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The Fountainheadby Ayn Rand
When The Fountainhead was first published, Ayn Rand's daringly original literary vision and her groundbreaking philosophy, Objectivism, won immediate worldwide interest and acclaim. This instant classic is the story of an intransigent young architect, his violent battle against conventional standards, and his explosive love affair with a beautiful woman who/i>… See more details below
When The Fountainhead was first published, Ayn Rand's daringly original literary vision and her groundbreaking philosophy, Objectivism, won immediate worldwide interest and acclaim. This instant classic is the story of an intransigent young architect, his violent battle against conventional standards, and his explosive love affair with a beautiful woman who struggles to defeat him. This edition contains a special afterword by Rand’s literary executor, Leonard Peikoff, which includes excerpts from Ayn Rand’s own notes on the making of The Fountainhead. As fresh today as it was then, here is a novel about a hero—and about those who try to destroy him.
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Table of Contents
THE WRITINGS OF AYN RAND
We the Living
The Early Ayn Rand
Night of January 16th
Objectivism: The Philosophy of Ayn Rand by Dr. Leonard Peikoff
The Ayn Rand Lexicon
The Ayn Rand Reader
Philosophy: Who Needs It?
The Voice of Reason
For the New Intellectual
The Ominous Parallels by Dr. Leonard Peikoff
The Virtue of Selfishness
An Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology
Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal
Return of the Primitive
Art, Literature, and Letters
The Romantic Manifesto
The Art of Fiction
The Art of Nonfiction
Journals of Ayn Rand
Letters of Ayn Rand
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Published by Plume, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc. Originally published by
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First Plume Printing (Centennial Edition), May 2005
Copyright The Bobbs-Merrill Company, 1943 Copyright Ayn Rand, 1968 Copyright renewed Ayn Rand, 1971 Copyright renewed Leonard Peikoff, Paul Gitlin and Eugene Winick, 1996 Afterword copyright © Leonard Peikoff, 1993 All rights reserved
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To Frank O’Connor
I offer my profound gratitude to the great profession of architecture and its heroes who have given us some of the highest expressions of man’s genius, yet have remained unknown, undiscovered by the majority of men. And to the architects who gave me their generous assistance in the technical matters of this book.
No person or event in this story is intended as a reference to any real person or event. The titles of the newspaper columns were invented and used by me in the first draft of this novel. They were not taken from and have no reference to any actual newspaper columns or features.
March 10, 1943
AUTHOR’S INTRODUCTION to the 1968 Edition
Many people have asked me how I feel about the fact that The Fountainhead has been in print for twenty-five years. I cannot say that I feel anything in particular, except a kind of quiet satisfaction. In this respect, my attitude toward my writing is best expressed by a statement of Victor Hugo: “If a writer wrote merely for his time, I would have to break my pen and throw it away.”
Certain writers, of whom I am one, do not live, think or write on the range of the moment. Novels, in the proper sense of the word, are not written to vanish in a month or a year. That most of them do, today, that they are written and published as if they were magazines, to fade as rapidly, is one of the sorriest aspects of today’s literature, and one of the clearest indictments of its dominant esthetic philosophy: concrete-bound, journalistic Naturalism which has now reached its dead end in the inarticulate sounds of panic.
Longevity—predominantly, though not exclusively—is the prerogative of a literary school which is virtually non-existent today: Romanticism. This is not the place for a dissertation on the nature of Romantic fiction, so let me state—for the record and for the benefit of those college students who have never been allowed to discover it—only that Romanticism is the conceptual school of art. It deals, not with the random trivia of the day, but with the timeless, fundamental, universal problems and values of human existence. It does not record or photograph; it creates and projects. It is concerned—in the words of Aristotle—not with things as they are, but with things as they might be and ought to be.
And for the benefit of those who consider relevance to one’s own time as of crucial importance, I will add, in regard to our age, that never has there been a time when men have so desperately needed a projection of things as they ought to be.
I do not mean to imply that I knew, when I wrote it, that The Fountainhead would remain in print for twenty-five years. I did not think of any specific time period. I knew only that it was a book that ought to live. It did.
But that I knew it over twenty-five years ago—that I knew it while The Fountainhead was being rejected by twelve publishers, some of whom declared that it was “too intellectual,” “too controversial” and would not sell because no audience existed for it—that was the difficult part of its history; difficult for me to bear. I mention it here for the sake of any other writer of my kind who might have to face the same battle—as a reminder of the fact that it can be done.
I will not retell here the story of the publication of The Fountainhead. But it would be impossible for me to discuss The Fountainhead or any part of its history without mentioning the man who made it possible for me to write it: my husband, Frank O’Connor.
In a play I wrote in my early thirties, Ideal, the heroine, a screen star, speaks for me when she says: “I want to see, real, living, and in the hours of my own days, that glory I create as an illusion. I want it real. I want to know that there is someone, somewhere, who wants it, too. Or else what is the use of seeing it, and working, and burning oneself for an impossible vision? A spirit, too, needs fuel. It can run dry.”
Frank was the fuel. He gave me, in the hours of my own days, the reality of that sense of life which created The Fountainhead—and he helped me to maintain it over a long span of years when there was nothing around us but a gray desert of people and events that evoked nothing but contempt and revulsion. The essence of the bond between us is the fact that neither of us has ever wanted or been tempted to settle for anything less than the world presented in The Fountainhead. We never will.
If there is in me any touch of the Naturalistic writer who records “real-life” dialogue for use in a novel, it has been exercised only in regard to Frank. For instance, one of the most effective lines in The Fountainhead comes at the end of Part II, when, in reply to Toohey’s question: “Why don’t you tell me what you think of me?” Roark answers: “But I don’t think of you.” That line was Frank’s answer to a different type of person, in a somewhat similar context. “You’re casting pearls without getting even a pork chop in return,” was said by Frank to me, in regard to my professional position. I gave that line to Dominique at Roark’s trial.
I did not feel discouragement very often, and when I did, it did not last longer than overnight. But there was one evening, during the writing of The Fountainhead, when I felt so profound an indignation at the state of “things as they are” that it seemed as if I would never regain the energy to move one step farther toward “things as they ought to be.” Frank talked to me for hours, that night. He convinced me of why one cannot give up the world to those one despises. By the time he finished, my discouragement was gone; it never came back in so intense a form.
I had been opposed to the practice of dedicating books; I had held that a book is addressed to any reader who proves worthy of it. But, that night, I told Frank that I would dedicate The Fountainhead to him because he had saved it. And one of my happiest moments, about two years later, was given to me by the look on his face when he came home, one day, and saw the page-proofs of the book, headed by the page that stated in cold, clear, objective print: To Frank O’Connor.
These are some of the reasons why, for me, the most profound personal meaning of this new, anniversary edition is the fact that its jacket carries the reproduction of a painting by Frank. It is like the completion, the proper climax of this book’s history.
That painting was not done for The Fountainhead. It represents Frank’s version of a sunrise we had seen once in San Francisco. His title for the painting is Man Also Rises.
I have been asked whether I have changed in these past twenty-five years. No, I am the same—only more so. Have my ideas changed? No, my fundamental convictions, my view of life and of man, have never changed, from as far back as I can remember, but my knowledge of their applications has grown, in scope and in precision. What is my present evaluation of The Fountainhead? I am as proud of it as I was on the day when I finished writing it.
Was The Fountainhead written for the purpose of presenting my philosophy? Here, I shall quote from The Goal of My Writing, an address I gave at Lewis and Clark College, on October 1, 1963: “This is the motive and purpose of my writing: the projection of an ideal man. The portrayal of a moral ideal, as my ultimate literary goal, as an end in itself—to which any didactic, intellectual or philosophical values contained in a novel are only the means.
“Let me stress this: my purpose is not the philosophical enlightenment of my readers ... My purpose, first cause and prime mover is the portrayal of Howard Roark [or the heroes of Atlas Shrugged] as an end in himself ...
“I write—and read—for the sake of the story.... My basic test for any story is: ‘Would I want to meet these characters and observe these events in real life? Is this story an experience worth living through for its own sake? Is the pleasure of contemplating these characters an end in itself?’
“Since my purpose is the presentation of an ideal man, I had to define and present the conditions which make him possible and which his existence requires. Since man’s character is the product of his premises, I had to define and present the kinds of premises and values that create the character of an ideal man and motivate his actions; which means that I had to define and present a rational code of ethics. Since man acts among and deals with other men, I had to present the kind of social system that makes it possible for ideal men to exist and to function—a free, productive, rational system which demands and rewards the best in every man, and which is, obviously, laissez-faire capitalism.
“But neither politics nor ethics nor philosophy is an end in itself, neither in life nor in literature. Only Man is an end in himself.”
Are there any substantial changes I would want to make in The Fountainhead? No—and, therefore, I have left its text untouched. I want it to stand as it was written. But there is one minor error and one possibly misleading sentence which I should like to clarify, so I shall mention them here.
The error is semantic: the use of the word “egotist” in Roark’s courtroom speech, while actually the word should have been “egoist.” The error was caused by my reliance on a dictionary which gave such misleading definitions of these two words that “egotist” seemed closer to the meaning I intended (Webster’s Daily Use Dictionary, 1933). (Modern philosophers, however, are guiltier than lexicographers in regard to these two terms.)
The possibly misleading sentence is in Roark’s speech: “From this simplest necessity to the highest religious abstraction, from the wheel to the skyscraper, everything we are and everything we have comes from a single attribute of man—the function of his reasoning mind.”
This could be misinterpreted to mean an endorsement of religion or religious ideas. I remember hesitating over that sentence, when I wrote it, and deciding that Roark’s and my atheism, as well as the overall spirit of the book, were so clearly established that no one would misunderstand it, particularly since I said that religious abstractions are the product of man’s mind, not of supernatural revelation.
But an issue of this sort should not be left to implications. What I was referring to was not religion as such, but a special category of abstractions, the most exalted one, which, for centuries, had been the near-monopoly of religion: ethics—not the particular content of religious ethics, but the abstraction “ethics,” the realm of values, man’s code of good and evil, with the emotional connotations of height, uplift, nobility, reverence, grandeur, which pertain to the realm of man’s values, but which religion has arrogated to itself.
The same meaning and considerations were intended and are applicable to another passage of the book, a brief dialogue between Roark and Hopton Stoddard, which may be misunderstood if taken out of context:
“ ‘You’re a profoundly religious man, Mr. Roark—in your own way. I can see that in your buildings.’
“ ‘That’s true,’ said Roark.”
In the context of that scene, however, the meaning is clear: it is Roark’s profound dedication to values, to the highest and best, to the ideal, that Stoddard is referring to (see his explanation of the nature of the proposed temple). The erection of the Stoddard Temple and the subsequent trial state the issue explicitly.
