||This plot summary may be too long or overly detailed. (March 2012)|
The Fountainhead is a fiction book written by Ayn Rand. The book was first printed in 1943.
Plot[change | change source]
The book starts in 1922 in Stanton; one of America's best colleges for architects. Howard Roark has just been expelled from Stanton because he wants to design modern buildings that are creative. But his professors want him to design old buildings. Howard believes that simple buildings can be built with glass, concrete and steel and still be attractive. Roark's roommate, Peter Keating, is given an award when he graduates, just after Roark is expelled. Keating is offered a job in New York at Francon & Heyer, a company that makes traditional buildings.
Roark leaves Stanton and goes to New York, so he can find Henry Cameron, the architect who invented skyscrapers. Roark gets a job at Cameron's company, designing modern buildings. He does not earn much money but Keating becomes rich because he designs traditional buildings for millionaires.
Keating also meets his old girlfriend, Catherine Halsey. Catherine tells Keating that her Uncle is Ellsworth Toohey, a respected writer for a Wynand newspaper called the Banner. Keating wants to meet Toohey, because he is an architecture expert and can get Keating new jobs and more money. But Keating doesn't want to meet Toohey until he is more famous, so that he can impress Toohey.
Roark then loses his job with Cameron because Cameron becomes sick and has to retire. Roark tries to find new jobs but is always turned down because he is too original. Keating wants Roark to work for him so that he can steal some of Roark's ideas. Keating decides to help Roark, because Roark has finished some of his projects at college and at Francon & Heyer.
Roark works for Francon & Heyer for a few days but when he asks if he can do a building in a modern style, he is told he has to leave or design the building in an old fashion style. He finally finds work with John Eric Snyte, an architect who hires Roark because Snyte likes to mix different styles.
A famous writer, Austin Heller comes to Snyte and asks for a house. Snyte gives all the architects a job of designing the house and then he mixes all the sketches. Heller says he only likes the modern parts and Roark tears up the drawings, telling Heller that wants to design the house on his own. Snyte fires Roark, but it is too late because Heller has accepted the deal and Roark is allowed to design the house while working for himself. He designs Heller's house, which leans over a cliff, and some other buildings.
Roark is very proud and turns down a lot of new jobs because he hates designing old buildings. He becomes so poor he has to close his business and he will not take any money from Heller, who is now his good friend. He finally takes a job in Connecticut, working in a quarry.
Keating is going to marry Catherine, but the boss of Francon & Heyer, Guy Francon, tries to introduce him to his daughter, Dominique. She writes for the Banner and knows Ellsworth Toohey. Dominique eventually meets Keating briefly when Guy Francon demands that she apologises for writing a bad review of a traditional building that has just been built. The building was made by one of Guy's friends and he is embarrassed.
Keating meets Dominique after she and Guy argue and she makes fun of Keating. She keeps writing bad reviews of buildings that are being made by architects who have no talent. She goes on holiday to her father's country house in Connecticut. Guy Francon owns the house and the quarry. She is walking one day and meets Roark. She is attracted to him because he is drilling some granite in the quarry and he looks masculine to Dominique. She comes back and visits him every day but always rude to him and never says how much she is attracted to him. Dominique goes back to her house and breaks her fireplace so that Roark will have to come up and fix it from the quarry and she can see him again.
He arrives and rapes Dominique, even though he does not really want to hurt her. He knows she feels lonely and she can't say how she feels about him. Roark leaves and gets a phone call saying a rich business man wants him to design a new shop for him. The business man saw Heller's house and tried to find Roark. Roark travels back to New York.
Characters[change | change source]
Howard Roark A gifted architect who is expelled from college for trying to be too original. He is unwilling to compromise and he doesn't care what people think about him.
Peter Keating He planned to become rich by just following what was popular, rather than being original like Roark. He said that because of that, he would be more successful than Roark. In the end, Keating admits that he is a failure and he was being used.
Ellsworth Toohey He is the antagonist (the bad guy) of the story. He tries to stop Roark from being successful by controlling weak-minded people. He believes in collectivism (when people join a group and they lose their own identity) and only helps people who are average and mediocre (not very talented). Dominique believes he is trying to control the Wynand newspapers.
Gail Wynand He is the owner of a newspaper that appeals to the opinion of the public. He realizes that he is a failure because of he made his newspaper company so people will read it and he can become rich. Rand says that you should only work at something you love, so if you want to run a newspaper, you should only do it because you love writing about important things.
Cameron said that Wynand was his enemy, because he wrote a newspaper that supported collectivism. Wynand understands that he is unhappy and becomes friends with Roark because he respects him.
Henry Cameron Roark's mentor. He invented Skyscrapers and designed modern buildings that most architects hated, because they weren't traditional enough. Cameron becomes an alcoholic and dies early in the novel.
Dominique Francon She is a woman who fears having great things such as love because society can destroy those great things. She marries Peter Keating first, then Gail Wynand. Roark changes her view of life and marries her.
Symbolism and themes[change | change source]
Architecture and skyscrapers in this novel are used to symbolize the ability of humans to do great things.
Basically, the theme of the novel is Rand's idea that being selfish can be a good thing, while being selfless can make a person a servant to other people. This novel has many themes that support ideas such as Objectivism, and Capitalism. This novel has many themes that are against ideas like Communism and Altruism.