposed on both of them, the last test."

Part 4, Chapter 6

Toohey holds forth on human nature, freedom, and happiness at the home of Mitchell Layton. He is a spoiled and wealthy board member Toohey has influenced to back the Banner. Layton bursts forth with "what makes people unhappy is not too little choice, but too much." He then goes on to state that it has all been written out in "the pyramids in Egypt." Toohey's eyeglasses "gave a spark, as if lighted from within." Each person present weighs in on has been said and then amplifies it with their own ideas. Toohey listens, thinking of "a huge typewriter [that] ... presupposes the hand that punches its keys." The conversation turns to the Banner and the idea that Wynand is slipping. An ominous note of this is implied by the "We Don't Read Wynand" movement run by Gus Webb and driving away nervous advertisers.

It is pointed out that Toohey works on the Banner and is "president of the Union of Wynand Employees." Toohey immediately scoffs that he is never president of anything and claims not to know anything about how it transformed from a club into a union. The wealthy young Layton complains that he could have beat Wynand at his own game. Toohey tells him, "You would never be able to match Gail Wynand's career. Not with your sensitive spirit and humanitarian instincts." Just as he had calculated he would, Layton preens under the flattery in a show of humility. Flush with the satisfying results of his manipulation of the conversation, Toohey walks home. He thinks of something he told Dominique about "a complicated piece of machinery, such as our society." He told her that you can make it "crumble into a worthless heap of scrap iron" as long you can find the right button to push.

Analysis

Wynand can't help but compare the products of his newspaper which are to him like used chewing gum with the fresh products of Roark's work. Although both Wynand and Roark grew up poor, they used their intellect and energies in different ways. Wynand has based the Banner on public interest stories which his newspaper constantly stirs up. He does this with the goal of controlling what and how other people think. In this aspect, Wynand has more in common with Toohey than he does with Roark. Toohey also works at controlling what other people think so that he can get them to do what he wants of them. Wynand does this openly and Toohey does this entirely by covert pressures to which he himself cannot be linked. But Roark operates on an entirely different basis. That is, Roark is concerned only with mastery of himself, his work, and the precise conditions under which he can work. And because he seeks no mastery over another person, Roark is correspondingly immune to being mastered by anyone else.

Toohey skillfully manages to tell the truth to Layton in such a way that the vain and spoiled young man is flattered. Layton is useful to Toohey at the moment in a way that Keating is slowly ceasing to be. Toohey holds no official position on any council he has started, but he is emphatically present. He uses his words like keys on a typewriter to shape opinions and create dependencies. Toohey has almost nothing going for him but the one single talent of a golden voice and the knowledge of how to make words compel exactly the effects he desires. He compares society to a complicated piece of machinery. This suggests that he believes himself capable of finding exactly the right button to push that will collapse the complexity of the Wynand empire.

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