This leads me to a wider issue which is involved in every line of The Fountainhead and which has to be understood if one wants to understand the causes of its lasting appeal.
Religion’s monopoly in the field of ethics has made it extremely difficult to communicate the emotional meaning and connotations of a rational view of life. Just as religion has pre-empted the field of ethics, turning morality against man, so it has usurped the highest moral concepts of our language, placing them outside this earth and beyond man’s reach. “Exaltation” is usually taken to mean an emotional state evoked by contemplating the supernatural. “Worship” means the emotional experience of loyalty and dedication to something higher than man. “Reverence” means the emotion of a sacred respect, to be experienced on one’s knees. “Sacred” means superior to and not-to-be-touched-by any concerns of man or of this earth. Etc.
But such concepts do name actual emotions, even though no supernatural dimension exists; and these emotions are experienced as uplifting or ennobling, without the self-abasement required by religious definitions. What, then, is their source or referent in reality? It is the entire emotional realm of man’s dedication to a moral ideal. Yet apart from the man-degrading aspects introduced by religion, that emotional realm is left unidentified, without concepts, words or recognition.
It is this highest level of man’s emotions that has to be redeemed from the murk of mysticism and redirected at its proper object: man.
It is in this sense, with this meaning and intention, that I would identify the sense of life dramatized in The Fountainhead as man-worship.
It is an emotion that a few—a very few—men experience consistently ; some men experience it in rare, single sparks that flash and die without consequences; some do not know what I am talking about; some do and spend their lives as frantically virulent spark-extinguishers.
Do not confuse “man-worship” with the many attempts, not to emancipate morality from religion and bring it into the realm of reason, but to substitute a secular meaning for the worst, the most profoundly irrational elements of religion. For instance, there are all the variants of modern collectivism (communist, fascist, Nazi, etc.), which preserve the religious-altruist ethics in full and merely substitute “society” for God as the beneficiary of man’s self-immolation. There are the various schools of modern philosophy which, rejecting the law of identity, proclaim that reality is an indeterminate flux ruled by miracles and shaped by whims—not God’s whims, but man’s or “society’s.” These neo-mystics are not man-worshipers; they are merely the secularizers of as profound a hatred for man as that of their avowedly mystic predecessors.
A cruder variant of the same hatred is represented by those concrete-bound, “statistical” mentalities who—unable to grasp the meaning of man’s volition—declare that man cannot be an object of worship, since they have never encountered any specimens of humanity who deserved it.
The man-worshipers, in my sense of the term, are those who see man’s highest potential and strive to actualize it. The man-haters are those who regard man as a helpless, depraved, contemptible creature -and struggle never to let him discover otherwise. It is important here to remember that the only direct, introspective knowledge of man anyone possesses is of himself.
More specifically, the essential division between these two camps is: those dedicated to the exaltation of man’s self-esteem and the sacred-ness of his happiness on earth—and those determined not to allow either to become possible. The majority of mankind spend their lives and psychological energy in the middle, swinging between these two, struggling not to allow the issue to be named. This does not change the nature of the issue.
Perhaps the best way to communicate The Fountainhead’s sense of life is by means of the quotation which had stood at the head of my manuscript, but which I removed from the final, published book. With this opportunity to explain it, I am glad to bring it back.
I removed it, because of my profound disagreement with the philosophy of its author, Friedrich Nietzsche. Philosophically, Nietzsche is a mystic and an irrationalist. His metaphysics consists of a somewhat “Byronic” and mystically “malevolent” universe; his epistemology subordinates reason to “will,” or feeling or instinct or blood or innate virtues of character. But, as a poet, he projects at times (not consistently) a magnificent feeling for man’s greatness, expressed in emotional, not intellectual, terms.
This is especially true of the quotation I had chosen. I could not endorse its literal meaning: it proclaims an indefensible tenet—psychological determinism. But if one takes it as a poetic projection of an emotional experience (and if, intellectually, one substitutes the concept of an acquired “basic premise” for the concept of an innate “fundamental certainty”), then that quotation communicates the inner state of an exalted self-esteem-and sums up the emotional consequences for which The Fountainhead provides the rational, philosophical base:
“It is not the works, but the belief which is here decisive and determines the order of rank—to employ once more an old religious formula with a new and deeper meaning,—it is some fundamental certainty which a noble soul has about itself, something which is not to be sought, is not to be found, and perhaps, also, is not to be lost. -The noble soul has reverence for itself.—” (Friedrich Nietzsche, Beyond Good and Evil.)
This view of man has rarely been expressed in human history. Today, it is virtually non-existent. Yet this is the view with which—in various degrees of longing, wistfulness, passion and agonized confusion -the best of mankind’s youth start out in life. It is not even a view, for most of them, but a foggy, groping, undefined sense made of raw pain and incommunicable happiness. It is a sense of enormous expectation, the sense that one’s life is important, that great achievements are within one’s capacity, and that great things lie ahead.
It is not in the nature of man—nor of any living entity—to start out by giving up, by spitting in one’s own face and damning existence; that requires a process of corruption whose rapidity differs from man to man. Some give up at the first touch of pressure; some sell out; some run down by imperceptible degrees and lose their fire, never knowing when or how they lost it. Then all of these vanish in the vast swamp of their elders who tell them persistently that maturity consists of abandoning one’s mind; security, of abandoning one’s values; practicality, of losing self-esteem. Yet a few hold on and move on, knowing that that fire is not to be betrayed, learning how to give it shape, purpose and reality. But whatever their future, at the dawn of their lives, men seek a noble vision of man’s nature and of life’s potential.
There are very few guideposts to find. The Fountainhead is one of them.
This is one of the cardinal reasons of The Fountainhead’s lasting appeal: it is a confirmation of the spirit of youth, proclaiming man’s glory, showing how much is possible.
It does not matter that only a few in each generation will grasp and achieve the full reality of man’s proper stature—and that the rest will betray it. It is those few that move the world and give life its meaning—and it is those few that I have always sought to address. The rest are no concern of mine; it is not me or The Fountainhead that they will betray: it is their own souls.
New York, May 1968
HOWARD ROARK LAUGHED. He stood naked at the edge of a cliff. The lake lay far below him. A frozen explosion of granite burst in flight to the sky over motionless water. The water seemed immovable, the stone flowing. The stone had the stillness of one brief moment in battle when thrust meets thrust and the currents are held in a pause more dynamic than motion. The stone glowed, wet with sunrays.
The lake below was only a thin steel ring that cut the rocks in half. The rocks went on into the depth, unchanged. They began and ended in the sky. So that the world seemed suspended in space, an island floating on nothing, anchored to the feet of the man on the cliff.
His body leaned back against the sky. It was a body of long straight lines and angles, each curve broken into planes. He stood, rigid, his hands hanging at his sides, palms out. He felt his shoulder blades drawn tight together, the curve of his neck, and the weight of the blood in his hands. He felt the wind behind him, in the hollow of his spine. The wind waved his hair against the sky. His hair was neither blond nor red, but the exact color of ripe orange rind.
He laughed at the thing which had happened to him that morning and at the things which now lay ahead.
He knew that the days ahead would be difficult. There were questions to be faced and a plan of action to be prepared. He knew that he should think about it. He knew also that he would not think, because everything was clear to him already, because the plan had been set long ago, and because he wanted to laugh.
He tried to consider it. But he forgot. He was looking at the granite.
He did not laugh as his eyes stopped in awareness of the earth around him. His face was like a law of nature—a thing one could not question, alter or implore. It had high cheekbones over gaunt, hollow cheeks; gray eyes, cold and steady; a contemptuous mouth, shut tight, the mouth of an executioner or a saint.
He looked at the granite. To be cut, he thought, and made into walls. He looked at a tree. To be split and made into rafters. He looked at a streak of rust on the stone and thought of iron ore under the ground. To be melted and to emerge as girders against the sky.
These rocks, he thought, are here for me; waiting for the drill, the dynamite and my voice; waiting to be split, ripped, pounded, reborn; waiting for the shape my hands will give them.
Then he shook his head, because he remembered that morning and that there were many things to be done. He stepped to the edge, raised his arms, and dived down into the sky below.
He cut straight across the lake to the shore ahead. He reached the rocks where he had left his clothes. He looked regretfully about him. For three years, ever since he had lived in Stanton, he had come here for his only relaxation, to swim, to rest, to think, to be alone and alive, whenever he could find one hour to spare, which had not been often. In his new freedom the first thing he had wanted to do was to come here, because he knew that he was coming for the last time. That morning he had been expelled from the Architectural School of the Stanton Institute of Technology.
He pulled his clothes on: old denim trousers, sandals, a shirt with short sleeves and most of its buttons missing. He swung down a narrow trail among the boulders, to a path running through a green slope, to the road below.
He walked swiftly, with a loose, lazy expertness of motion. He walked down the long road, in the sun. Far ahead Stanton lay sprawled on the coast of Massachusetts, a little town as a setting for the gem of its existence—the great institute rising on a hill beyond.
The township of Stanton began with a dump. A gray mound of refuse rose in the grass. It smoked faintly. Tin cans glittered in the sun. The road led past the first houses to a church. The church was a Gothic monument of shingles painted pigeon blue. It had stout wooden buttresses supporting nothing. It had stained-glass windows with heavy traceries of imitation stone. It opened the way into long streets edged by tight, exhibitionist lawns. Behind the lawns stood wooden piles tortured out of all shape: twisted into gables, turrets, dormers; bulging with porches; crushed under huge, sloping roofs. White curtains floated at the windows. A garbage can stood at a side door, flowing over. An old Pekinese sat upon a cushion on a door step, its mouth drooling. A line of diapers fluttered in the wind between the columns of a porch.
People turned to look at Howard Roark as he passed. Some remained staring after him with sudden resentment. They could give no reason for it: it was an instinct his presence awakened in most people. Howard Roark saw no one. For him, the streets were empty. He could have walked there naked without concern.
He crossed the heart of Stanton, a broad green edged by shop windows. The windows displayed new placards announcing: WELCOME TO THE CLASS OF ‘22! GOOD LUCK, CLASS OF ’22! The Class of ’22 of the Stanton Institute of Technology was holding its commencement exercises that afternoon.
Roark swung into a side street, where at the end of a long row, on a knoll over a green ravine, stood the house of Mrs. Keating. He had boarded at that house for three years.
Mrs. Keating was out on the porch. She was feeding a couple of canaries in a cage suspended over the railing. Her pudgy little hand stopped in mid-air when she saw him. She watched him with curiosity. She tried to pull her mouth into a proper expression of sympathy; she succeeded only in betraying that the process was an effort.
He was crossing the porch without noticing her. She stopped him.
“Mr. Roark, I’m so sorry about—” she hesitated demurely “—about what happened this morning.”
