Literature Study GuidesThe FountainheadPart 4 Chapters 9 10 Summary

The Fountainhead | Study Guide

Ayn Rand

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The Fountainhead | Part 4, Chapters 9–10 : Howard Roark | Summary

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Summary

Part 4, Chapter 9

Wynand, Dominique, and Roark sit together gazing at the completed Wynand house. Dominique finds herself accepting the house because Roark has designed it specifically and completely to her being. The narrator says, "She felt one with the house." Wynand observes this in wonder, saying "I didn't know a house could be designed for a woman, like a dress." He tells her that both she and the house belong to him and are safe in his possession. Dominique feels "I belong to him [Roark] here as I've never belonged to him." Roark is a frequent visitor, and the only one Wynand invites to the house. The growing ease between the two men torments Dominique. But she is determined to remain patient, knowing this is the test Roark has set for her to overcome. She makes one attempt to exert her influence on him by suggesting he sleep in instead of going out for a swim with Wynand. But Roark will not grant her even that small victory.

Keating presents Roark's design for Cortlandt to Toohey under Keating's name. But Toohey hints he knows the truth and congratulates Keating on his "success." Wynand sees the designs to which Keating has put his name. He knows at once it is Roark's work without looking at the signature and Dominique confirms it. Wynand finds himself sickened with the kinds of stories Scarret brings to him for publication and attempts to run better stories. But Scarret tells Wynand, "You're out of step with the times." Wynand takes this in stride. He finds himself unconcerned with the "We Don't Read Wynand" movement, Gus Webb, or the ebbing sales of the paper. He believes it all to be a temporary fad. He fights back by ordering every department in the paper to plug Roark "under every kind of ingenious pretext ... [and] written in good taste." He says the newspaper will consider only a "gracious tribute to the greatness of an artist." But this kind of publicity only opens Roark to ridicule as "Wynand's pet." The adversity only impels Wynand to redouble his efforts. He takes Roark to Hell's Kitchen and tells him he owns the block where he was born. Although not yet ready to do so, Wynand wants to clear away the slum and build the Wynand Building. It may be "perhaps the last skyscraper built in New York." It is to be Wynand's legacy and a gift to the only man he's ever respected, Roark.

Part 4, Chapter 10

Keating follows every specific detail of Roark's design for the Cortlandt proposal. On his walk home from Roark's office one evening, he meets up with Catherine. She is no longer living in New York, but back on a short visit, and she greets him with pleasant courtesy. She has heard he's working on the Cortlandt project but is fairly absorbed in her own work. He looks for some resentment in her for having left her to marry Dominique and is disappointed to find there is none. He is also surprised Catherine takes the lead, suggesting they get in out of the rain for a cup of tea. Then she steers him toward a diner nearby. When he orders coffee, she tells him, "You don't want that, Peter, it's very bad for you." Keating continues to attempt to find some hint of the vulnerable and loving Catherine he'd known before, but she treats him with neutral indifference. He asks her what she felt when he left her, and she admits she suffered, but it's in the past now. "I can't imagine myself married to you," she tells him. "I'm temperamentally unsuited to domesticity." He tries to apologize to her, but she seems merely pleased. She tells him, "I think it's agreeable to look back occasionally. But one's perspective widens. One grows richer spiritually with the years." In a moment she notes she's late and must leave, "gathering her bag and gloves, crumpling a paper napkin to a ball and dropping it neatly into her teacup."

Analysis

Roark expresses his conviction that a building must have an organic integrity like the body of a human being. It is one connection this character has with the real-life architect Frank Lloyd Wright (1867-1959), who is noted as the creator and expounder of "organic architecture." That is Wright's phrase indicating buildings that harmonize both with their inhabitants and with their environment. Roark knows Dominique so well that he has designed the Wynand house precisely to her very being, both physically and mentally. This prompts her to understand that Roark has done no less than to surround her with himself.

Keating keeps hoping throughout his conversation with Catherine to evoke some glimmer of her former loyalty and love for him. But she has completely moved on, following the track of self-denial and self-sacrifice in her work as her Uncle Toohey has outlined for her. Both Catherine and Keating have become creatures of Toohey's leveling of all humanity to its lowest common denominator. But unlike Keating, Catherine has embraced it without looking back. Keating, on the other hand, still grasps for his original ideals. He is tragically unaware that he has consistently and reliably betrayed that sense of himself. Catherine is as done with Keating as Dominique is with Wynand.

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