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1-Page Summary of The Fountainhead
The novel begins with two students, Howard Roark and Peter Keating. Howard is expelled from the Stanton Institute of Technology for refusing to complete exercises in classical design. He goes to New York City to seek a position with Henry Cameron, an acclaimed modernist designer who is now reviled by his peers. In contrast, Peter receives a scholarship to study at Ecole des Beaux Arts in Paris but decides instead to work for Guy Francon because he believes it will be more lucrative than going abroad. Peter works his way up through the ranks until he becomes closer friends with Guy Francon and helps him become successful again after some mishaps occur in his career.
A new architecture critic, Ellsworth Toohey, is publishing a book about Guy Francon and Howard Roark. Peter Keating has not met him yet but he’s engaged to his niece.
While Roark works at his job, Keating comes to him for help with designs. However, Roark turns him down and Francon fires him. Roark gets a job designing modernist buildings but the building industry is on strike. When it ends, Heller asks Snyte to design a home for him and hires Roark after seeing his sketches of the house he wants built. He opens up his own firm.
Meanwhile, Peter Keating meets Dominique Francon and becomes attracted to her. He’s still engaged to Catherine but he begins pursuing Dominique. Roark is successful for a while, but then many obstacles are put in his way that make him fail. Eventually he goes back to work at the granite quarry until he can afford to start again.
At the quarry, Roark meets Dominique Francon. She is attracted to him but despises herself for it and thinks of ways she can torture him. He comes to her home one night and rapes her, assuming that this is what she wants from him. A week later he goes back to New York City where he builds the Enright House while Ellsworth Toohey writes a rave review about Peter Keating in his column for the Banner. They become friends.
Dominique is so impressed by Enright House that she thinks it should be destroyed. She and Roark have an affair, but she puts all of her energy into taking away his commissions and getting them for Keating because he doesn’t deserve a building designed by Howard Roark. A temple for World Religions is secured secretly by Toohey.
When the temple is built, it changes the way people view religion. The owner of the building files a lawsuit against Roark for this reason. He loses and Dominique testifies on his behalf despite her hatred for him. She gets fired from her job at the Banner because of this decision and she marries Peter Keating to punish herself. Their marriage is unhappy because they’re not attracted to each other sexually and Peter hides his unhappiness behind fake smiles. Toohey has become very influential in their lives by convincing them that Dominique should persuade Gail Wynand to let Peter design Stoneridge, which will be an important project if he wins it.
In this chapter, the author introduces a new character named Gail Wynand. He owns several newspapers including The Banner. He thinks about suicide because he’s bored with life. Then he receives a package from Toohey that contains the statue of Dominique which was supposed to be in The Stoddard Temple but got destroyed instead. As soon as he sees it, Wynand decides to see Keating’s wife so she can tell him who made it and give him more information on her husband.
On a cruise, Howard Roark proposes to Dominique and she accepts. Gail Wynand buys off Peter Keating. On her way to Reno for the divorce, Dominique stops at Roark’s house and they talk about their relationship. He tells her that he will wait as long as it takes for them to be together again. Meanwhile, in New York City, Ellsworth Toohey has control of all intellectual thought through his influence over who gets what jobs or opportunities in publishing media. As such, he begins abandoning Peter Keating when he learns that Dominique is getting remarried because she’ll no longer have any sort of relationship with him if she marries Roark instead of Keating (as both men are now outcasts).