“What?” he asked.
“Your being expelled from the Institute. I can’t tell you how sorry I am. I only want you to know that I feel for you.”
He stood looking at her. She knew that he did not see her. No, she thought, it was not that exactly. He always looked straight at people and his damnable eyes never missed a thing, it was only that he made people feel as if they did not exist. He just stood looking. He would not answer.
“But what I say,” she continued, “is that if one suffers in this world, it’s on account of error. Of course, you’ll have to give up the architect profession now, won’t you? But then a young man can always earn a decent living clerking or selling or something.”
He turned to go.
“Oh, Mr. Roark!” she called.
“The Dean phoned for you while you were out.”
For once, she expected some emotion from him; and an emotion would be the equivalent of seeing him broken. She did not know what it was about him that had always made her want to see him broken.
“Yes?” he asked.
“The Dean,” she repeated uncertainly, trying to recapture her effect. “The Dean himself through his secretary.”
“She said to tell you that the Dean wanted to see you immediately the moment you got back.”
“What do you suppose he can want now?”
“I don’t know.”
He had said: “I don’t know.” She had heard distinctly: “I don’t give a damn.” She stared at him incredulously.
“By the way,” she said, “Petey is graduating today.” She said it without apparent relevance.
“Today? Oh, yes.”
“It’s a great day for me. When I think of how I skimped and slaved to put my boy through school. Not that I’m complaining. I’m not one to complain. Petey’s a brilliant boy.”
She stood drawn up. Her stout little body was corseted so tightly under the starched folds of her cotton dress that it seemed to squeeze the fat out to her wrists and ankles.
“But of course,” she went on rapidly, with the eagerness of her favorite subject, “I’m not one to boast. Some mothers are lucky and others just aren’t. We’re all in our rightful place. You just watch Petey from now on. I’m not one to want my boy to kill himself with work and I’ll thank the Lord for any small success that comes his way. But if that boy isn’t the greatest architect of this U.S.A., his mother will want to know the reason why!”
He moved to go.
“But what am I doing, gabbing with you like that!” she said brightly. “You’ve got to hurry and change and run along. The Dean’s waiting for you. ”
She stood looking after him through the screen door, watching his gaunt figure move across the rigid neatness of her parlor. He always made her uncomfortable in the house, with a vague feeling of apprehension, as if she were waiting to see him swing out suddenly and smash her coffee tables, her Chinese vases, her framed photographs. He had never shown any inclination to do so. She kept expecting it, without knowing why.
Roark went up the stairs to his room. It was a large, bare room, made luminous by the clean glow of whitewash. Mrs. Keating had never had the feeling that Roark really lived there. He had not added a single object to the bare necessities of furniture which she had provided; no pictures, no pennants, no cheering human touch. He had brought nothing to the room but his clothes and his drawings; there were few clothes and too many drawings; they were stacked high in one corner; sometimes she thought that the drawings lived there, not the man.
Roark walked now to these drawings; they were the first things to be packed. He lifted one of them, then the next, then another. He stood looking at the broad sheets.
They were sketches of buildings such as had never stood on the face of the earth. They were as the first houses built by the first man born, who had never heard of others building before him. There was nothing to be said of them, except that each structure was inevitably what it had to be. It was not as if the draftsman had sat over them, pondering laboriously, piecing together doors, windows and columns, as his whim dictated and as the books prescribed. It was as if the buildings had sprung from the earth and from some living force, complete, unalterably right. The hand that had made the sharp pencil lines still had much to learn. But not a line seemed superfluous, not a needed plane was missing. The structures were austere and simple, until one looked at them and realized what work, what complexity of method, what tension of thought had achieved the simplicity. No laws had dictated a single detail. The buildings were not Classical, they were not Gothic, they were not Renaissance. They were only Howard Roark.
He stopped, looking at a sketch. It was one that had never satisfied him. He had designed it as an exercise he had given himself, apart from his schoolwork; he did that often when he found some particular site and stopped before it to think of what building it should bear. He had spent nights staring at this sketch, wondering what he had missed. Glancing at it now, unprepared, he saw the mistake he had made.
He flung the sketch down on the table, he bent over it, he slashed lines straight through his neat drawing. He stopped once in a while and stood looking at it, his finger tips pressed to the paper; as if his hands held the building. His hands had long fingers, hard veins, prominent joints and wristbones.
An hour later he heard a knock at his door.
“Come in!” he snapped, without stopping.
“Mr. Roark!” gasped Mrs. Keating, staring at him from the threshold. “What on earth are you doing?”
He turned and looked at her, trying to remember who she was.
“How about the Dean?” she moaned. “The Dean that’s waiting for you?”
“Oh,” said Roark. “Oh, yes. I forgot.”
“You ... forgot?”
“Yes.” There was a note of wonder in his voice, astonished by her astonishment.
“Well, all I can say,” she choked, “is that it serves you right! It just serves you right. And with the commencement beginning at four-thirty, how do you expect him to have time to see you?”
“I’ll go at once, Mrs. Keating.”
It was not her curiosity alone that prompted her to action; it was a secret fear that the sentence of the Board might be revoked. He went to the bathroom at the end of the hall; she watched him washing his hands, throwing his loose, straight hair back into a semblance of order. He came out again, he was on his way to the stairs before she realized that he was leaving.
“Mr. Roark!” she gasped, pointing at his clothes. “You’re not going like this?”
“But it’s your Dean!”
“Not any more, Mrs. Keating.”
She thought, aghast, that he said it as if he were actually happy.
The Stanton Institute of Technology stood on a hill, its crenelated walls raised as a crown over the city stretched below. It looked like a medieval fortress, with a Gothic cathedral grafted to its belly. The fortress was eminently suited to its purpose, with stout, brick walls, a few slits wide enough for sentries, ramparts behind which defending archers could hide, and corner turrets from which boiling oil could be poured upon the attacker—should such an emergency arise in an institute of learning. The cathedral rose over it in lace splendor, a fragile defense against two great enemies: light and air.
The Dean’s office looked like a chapel, a pool of dreamy twilight fed by one tall window of stained glass. The twilight flowed in through the garments of stiff saints, their arms contorted at the elbows. A red spot of light and a purple one rested respectively upon two genuine gargoyles squatting at the corners of a fireplace that had never been used. A green spot stood in the center of a picture of the Parthenon, suspended over the fireplace.
When Roark entered the office, the outlines of the Dean’s figure swam dimly behind his desk, which was carved like a confessional. He was a short, plumpish gentleman whose spreading flesh was held in check by an indomitable dignity.
“Ah, yes, Roark,” he smiled. “Do sit down, please.”
Roark sat down. The Dean entwined his fingers on his stomach and waited for the plea he expected. No plea came. The Dean cleared his throat.
“It will be unnecessary for me to express my regret at the unfortunate event of this morning,” he began, “since I take it for granted that you have always known my sincere interest in your welfare.”
“Quite unnecessary,” said Roark.
The Dean looked at him dubiously, but continued:
“Needless to say, I did not vote against you. I abstained entirely. But you may be glad to know that you had quite a determined little group of defenders at the meeting. Small, but determined. Your professor of structural engineering acted quite the crusader on your behalf. So did your professor of mathematics. Unfortunately, those who felt it their duty to vote for your expulsion quite outnumbered the others. Professor Peterkin, your critic of design, made an issue of the matter. He went so far as to threaten us with his resignation unless you were expelled. You must realize that you have given Professor Peterkin great provocation.”
“I do,” said Roark.
“That, you see, was the trouble. I am speaking of your attitude towards the subject of architectural design. You have never given it the attention it deserves. And yet, you have been excellent in all the engineering sciences. Of course, no one denies the importance of structural engineering to a future architect, but why go to extremes? Why neglect what may be termed the artistic and inspirational side of your profession and concentrate on all those dry, technical, mathematical subjects? You intended to become an architect, not a civil engineer.”
“Isn’t this superfluous?” Roark asked. “It’s past. There’s no point in discussing my choice of subjects now.”
“I am endeavoring to be helpful, Roark. You must be fair about this. You cannot say that you were not given many warnings before this happened.”
The Dean moved in his chair. Roark made him uncomfortable. Roark’s eyes were fixed on him politely. The Dean thought, there’s nothing wrong with the way he’s looking at me, in fact it’s quite correct, most properly attentive; only, it’s as if I were not here.
“Every problem you were given,” the Dean went on, “every project you had to design—what did you do with it? Every one of them done in that—well, I cannot call it a style—in that incredible manner of yours. It is contrary to every principle we have tried to teach you, contrary to all established precedents and traditions of Art. You may think you are what is called a modernist, but it isn’t even that. It is ... it is sheer insanity, if you don’t mind.”
“I don’t mind.”
“When you were given projects that left the choice of style up to you and you turned in one of your wild stunts—well, frankly, your teachers passed you because they did not know what to make of it. But, when you were given an exercise in the historical styles, a Tudor chapel or a French opera house to design—and you turned in something that looked like a lot of boxes piled together without rhyme or reason—would you say it was an answer to an assignment or plain insubordination?”
“It was insubordination,” said Roark.
“We wanted to give you a chance—in view of your brilliant record in all other subjects. But when you turn in this—” the Dean slammed his fist down on a sheet spread before him—“this as a Renaissance villa for your final project of the year—really, my boy, it was too much!”
The sheet bore a drawing—a house of glass and concrete. In the corner there was a sharp, angular signature: Howard Roark.
“How do you expect us to pass you after this?”
“You left us no choice in the matter. Naturally, you would feel bitterness toward us at this moment, but ...”
“I feel nothing of the kind,” said Roark quietly. “I owe you an apology. I don’t usually let things happen to me. I made a mistake this time. I shouldn’t have waited for you to throw me out. I should have left long ago.”
“Now, now, don’t get discouraged. This is not the right attitude to take. Particularly in view of what I am going to tell you.”
The Dean smiled and leaned forward confidentially, enjoying the overture to a good deed.
“Here is the real purpose of our interview. I was anxious to let you know as soon as possible. I did not wish to leave you disheartened. Oh, I did, personally, take a chance with the President’s temper when I mentioned this to him, but ... Mind you, he did not commit himself, but ... Here is how things stand: now that you realize how serious it is, if you take a year off, to rest, to think it over—shall we say to grow up?—there might be a chance of our taking you back. Mind you, I cannot promise anything—this is strictly unofficial—it would be most unusual, but in view of the circumstances and of your brilliant record, there might be a very good chance.”
Roark smiled. It was not a happy smile, it was not a grateful one. It was a simple, easy smile and it was amused.
“I don’t think you understood me,” said Roark. “What made you suppose that I want to come back?”
“I won’t be back. I have nothing further to learn here.”
“I don’t understand you,” said the Dean stiffly.
“Is there any point in explaining? It’s of no interest to you any longer.”
“You will kindly explain yourself.”
“If you wish. I want to be an architect, not an archeologist. I see no purpose in doing Renaissance villas. Why learn to design them, when I’ll never build them?”
“My dear boy, the great style of the Renaissance is far from dead. Houses of that style are being erected every day.”
“They are. And they will be. But not by me.”
“Come, come, now, this is childish.”
“I came here to learn about building. When I was given a project, its only value to me was to learn to solve it as I would solve a real one in the future. I did them the way I’ll build them. I’ve learned all I could learn here—in the structural sciences of which you don’t approve. One more year of drawing Italian post cards would give me nothing.”
An hour ago the Dean had wished that this interview would proceed as calmly as possible. Now he wished that Roark would display some emotion; it seemed unnatural for him to be so quietly natural in the circumstances.
“Do you mean to tell me that you’re thinking seriously of building that way, when and if you are an architect?”
“My dear fellow, who will let you?”
“That’s not the point. The point is, who will stop me?”
“Look here, this is serious. I am sorry that I haven’t had a long, earnest talk with you much earlier.... I know, I know, I know, don’t interrupt me, you’ve seen a modernistic building or two, and it gave you ideas. But do you realize what a passing fancy that whole so-called modern movement is? You must learn to understand—and it has been proved by all authorities—that everything beautiful in architecture has been done already. There is a treasure mine in every style of the past. We can only choose from the great masters. Who are we to improve upon them? We can only attempt, respectfully, to repeat.”
“Why?” asked Howard Roark.
No, thought the Dean, no, he hasn’t said anything else; it’s a perfectly innocent word; he’s not threatening me.
“But it’s self-evident!” said the Dean.
“Look,” said Roark evenly, and pointed at the window. “Can you see the campus and the town? Do you see how many men are walking and living down there? Well, I don’t give a damn what any or all of them think about architecture—or about anything else, for that matter. Why should I consider what their grandfathers thought of it?”
“That is our sacred tradition.”
“For heaven’s sake, can’t you stop being so naive about it?”
“But I don’t understand. Why do you want me to think that this is great architecture?” He pointed to the picture of the Parthenon.
“That,” said the Dean, “is the Parthenon.”
“So it is.”
“I haven’t the time to waste on silly questions.”
“All right, then.” Roark got up, he took a long ruler from the desk, he walked to the picture. “Shall I tell you what’s rotten about it?”
“It’s the Parthenon!” said the Dean.
“Yes, God damn it, the Parthenon!”
The ruler struck the glass over the picture.
“Look,” said Roark. “The famous flutings on the famous columns—what are they there for? To hide the joints in wood—when columns were made of wood, only these aren’t, they’re marble. The triglyphs, what are they? Wood. Wooden beams, the way they had to be laid when people began to build wooden shacks. Your Greeks took marble and they made copies of their wooden structures out of it, because others had done it that way. Then your masters of the Renaissance came along and made copies in plaster of copies in marble of copies in wood. Now here we are, making copies in steel and concrete of copies in plaster of copies in marble of copies in wood. Why?”
The Dean sat watching him curiously. Something puzzled him, not in the words, but in Roark’s manner of saying them.
“Rules?” said Roark. “Here are my rules: what can be done with one substance must never be done with another. No two materials are alike. No two sites on earth are alike. No two buildings have the same purpose. The purpose, the site, the material determine the shape. Nothing can be reasonable or beautiful unless it’s made by one central idea, and the idea sets every detail. A building is alive, like a man. Its integrity is to follow its own truth, its one single theme, and to serve its own single purpose. A man doesn’t borrow pieces of his body. A building doesn’t borrow hunks of its soul. Its maker gives it the soul and every wall, window and stairway to express it.”
“But all the proper forms of expression have been discovered long ago.”
“Expression—of what? The Parthenon did not serve the same purpose as its wooden ancestor. An airline terminal does not serve the same purpose as the Parthenon. Every form has its own meaning. Every man creates his meaning and form and goal. Why is it so important—what others have done? Why does it become sacred by the mere fact of not being your own? Why is anyone and everyone right—so long as it’s not yourself? Why does the number of those others take the place of truth? Why is truth made a mere matter of arithmetic—and only of addition at that? Why is everything twisted out of all sense to fit everything else? There must be some reason. I don’t know. I’ve never known it. I’d like to understand.”
“For heaven’s sake,” said the Dean. “Sit down.... That’s better.... Would you mind very much putting that ruler down? ... Thank you.... Now listen to me. No one has ever denied the importance of modern technique to an architect. We must learn to adapt the beauty of the past to the needs of the present. The voice of the past is the voice of the people. Nothing has ever been invented by one man in architecture. The proper creative process is a slow, gradual, anonymous, collective one, in which each man collaborates with all the others and subordinates himself to the standards of the majority.”
“But you see,” said Roark quietly, “I have, let’s say, sixty years to live. Most of that time will be spent working. I’ve chosen the work I want to do. If I find no joy in it, then I’m only condemning myself to sixty years of torture. And I can find the joy only if I do my work in the best way possible to me. But the best is a matter of standards—and I set my own standards. I inherit nothing. I stand at the end of no tradition. I may, perhaps, stand at the beginning of one.”
“How old are you?” asked the Dean.
“Twenty-two,” said Roark.
“Quite excusable,” said the Dean; he seemed relieved. “You’ll outgrow all that.” He smiled. “The old standards have lived for thousands of years and nobody has been able to improve upon them. What are your modernists? A transient mode, exhibitionists trying to attract attention. Have you observed the course of their careers? Can you name one who has achieved any permanent distinction? Look at Henry Cameron. A great man, a leading architect twenty years ago. What is he today? Lucky if he gets—once a year—a garage to remodel. A bum and a drunkard, who ...”
“We won’t discuss Henry Cameron.”
“Oh? Is he a friend of yours?”
“No. But I’ve seen his buildings.”
“And you found them ...”
“I said we won’t discuss Henry Cameron.”
“Very well. You must realize that I am allowing you a great deal of ... shall we say, latitude? I am not accustomed to hold a discussion with a student who behaves in your manner. However, I am anxious to forestall, if possible, what appears to be a tragedy, the spectacle of a young man of your obvious mental gifts setting out deliberately to make a mess of his life.”
The Dean wondered why he had promised the professor of mathematics to do all he could for this boy. Merely because the professor had said: “This,” and pointed to Roark’s project, “is a great man.” A great man, thought the Dean, or a criminal. The Dean winced. He did not approve of either.
He thought of what he had heard about Roark’s past. Roark’s father had been a steel puddler somewhere in Ohio and had died long ago. The boy’s entrance papers showed no record of nearest relatives. When asked about it, Roark had said indifferently: “I don’t think I have any relatives. I may have. I don’t know.” He had seemed astonished that he should be expected to have any interest in the matter. He had not made or sought a single friend on the campus. He had refused to join a fraternity. He had worked his way through high school and through the three years here at the Institute. He had worked as a common laborer in the building trades since childhood. He had done plastering, plumbing, steel work, anything he could get, going from one small town to another, working his way east, to the great cities. The Dean had seen him, last summer, on his vacation, catching rivets on a skyscraper in construction in Boston; his long body relaxed under greasy overalls, only his eyes intent, and his right arm swinging forward, once in a while, expertly, without effort, to catch the flying ball of fire at the last moment, when it seemed that the hot rivet would miss the bucket and strike him in the face.
“Look here, Roark,” said the Dean gently. “You have worked hard for your education. You had only one year left to go. There is something important to consider, particularly for a boy in your position. There’s the practical side of an architect’s career to think about. An architect is not an end in himself. He is only a small part of a great social whole. Co-operation is the key word to our modern world and to the profession of architecture in particular. Have you thought of your potential clients ?”
“Yes,” said Roark.
“The Client,” said the Dean. “The Client. Think of that above all. He’s the one to live in the house you build. Your only purpose is to serve him. You must aspire to give the proper artistic expression to his wishes. Isn’t that all one can say on the subject?”
“Well, I could say that I must aspire to build for my client the most comfortable, the most logical, the most beautiful house that can be built. I could say that I must try to sell him the best I have and also teach him to know the best. I could say it, but I won’t. Because I don’t intend to build in order to serve or help anyone. I don’t intend to build in order to have clients. I intend to have clients in order to build.”
“How do you propose to force your ideas on them?”
“I don’t propose to force or be forced. Those who want me will come to me.”
Then the Dean understood what had puzzled him in Roark’s manner.
“You know,” he said, “you would sound much more convincing if you spoke as if you cared whether I agreed with you or not.”
“That’s true,” said Roark. “I don’t care whether you agree with me or not.” He said it so simply that it did not sound offensive, it sounded like the statement of a fact which he noticed, puzzled, for the first time.
“You don’t care what others think—which might be understandable. But you don’t care even to make them think as you do?”
“But that’s ... that’s monstrous.”
“Is it? Probably. I couldn’t say.”
“I’m glad of this interview,” said the Dean, suddenly, too loudly. “It has relieved my conscience. I believe, as others stated at the meeting, that the profession of architecture is not for you. I have tried to help you. Now I agree with the Board. You are a man not to be encouraged. You are dangerous.”
“To whom?” asked Roark.
But the Dean rose, indicating that the interview was over.
Roark left the room. He walked slowly through the long halls, down the stairs, out to the lawn below. He had met many men such as the Dean; he had never understood them. He knew only that there was some important difference between his actions and theirs. It had ceased to disturb him long ago. But he always looked for a central theme in buildings and he looked for a central impulse in men. He knew the source of his actions; he could not discover theirs. He did not care. He had never learned the process of thinking about other people. But he wondered, at times, what made them such as they were. He wondered again, thinking of the Dean. There was an important secret involved somewhere in that question, he thought. There was a principle which he must discover.
But he stopped. He saw the sunlight of late afternoon, held still in the moment before it was to fade, on the gray limestone of a stringcourse running along the brick wall of the Institute building. He forgot men, the Dean and the principle behind the Dean, which he wanted to discover. He thought only of how lovely the stone looked in the fragile light and of what he could have done with that stone.
He thought of a broad sheet of paper, and he saw, rising on the paper, bare walls of gray limestone with long bands of glass, admitting the glow of the sky into the classrooms. In the corner of the sheet stood a sharp, angular signature—HOWARD ROARK.
“ ... ARCHITECTURE, MY FRIENDS, IS A GREAT ART BASED on two cosmic principles: Beauty and Utility. In a broader sense, these are but part of the three eternal entities: Truth, Love and Beauty. Truth—to the traditions of our Art, Love—for our fellow men whom we are to serve, Beauty—ah. Beauty is a compelling goddess to all artists, be it in the shape of a lovely woman or a building.... Hm.... Yes.... In conclusion, I should like to say to you, who are about to embark upon your careers in architecture, that you are now the custodians of a sacred heritage.... Hm.... Yes.... So, go forth into the world, armed with the three eternal enti—armed with courage and vision, loyal to the standards this great school has represented for many years. May you all serve faithfully, neither as slaves to the past nor as those parvenus who preach originality for its own sake, which attitude is only ignorant vanity. May you all have many rich, active years before you and leave, as you depart from this world, your mark on the sands of time!”
Guy Francon ended with a flourish, raising his right arm in a sweeping salute; informal, but with an air, that gay, swaggering air which Guy Francon could always permit himself. The huge hall before him came to life in applause and approval.
A sea of faces, young, perspiring and eager, had been raised solemnly -for forty-five minutes—to the platform where Guy Francon had held forth as the speaker at the commencement exercises of the Stanton Institute of Technology, Guy Francon who had brought his own person from New York for the occasion; Guy Francon, of the illustrious firm of Francon & Heyer, vice-president of the Architects’ Guild of America, member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters, member of the National Fine Arts Commission, Secretary of the Arts and Crafts League of New York, chairman of the Society for Architectural Enlightenment of the U.S.A.; Guy Francon, knight of the Legion of Honor of France, decorated by the governments of Great Britain, Belgium, Monaco and Siam; Guy Francon, Stanton’s greatest alumnus, who had designed the famous Frink National Bank Building of New York City, on the top of which, twenty-five floors above the pavements, there burned in a miniature replica of the Hadrian Mausoleum a wind-blown torch made of glass and the best General Electric bulbs.
Guy Francon descended from the platform, fully conscious of his timing and movements. He was of medium height and not too heavy, with just an unfortunate tendency to stoutness. Nobody, he knew, would give him his real age, which was fifty-one. His face bore not a wrinkle nor a single straight line; it was an artful composition in globes, circles, arcs and ellipses, with bright little eyes twinkling wittily. His clothes displayed an artist’s infinite attention to details. He wished, as he descended the steps, that this were a co-educational school.
The hall before him, he thought, was a splendid specimen of architecture, made a bit stuffy today by the crowd and by the neglected problem of ventilation. But it boasted green marble dados, Corinthian columns of cast iron painted gold, and garlands of gilded fruit on the walls; the pineapples particularly, thought Guy Francon, had stood the test of years very well. It is, thought Guy Francon, touching; it was I who built this annex and this very hall, twenty years ago; and here I am.
The hall was packed with bodies and faces, so tightly that one could not distinguish at a glance which faces belonged to which bodies. It was like a soft, shivering aspic made of mixed arms, shoulders, chests and stomachs. One of the heads, pale, dark haired and beautiful, belonged to Peter Keating.
He sat, well in front, trying to keep his eyes on the platform, because he knew that many people were looking at him and would look at him later. He did not glance back, but the consciousness of those centered glances never left him. His eyes were dark, alert, intelligent. His mouth, a small upturned crescent faultlessly traced, was gentle and generous, and warm with the faint promise of a smile. His head had a certain classical perfection in the shape of the skull, in the natural wave of black ringlets about finely hollowed temples. He held his head in the manner of one who takes his beauty for granted, but knows that others do not. He was Peter Keating, star student of Stanton, president of the student body, captain of the track team, member of the most important fraternity, voted the most popular man on the campus.
The crowd was there, thought Peter Keating, to see him graduate, and he tried to estimate the capacity of the hall. They knew of his scholastic record and no one would beat his record today. Oh, well, there was Shlinker. Shlinker had given him stiff competition, but he had beaten Shlinker this last year. He had worked like a dog, because he had wanted to beat Shlinker. He had no rivals today.... Then he felt suddenly as if something had fallen down, inside his throat, to his stomach, something cold and empty, a blank hole rolling down and leaving that feeling on its way: not a thought, just the hint of a question asking him whether he was really as great as this day would proclaim him to be. He looked for Shlinker in the crowd; he saw his yellow face and gold-rimmed glasses. He stared at Shlinker warmly, in relief, in reassurance, in gratitude. It was obvious that Shlinker could never hope to equal his own appearance or ability; he had nothing to doubt; he would always beat Shlinker and all the Shlinkers of the world; he would let no one achieve what he could not achieve. Let them all watch him. He would give them good reason to stare. He felt the hot breaths about him and the expectation, like a tonic. It was wonderful, thought Peter Keating, to be alive.
His head was beginning to reel a little. It was a pleasant feeling. The feeling carried him, unresisting and unremembering, to the platform in front of all those faces. He stood—slender, trim, athletic—and let the deluge break upon his head. He gathered from its roar that he had graduated with honors, that the Architects’ Guild of America had presented him with a gold medal and that he had been awarded the Prix de Paris by the Society for Architectural Enlightenment of the U.S.A.—a four-year scholarship at the Ecole des Beaux Arts in Paris.
Then he was shaking hands, scratching the perspiration off his face with the end of a rolled parchment, nodding, smiling, suffocating in his black gown and hoping that people would not notice his mother sobbing with her arms about him. The President of the Institute shook his hand, booming: “Stanton will be proud of you, my boy.” The Dean shook his hand, repeating: “... a glorious future ... a glorious future ... a glorious future ...” Professor Peterkin shook his hand, and patted his shoulder, saying: “... and you’ll find it absolutely essential; for example, I had the experience when I built the Peabody Post Office ...” Keating did not listen to the rest, because he had heard the story of the Peabody Post Office many times. It was the only structure anyone had ever known Professor Peterkin to have erected, before he sacrificed his practice to the responsibilities of teaching. A great deal was said about Keating’s final project—a Palace of Fine Arts. For the life of him, Keating could not remember at the moment what that project was.
Through all this, his eyes held the vision of Guy Francon shaking his hand, and his ears held the sounds of Francon’s mellow voice: “... as I have told you, it is still open, my boy. Of course, now that you have this scholarship ... you will have to decide ... a Beaux-Arts diploma is very important to a young man ... but I should be delighted to have you in our office....”
The banquet of the class of ’22 was long and solemn. Keating listened to the speeches with interest; when he heard the endless sentences about “young men as the hope of American Architecture” and “the future opening its golden gates,” he knew that he was the hope and his was the future, and it was pleasant to hear this confirmation from so many eminent lips. He looked at the gray-haired orators and thought of how much younger he would be when he reached their positions, theirs and beyond them.
Then he thought suddenly of Howard Roark. He was surprised to find that the flash of that name in his memory gave him a sharp little twinge of pleasure, before he could know why. Then he remembered: Howard Roark had been expelled this morning. He reproached himself silently; he made a determined effort to feel sorry. But the secret glow came back, whenever he thought of that expulsion. The event proved conclusively that he had been a fool to imagine Roark a dangerous rival; at one time, he had worried about Roark more than about Shlinker, even though Roark was two years younger and one class below him. If he had ever entertained any doubts on their respective gifts, hadn’t this day settled it all? And, he remembered, Roark had been very nice to him, helping him whenever he was stuck on a problem ... not stuck, really, just did not have the time to think it out, a plan or something. Christ! how Roark could untangle a plan, like pulling a string and it was open ... well, what if he could? What did it get him? He was done for now. And knowing this, Peter Keating experienced at last a satisfying pang of sympathy for Howard Roark.
When Keating was called upon to speak, he rose confidently. He could not show that he was terrified. He had nothing to say about architecture. But he spoke, his head high, as an equal among equals, just subtly diffident, so that no great name present could take offense. He remembered saying: “Architecture is a great art ... with our eyes to the future and the reverence of the past in our hearts ... of all the crafts, the most important one sociologically ... and, as the man who is an inspiration to us all has said today, the three eternal entities are: Truth, Love and Beauty....”
Then, in the corridors outside, in the noisy confusion of leave-taking, a boy had thrown an arm about Keating’s shoulders and whispered: “Run on home and get out of the soup-and-fish, Pete, and it’s Boston for us tonight, just our own gang; I’ll pick you up in an hour.” Ted Shlinker had urged: “Of course you’re coming, Pete. No fun without you. And, by the way, congratulations and all that sort of thing. No hard feelings. May the best man win.” Keating had thrown his arm about Shlinker’s shoulders; Keating’s eyes had glowed with an insistent kind of warmth, as if Shlinker were his most precious friend; Keating’s eyes glowed like that on everybody. He had said: “Thanks, Ted, old man. I really do feel awful about that A.G.A. medal—I think you were the one for it, but you never can tell what possesses those old fogies.” And now Keating was on his way home through the soft darkness, wondering how to get away from his mother for the night.
His mother, he thought, had done a great deal for him. As she pointed out frequently, she was a lady and had graduated from high school; yet she had worked hard, had taken boarders into their home, a concession unprecedented in her family.
His father had owned a stationery store in Stanton. Changing times had ended the business and a hernia had ended Peter Keating, Sr., twelve years ago. Louisa Keating had been left with the home that stood at the end of a respectable street, an annuity from an insurance kept up accurately—she had seen to that—and her son. The annuity was a modest one, but with the help of the boarders and of a tenacious purpose Mrs. Keating had managed. In the summers her son helped, clerking in hotels or posing for hat advertisements. Her son, Mrs. Keating had decided, would assume his rightful place in the world, and she had clung to this as softly, as inexorably as a leech.... It’s funny, Keating remembered, at one time he had wanted to be an artist. It was his mother who had chosen a better field in which to exercise his talent for drawing. “Architecture,” she had said, “is such a respectable profession. Besides, you meet the best people in it.” She had pushed him into his career, he had never known when or how. It’s funny, thought Keating, he had not remembered that youthful ambition of his for years. It’s funny that it should hurt him now—to remember. Well, this was the night to remember it—and to forget it forever.
Architects, he thought, always made brilliant careers. And once on top, did they ever fail? Suddenly, he recalled Henry Cameron; builder of skyscrapers twenty years ago; old drunkard with offices on some waterfront today. Keating shuddered and walked faster.
He wondered, as he walked, whether people were looking at him. He watched the rectangles of lighted windows; when a curtain fluttered and a head leaned out, he tried to guess whether it had leaned to watch his passing; if it hadn’t, some day it would; some day, they all would.
Howard Roark was sitting on the porch steps when Keating approached the house. He was leaning back against the steps, propped up on his elbows, his long legs stretched out. A morning-glory climbed over the porch pillars, as a curtain between the house and the light of a lamppost on the corner.
It was strange to see an electric globe in the air of a spring night. It made the street darker and softer; it hung alone, like a gap, and left nothing to be seen but a few branches heavy with leaves, standing still at the gap’s edges. The small hint became immense, as if the darkness held nothing but a flood of leaves. The mechanical ball of glass made the leaves seem more living; it took away their color and gave the promise that in daylight they would be a brighter green than had ever existed; it took away one’s sight and left a new sense instead, neither smell nor touch, yet both, a sense of spring and space.
Keating stopped when he recognized the preposterous orange hair in the darkness of the porch. It was the one person whom he had wanted to see tonight. He was glad to find Roark alone, and a little afraid of it.
“Congratulations, Peter,” said Roark.
“Oh ... Oh, thanks....” Keating was surprised to find that he felt more pleasure than from any other compliment he had received today. He was timidly glad that Roark approved, and he called himself inwardly a fool for it. “... I mean ... do you know or ...” He added sharply: “Has mother been telling you?”
“She shouldn’t have!”
“Look, Howard, you know that I’m terribly sorry about your being ...”
Roark threw his head back and looked up at him.
“Forget it,” said Roark.
“I ... there’s something I want to speak to you about, Howard, to ask your advice. Mind if I sit down?”
“What is it?”
Keating sat down on the steps beside him. There was no part that he could ever play in Roark’s presence. Besides, he did not feel like playing a part now. He heard a leaf rustling in its fall to the earth; it was a thin, glassy, spring sound.
He knew, for the moment, that he felt affection for Roark; an affection that held pain, astonishment and helplessness.
“You won’t think,” said Keating gently, in complete sincerity, “that it’s awful of me to be asking about my business, when you’ve just been ... ?”
“I said forget about that. What is it?”
“You know,” said Keating honestly and unexpectedly even to himself, “I’ve often thought that you’re crazy. But I know that you know many things about it—architecture, I mean—which those fools never knew. And I know that you love it as they never will.”
“Well, I don’t know why I should come to you, but—Howard, I’ve never said it before, but you see, I’d rather have your opinion on things than the Dean‘s—I’d probably follow the Dean’s, but it’s just that yours means more to me myself, I don’t know why. I don’t know why I’m saying this, either.”
Roark turned over on his side, looked at him, and laughed. It was a young, kind, friendly laughter, a thing so rare to hear from Roark that Keating felt as if someone had taken his hand in reassurance; and he forgot that he had a party in Boston waiting for him.
“Come on,” said Roark, “you’re not being afraid of me, are you? What do you want to ask about?”
“It’s about my scholarship. The Paris prize I got.”
“It’s for four years. But, on the other hand, Guy Francon offered me a job with him some time ago. Today he said it’s still open. And I don’t know which to take.”
Roark looked at him; Roark’s fingers moved in slow rotation, beating against the steps.
“If you want my advice, Peter,” he said at last, “you’ve made a mistake already. By asking me. By asking anyone. Never ask people. Not about your work. Don’t you know what you want? How can you stand it, not to know?”
“You see, that’s what I admire about you, Howard. You always know.”
“Drop the compliments.”
“But I mean it. How do you always manage to decide?”
“How can you let others decide for you?”
“But you see, I’m not sure, Howard. I’m never sure of myself. I don’t know whether I’m as good as they all tell me I am. I wouldn’t admit that to anyone but you. I think it’s because you’re always so sure that I ...”
“Petey!” Mrs. Keating’s voice exploded behind them. “Petey, sweetheart! What are you doing there?”
She stood in the doorway, in her best dress of burgundy taffeta, happy and angry.
“And here I’ve been sitting all alone, waiting for you! What on earth are you doing on those filthy steps in your dress suit? Get up this minute! Come on in the house, boys. I’ve got hot chocolate and cookies ready for you.”
“But, Mother, I wanted to speak to Howard about something important,” said Keating. But he rose to his feet.
She seemed not to have heard. She walked into the house. Keating followed.
Roark looked after them, shrugged, rose and went in also.
Mrs. Keating settled down in an armchair, her stiff skirt crackling.
“Well?” she asked. “What were you two discussing out there?”
Keating fingered an ash tray, picked up a matchbox and dropped it, then, ignoring her, turned to Roark.
“Look, Howard, drop the pose,” he said, his voice high. “Shall I junk the scholarship and go to work, or let Francon wait and grab the Beaux-Arts to impress the yokels? What do you think?”
Something was gone. The one moment was lost.
“Now, Petey, let me get this straight ...” began Mrs. Keating.
“Oh, wait a minute, Mother! ... Howard, I’ve got to weigh it carefully. It isn’t everyone who can get a scholarship like that. You’re pretty good when you rate that. A course at the Beaux Arts—you know how important that is.”
“I don’t,” said Roark.
“Oh, hell, I know your crazy ideas, but I’m speaking practically, for a man in my position. Ideals aside for a moment, it certainly is ...”
“You don’t want my advice,” said Roark.
“Of course I do! I’m asking you!”
But Keating could never be the same when he had an audience, any audience. Something was gone. He did not know it, but he felt that Roark knew; Roark’s eyes made him uncomfortable and that made him angry.
“I want to practice architecture,” snapped Keating, “not talk about it! Gives you a great prestige—the old Ecole. Puts you above the rank and file of the ex-plumbers who think they can build. On the other hand, an opening with Francon—Guy Francon himself offering it!”
Roark turned away.
“How many boys will match that?” Keating went on blindly. “A year from now they’ll be boasting they’re working for Smith or Jones if they find work at all. While I’ll be with Francon & Heyer!”
“You’re quite right, Peter,” said Mrs. Keating, rising. “On a question like that you don’t want to consult your mother. It’s too important. I’ll leave you to settle it with Mr. Roark.”
He looked at his mother. He did not want to hear what she thought of this; he knew that his only chance to decide was to make the decision before he heard her; she had stopped, looking at him, ready to turn and leave the room; he knew it was not a pose—she would leave if he wished it; he wanted her to go; he wanted it desperately. He said:
“Why, Mother, how can you say that? Of course I want your opinion. What ... what do you think?”
She ignored the raw irritation in his voice. She smiled.
“Petey, I never think anything. It’s up to you. It’s always been up to you.”
“Well ...” he began hesitantly, watching her, “if I go to the Beaux-Arts ...”
“Fine,” said Mrs. Keating, “go to the Beaux-Arts. It’s a grand place. A whole ocean away from your home. Of course, if you go, Mr. Francon will take somebody else. People will talk about that. Everybody knows that Mr. Francon picks out the best boy from Stanton every year for his office. I wonder how it’ll look if some other boy gets the job? But I guess that doesn’t matter.”
“What ... what will people say?”
“Nothing much, I guess. Only that the other boy was the best man of his class. I guess he’ll take Shlinker.”
“No!” he gulped furiously. “Not Shlinker!”
“Yes,” she said sweetly. “Shlinker.”
“But why should you care what people will say? All you have to do is please yourself.”
“And you think that Francon ...”
“Why should I think of Mr. Francon? It’s nothing to me.”
“Mother, you want me to take the job with Francon?”
“I don’t want anything, Petey. You’re the boss.”
He wondered whether he really liked his mother. But she was his mother and this fact was recognized by everybody as meaning automatically that he loved her, and so he took for granted that whatever he felt for her was love. He did not know whether there was any reason why he should respect her judgment. She was his mother; this was supposed to take the place of reasons.
“Yes, of course, Mother.... But ... Yes, I know, but ... Howard?”
It was a plea for help. Roark was there, on a davenport in the corner, half lying, sprawled limply like a kitten. It had often astonished Keating; he had seen Roark moving with the soundless tension, the control, the precision of a cat; he had seen him relaxed, like a cat, in shapeless ease, as if his body held no single solid bone. Roark glanced up at him. He said:
“Peter, you know how I feel about either one of your opportunities. Take your choice of the lesser evil. What will you learn at the Beaux-Arts? Only more Renaissance palaces and operetta settings. They’ll kill everything you might have in you. You do good work, once in a while, when somebody lets you. If you really want to learn, go to work. Francon is a bastard and a fool, but you will be building. It will prepare you for going on your own that much sooner.”
“Even Mr. Roark can talk sense sometimes,” said Mrs. Keating, “even if he does talk like a truck driver.”
“Do you really think that I do good work?” Keating looked at him, as if his eyes still held the reflection of that one sentence—and nothing else mattered.
“Occasionally,” said Roark. “Not often.”
“Now that it’s all settled ...” began Mrs. Keating.
“I ... I’ll have to think it over, Mother.”
“Now that it’s all settled, how about the hot chocolate? I’ll have it out to you in a jiffy!”
She smiled at her son, an innocent smile that declared her obedience and gratitude, and she rustled out of the room.
Keating paced nervously, stopped, lighted a cigarette, stood spitting the smoke out in short jerks, then looked at Roark.
“What are you going to do now, Howard?”
“Very thoughtless of me, I know, going on like that about myself. Mother means well, but she drives me crazy.... Well, to hell with that. What are you going to do?”
“I’m going to New York.”
“Oh, swell. To get a job?”
“To get a job.”
“In... in architecture?”
“In architecture, Peter.”
“That’s grand. I’m glad. Got any definite prospects?”
“I’m going to work for Henry Cameron.”
“Oh, no, Howard!”
Roark smiled slowly, the corners of his mouth sharp, and said nothing.
“Oh, no, Howard!”
“But he’s nothing, nobody any more! Oh, I know he has a name, but he’s done for! He never gets any important buildings, hasn’t had any for years! They say he’s got a dump for an office. What kind of future will you get out of him? What will you learn?”
“Not much. Only how to build.”
“For God’s sake, you can’t go on like that, deliberately ruining yourself! I thought ... well, yes, I thought you’d learned something today!”
“Look, Howard, if it’s because you think that no one else will have you now, no one better, why, I’ll help you. I’ll work old Francon and I’ll get connections and...”
“Thank you, Peter. But it won’t be necessary. It’s settled.”
“What did he say?”
“I’ve never met him.”
Then a horn screamed outside. Keating remembered, started off to change his clothes, collided with his mother at the door and knocked a cup off her loaded tray.
“Never mind, Mother!” He seized her elbows. “I’m in a hurry, sweetheart. A little party with the boys—now, now, don’t say anything—I won’t be late and—look! We’ll celebrate my going with Francon & Heyer!”
He kissed her impulsively, with the gay exuberance that made him irresistible at times, and flew out of the room, up the stairs. Mrs. Keating shook her head, flustered, reproving and happy.
In his room, while flinging his clothes in all directions, Keating thought suddenly of a wire he would send to New York. That particular subject had not been in his mind all day, but it came to him with a sense of desperate urgency; he wanted to send that wire now, at once. He scribbled it down on a piece of paper:
“Katie dearest coming New York job Francon love ever “Peter”
That night Keating raced toward Boston, wedged in between two boys, the wind and the road whistling past him. And he thought that the world was opening to him now, like the darkness fleeing before the bobbing headlights. He was free. He was ready. In a few years—so very soon, for time did not exist in the speed of that car—his name would ring like a horn, ripping people out of sleep. He was ready to do great things, magnificent things, things unsurpassed in ... in ... oh, hell ... in architecture.
PETER KEATING LOOKED AT THE STREETS OF NEW YORK. THE people, he observed, were extremely well dressed.
He had stopped for a moment before the building on Fifth Avenue, where the office of Francon & Heyer and his first day of work awaited him. He looked at the men who hurried past. Smart, he thought, smart as hell. He glanced regretfully at his own clothes. He had a great deal to learn in New York.
When he could delay it no longer, he turned to the door. It was a miniature Doric portico, every inch of it scaled down to the exact proportions decreed by the artists who had worn flowing Grecian tunics; between the marble perfection of the columns a revolving door sparkled with nickel-plate, reflecting the streaks of automobiles flying past. Keating walked through the revolving door, through the lustrous marble lobby, to an elevator of gilt and red lacquer that brought him, thirty floors later, to a mahogany door. He saw a slender brass plate with delicate letters:
FRANCON & HEYER, ARCHITECTS.
The reception room of the office of Francon & Heyer, Architects, looked like a cool, intimate ballroom in a Colonial mansion. The silver white walls were paneled with flat pilasters; the pilasters were fluted and curved into Ionic snails; they supported little pediments broken in the middle to make room for half a Grecian urn plastered against the wall. Etchings of Greek temples adorned the panels, too small to be distinguished, but presenting the unmistakable columns, pediments and crumbling stone.
Quite incongruously, Keating felt as if a conveyer belt was under his feet, from the moment he crossed the threshold. It carried him to the reception clerk who sat at a telephone switchboard behind the white balustrade of a Florentine balcony. It transferred him to the threshold of a huge drafting room. He saw long, flat tables, a forest of twisted rods descending from the ceiling to end in green-shaded lamps, enormous blueprint files, towers of yellow drawers, papers, tin boxes, sample bricks, pots of glue and calendars from construction companies, most of them bearing pictures of naked women. The chief draftsman snapped at Keating, without quite seeing him. He was bored and crackling with purpose simultaneously. He jerked his thumb in the direction of a locker room, thrust his chin out toward the door of a locker, and stood, rocking from heels to toes, while Keating pulled a pearl-gray smock over his stiff, uncertain body. Francon had insisted on that smock. The conveyor belt stopped at a table in a corner of the drafting room, where Keating found himself with a set of plans to expand, the scraggy back of the chief draftsman retreating from him in the unmistakable manner of having forgotten his existence.
Keating bent over his task at once, his eyes fixed, his throat rigid. He saw nothing but the pearly shimmer of the paper before him. The steady lines he drew surprised him, for he felt certain that his hand was jerking an inch back and forth across the sheet. He followed the lines, not knowing where they led or why. He knew only that the plan was someone’s tremendous achievement which he could neither question nor equal. He wondered why he had ever thought of himself as a potential architect.
Much later, he noticed the wrinkles of a gray smock sticking to a pair of shoulder blades over the next table. He glanced about him, cautiously at first, then with curiosity, then with pleasure, then with contempt. When he reached this last, Peter Keating became himself again and felt love for mankind. He noticed sallow cheeks, a funny nose, a wart on a receding chin, a stomach squashed against the edge of a table. He loved these sights. What these could do, he could do better. He smiled. Peter Keating needed his fellow men.
When he glanced at his plans again, he noticed the flaws glaring at him from the masterpiece. It was the floor of a private residence, and he noted the twisted hallways that sliced great hunks of space for no apparent reason, the long, rectangular sausages of rooms doomed to darkness. Jesus, he thought, they’d have flunked me for this in the first term. After which, he proceeded with his work swiftly, easily, expertly—and happily.
Before lunchtime, Keating had made friends in the room, not any definite friends, but a vague soil spread and ready from which friendships would spring. He had smiled at his neighbors and winked in understanding over nothing at all. He had used each trip to the water cooler to caress those he passed with the soft, cheering glow of his eyes, the brilliant eyes that seemed to pick each man in turn out of the room, out of the universe, as the most important specimen of humanity and as Keating’s dearest friend. There goes—there seemed to be left in his wake—a smart boy and a hell of a good fellow.
Keating noticed that a tall blond youth at the next table was doing the elevation of an office building. Keating leaned with chummy respect against the boy’s shoulder and looked at the laurel garlands entwined about fluted columns three floors high.
“Pretty good for the old man,” said Keating with admiration.
“Who?” asked the boy.
“Why, Francon,” said Keating.
“Francon hell,” said the boy placidly. “He hasn’t designed a dog-house in eight years.” He jerked his thumb over his shoulder, at a glass door behind them. “Him.”
“What?” asked Keating, turning.
“Him,” said the boy. “Stengel. He does all these things.”
Behind the glass door Keating saw a pair of bony shoulders above the edge of a desk, a small, triangular head bent intently, and two blank pools of light in the round frames of glasses.
It was late in the afternoon when a presence seemed to have passed beyond the closed door, and Keating learned from the rustle of whispers around him that Guy Francon had arrived and had risen to his office on the floor above. Half an hour later the glass door opened and Stengel came out, a huge piece of cardboard dangling between his fingers.
“Hey, you,” he said, his glasses stopping on Keating’s face. “You doing the plans for this?” He swung the cardboard forward. “Take this up to the boss for the okay. Try to listen to what he’ll say and try to look intelligent. Neither of which matters anyway.”
He was short and his arms seemed to hang down to his ankles; arms swinging like ropes in the long sleeves, with big, efficient hands. Keating’s eyes froze, darkening, for one-tenth of a second, gathered in a tight stare at the blank lenses. Then Keating smiled and said pleasantly:
He carried the cardboard on the tips of his ten fingers, up the crimson-plushed stairway to Guy Francon’s office. The cardboard displayed a water-color perspective of a gray granite mansion with three tiers of dormers, five balconies, four bays, twelve columns, one flagpole and two lions at the entrance. In the corner, neatly printed by hand, stood: “Residence of Mr. and Mrs. James S. Whattles. Francon & Heyer, Architects.” Keating whistled softly: James S. Whattles was the multimillionaire manufacturer of shaving lotions.
Guy Francon’s office was polished. No, thought Keating, not polished, but shellacked; no, not shellacked, but liquid with mirrors melted and poured over every object. He saw splinters of his own reflection let loose like a swarm of butterflies, following him across the room, on the Chippendale cabinets, on the Jacobean chairs, on the Louis XV mantelpiece. He had time to note a genuine Roman statue in a corner, sepia photographs of the Parthenon, of Rheims Cathedral, of Versailles and of the Frink National Bank Building with the eternal torch.
He saw his own legs approaching him in the side of the massive mahogany desk. Guy Francon sat behind the desk. Guy Francon’s face was yellow and his cheeks sagged. He looked at Keating for an instant as if he had never seen him before, then remembered and smiled expansively.
“Well, well, well, Kittredge, my boy, here we are, all set and at home! So glad to see you. Sit down, boy, sit down, what have you got there? Well, there’s no hurry, no hurry at all. Sit down. How do you like it here?”
“I’m afraid, sir, that I’m a little too happy,” said Keating, with an expression of frank, boyish helplessness. “I thought I could be business-like on my first job, but starting in a place like this ... I guess it knocked me out a little.... I’ll get over it, sir,” he promised.
“Of course,” said Guy Francon. “It might be a bit overwhelming for a boy, just a bit. But don’t you worry. I’m sure you’ll make good.”
“I’ll do my best, sir.”
“Of course you will. What’s this they sent me?” Francon extended his hand to the drawing, but his fingers came to rest limply on his forehead instead. “It’s so annoying, this headache.... No, no, nothing serious—” he smiled at Keating’s prompt concern—“just a little mal de tête. One works so hard.”
“Is there anything I can get for you, sir?”
“No, no, thank you. It’s not anything you can get for me, it’s if only you could take something away from me.” He winked. “The champagne. Entre nous, that champagne of theirs wasn’t worth a damn last night. I’ve never cared for champagne anyway. Let me tell you, Kittredge, it’s very important to know about wines, for instance when you’ll take a client out to dinner and will want to be sure of the proper thing to order. Now I’ll tell you a professional secret. Take quail, for instance. Now most people would order Burgundy with it. What do you do? You call for Clos Vougeot 1904. See? Adds that certain touch. Correct, but original. One must always be original.... Who sent you up, by the way?”
“Mr. Stengel, sir.”
“Oh, Stengel.” The tone in which he pronounced the name clicked like a shutter in Keating’s mind: it was a permission to be stored away for future use. “Too grand to bring his own stuff up, eh? Mind you, he’s a great designer, the best designer in New York City, but he’s just getting to be a bit too grand lately. He thinks he’s the only one doing any work around here, just because I give him ideas and let him work them out for me. Just because he smudges at a board all day long. You’ll learn, my boy, when you’ve been in the business longer, that the real work of an office is done beyond its walls. Take last night, for instance. Banquet of the Clarion Real Estate Association. Two hundred guests—dinner and champagne—oh, yes, champagne!” He wrinkled his nose fastidiously, in self-mockery. “A few words to say informally in a little after-dinner speech—you know, nothing blatant, no vulgar sales talk—only a few well-chosen thoughts on the responsibility of realtors to society, on the importance of selecting architects who are competent, respected and well established. You know, a few bright little slogans that will stick in the mind.”
“Yes, sir, like ‘Choose the builder of your home as carefully as you choose the bride to inhabit it.’ ”
“Not bad. Not bad at all, Kittredge. Mind if I jot it down?”
“My name is Keating, sir,” said Keating firmly. “You are very welcome to the idea. I’m very happy if it appeals to you.”
“Keating, of course! Why, of course, Keating,” said Francon with a disarming smile. “Dear me, one meets so many people. How did you say it? Choose the builder ... It was very well put.”
He made Keating repeat it and wrote it down on a pad, picking a pencil from an array before him, new, many-colored pencils, sharpened to a professional needle point, ready, unused.
Then he pushed the pad aside, sighed, patted the smooth waves of his hair and said wearily:
“Well, all right, I suppose I’ll have to look at the thing.”
Keating extended the drawing respectfully. Francon leaned back, held the cardboard out at arm’s length and looked at it. He closed his left eye, then his right eye, then moved the cardboard an inch farther. Keating expected wildly to see him turn the drawing upside down. But Francon just held it and Keating knew suddenly that he had long since stopped seeing it. Francon was studying it for his, Keating’s benefit; and then Keating felt light, light as air, and he saw the road to his future, clear and open.
“Hm ... yes,” Francon was saying, rubbing his chin with the tips of two soft fingers. “Hm ... yes ...”
He turned to Keating.
“Not bad,” said Francon. “Not bad at all.... Well ... perhaps ... it could have been more distinguished, you know, but ... well, the drawing is done so neatly.... What do you think, Keating?”
Keating thought that four of the windows faced four mammoth granite columns. But he looked at Francon’s fingers playing with a petunia-mauve necktie, and decided not to mention it. He said instead:
“If I may make a suggestion, sir, it seems to me that the cartouches between the fourth and fifth floors are somewhat too modest for so imposing a building. It would appear that an ornamented stringcourse would be so much more appropriate.”
“That’s it. I was just going to say it. An ornamented stringcourse.... But ... but look, it would mean diminishing the fenestration, wouldn’t it?”
“Yes,” said Keating, a faint coating of diffidence over the tone he had used in discussions with his classmates, “but windows are less important than the dignity of a building’s façade.”
“That’s right. Dignity. We must give our clients dignity above all. Yes, definitely, an ornamented stringcourse.... Only ... look, I’ve approved the preliminary drawings, and Stengel has had this done up so neatly.”
“Mr. Stengel will be delighted to change it if you advise him to.”
Francon’s eyes held Keating’s for a moment. Then Francon’s lashes dropped and he picked a piece of lint off his sleeve.
“Of course, of course ...” he said vaguely. “But ... do you think the stringcourse is really important?”
“I think,” said Keating slowly, “it is more important to make changes you find necessary than to okay every drawing just as Mr. Stengel designed it.”
Because Francon said nothing, but only looked straight at him, because Francon’s eyes were focused and his hands limp, Keating knew that he had taken a terrible chance and won; he became frightened by the chance after he knew he had won.
They looked silently across the desk, and both saw that they were two men who could understand each other.
“We’ll have an ornamented stringcourse,” said Francon with calm, genuine authority. “Leave this here. Tell Stengel that I want to see him.”
He had turned to go. Francon stopped him. Francon’s voice was gay and warm:
“Oh, Keating, by the way, may I make a suggestion? Just between us, no offense intended, but a burgundy necktie would be so much better than blue with your gray smock, don’t you think so?”
“Yes, sir,” said Keating easily. “Thank you. You’ll see it tomorrow.”
He walked out and closed the door softly.
On his way back through the reception room, Keating saw a distinguished, gray-haired gentleman escorting a lady to the door. The gentleman wore no hat and obviously belonged to the office; the lady wore a mink cape, and was obviously a client.
The gentleman was not bowing to the ground, he was not unrolling a carpet, he was not waving a fan over her head; he was only holding the door for her. It merely seemed to Keating that the gentleman was doing all of that.
The Frink National Bank Building rose over Lower Manhattan, and its long shadow moved, as the sun traveled over the sky, like a huge clock hand across grimy tenements, from the Aquarium to Manhattan Bridge. When the sun was gone, the torch of Hadrian’s Mausoleum flared up in its stead, and made glowing red smears on the glass of windows for miles around, on the top stories of buildings high enough to reflect it. The Frink National Bank Building displayed the entire history of Roman art in well-chosen specimens; for a long time it had been considered the best building of the city, because no other structure could boast a single Classical item which it did not possess. It offered so many columns, pediments, friezes, tripods, gladiators, urns and volutes that it looked as if it had not been built of white marble, but squeezed out of a pastry tube. It was, however, built of white marble. No one knew that but the owners who had paid for it. It was now of a streaked, blotched, leprous color, neither brown nor green but the worst tones of both, the color of slow rot, the color of smoke, gas fumes and acids eating into a delicate stone intended for clean air and open country. The Frink National Bank Building, however, was a great success. It had been so great a success that it was the last structure Guy Francon ever designed; its prestige spared him the bother from then on.
Three blocks east of the Frink National Bank stood the Dana Building. It was some stories lower and without any prestige whatever. Its lines were hard and simple, revealing, emphasizing the harmony of the steel skeleton within, as a body reveals the perfection of its bones. It had no other ornament to offer. It displayed nothing but the precision of its sharp angles, the modeling of its planes, the long streaks of its windows like streams of ice running down from the roof to the pavements. New Yorkers seldom looked at the Dana Building. Sometimes, a rare country visitor would come upon it unexpectedly in the moonlight and stop and wonder from what dream that vision had come. But such visitors were rare. The tenants of the Dana Building said that they would not exchange it for any structure on earth; they appreciated the light, the air, the beautiful logic of the plan in their halls and offices. But the tenants of the Dana Building were not numerous; no prominent man wished his business to be located in a building that looked “like a warehouse.”
The Dana Building had been designed by Henry Cameron.
In the eighteen-eighties, the architects of New York fought one another for second place in their profession. No one aspired to the first. The first was held by Henry Cameron. Henry Cameron was hard to get in those days. He had a waiting list two years in advance; he designed personally every structure that left his office. He chose what he wished to build. When he built, a client kept his mouth shut. He demanded of all people the one thing he had never granted anybody: obedience. He went through the years of his fame like a projectile flying to a goal no one could guess. People called him crazy. But they took what he gave them, whether they understood it or not, because it was a building “by Henry Cameron.”
At first, his buildings were merely a little different, not enough to frighten anyone. He made startling experiments, once in a while, but people expected it and one did not argue with Henry Cameron. Something was growing in him with each new building, struggling, taking shape, rising dangerously to an explosion. The explosion came with the birth of the skyscraper. When structures began to rise not in tier on ponderous tier of masonry, but as arrows of steel shooting upward without weight or limit, Henry Cameron was among the first to understand this new miracle and to give it form. He was among the first and the few who accepted the truth that a tall building must look tall. While architects cursed, wondering how to make a twenty-story building look like an old brick mansion, while they used every horizontal device available in order to cheat it of its height, shrink it down to tradition, hide the shame of its steel, make it small, safe and ancient—Henry Cameron designed skyscrapers in straight, vertical lines, flaunting their steel and height. While architects drew friezes and pediments, Henry Cameron decided that the skyscraper must not copy the Greeks. Henry Cameron decided that no building must copy any other.
He was thirty-nine years old then, short, stocky, unkempt; he worked like a dog, missed his sleep and meals, drank seldom but then brutally, called his clients unprintable names, laughed at hatred and fanned it deliberately, behaved like a feudal lord and a longshoreman, and lived in a passionate tension that stung men in any room he entered, a fire neither they nor he could endure much longer. It was the year 1892.
The Columbian Exposition of Chicago opened in the year 1893.
The Rome of two thousand years ago rose on the shores of Lake Michigan, a Rome improved by pieces of France, Spain, Athens and every style that followed it. It was a “Dream City” of columns, triumphal arches, blue lagoons, crystal fountains and popcorn. Its architects competed on who could steal best, from the oldest source and from the most sources at once. It spread before the eyes of a new country every structural crime ever committed in all the old ones. It was white as a plague, and it spread as such.
People came, looked, were astounded, and carried away with them, to the cities of America, the seeds of what they had seen. The seeds sprouted into weeds; into shingled post offices with Doric porticos, brick mansions with iron pediments, lofts made of twelve Parthenons piled on top of one another. The weeds grew and choked everything else.
Henry Cameron had refused to work for the Columbian Exposition, and had called it names that were unprintable, but repeatable, though not in mixed company. They were repeated. It was repeated also that he had thrown an inkstand at the face of a distinguished banker who had asked him to design a railroad station in the shape of the temple of Diana at Ephesus. The banker never came back. There were others who never came back.
Just as he reached the goal of long, struggling years, just as he gave shape to the truth he had sought—the last barrier fell closed before him. A young country had watched him on his way, had wondered, had begun to accept the new grandeur of his work. A country flung two thousand years back in an orgy of Classicism could find no place for him and no use.
It was not necessary to design buildings any longer, only to photograph them; the architect with the best library was the best architect. Imitators copied imitations. To sanction it there was Culture; there were twenty centuries unrolling in moldering ruins; there was the great Exposition ; there was every European post card in every family album.
Henry Cameron had nothing to offer against this; nothing but a faith he held merely because it was his own. He had nobody to quote and nothing of importance to say. He said only that the form of a building must follow its function; that the structure of a building is the key to its beauty; that new methods of construction demand new forms; that he wished to build as he wished and for that reason only. But people could not listen to him when they were discussing Vitruvius, Michelangelo and Sir Christopher Wren.
Men hate passion, any great passion. Henry Cameron made a mistake : he loved his work. That was why he fought. That was why he lost.
People said he never knew that he had lost. If he did, he never let them see it. As his clients became rarer, his manner to them grew more overbearing. The less the prestige of his name, the more arrogant the sound of his voice pronouncing it. He had had an astute business manager, a mild, self-effacing little man of iron who, in the days of his glory, faced quietly the storms of Cameron’s temper and brought him clients; Cameron insulted the clients, but the little man made them accept it and come back. The little man died.
Cameron had never known how to face people. They did not matter to him, as his own life did not matter, as nothing mattered but buildings. He had never learned to give explanations, only orders. He had never been liked. He had been feared. No one feared him any longer.
He was allowed to live. He lived to loathe the streets of the city he had dreamed of rebuilding. He lived to sit at the desk in his empty office, motionless, idle, waiting. He lived to read in a well-meaning newspaper account a reference to “the late Henry Cameron.” He lived to begin drinking, quietly, steadily, terribly, for days and nights at a time; and to hear those who had driven him to it say, when his name was mentioned for a commission: “Cameron? I should say not. He drinks like a fish. That’s why he never gets any work.” He lived to move from the offices that occupied three floors of a famous building to one floor on a less expensive street, then to a suite farther downtown, then to three rooms facing an air shaft, near the Battery. He chose these rooms because, by pressing his face to the window of his office, he could see, over a brick wall, the top of the Dana Building.
Howard Roark looked at the Dana Building beyond the windows, stopping at each landing, as he mounted the six flights of stairs to Henry Cameron’s office; the elevator was out of order. The stairs had been painted a dirty file-green a long time ago; a little of the paint remained to grate under shoe soles in crumbling patches. Roark went up swiftly, as if he had an appointment, a folder of his drawings under his arm, his eyes on the Dana Building. He collided once with a man descending the stairs; this had happened to him often in the last two days; he had walked through the streets of the city, his head thrown back, noticing nothing but the buildings of New York.
In the dark cubbyhole of Cameron’s anteroom stood a desk with a telephone and a typewriter. A gray-haired skeleton of a man sat at the desk, in his shirt sleeves, with a pair of limp suspenders over his shoulders. He was typing specifications intently, with two fingers and incredible speed. The light from a feeble bulb made a pool of yellow on his back, where the damp shirt stuck to his shoulder blades.
The man raised his head slowly, when Roark entered. He looked at Roark, said nothing and waited, his old eyes weary, unquestioning, incurious.
“I should like to see Mr. Cameron,” said Roark.
“Yeah?” said the man, without challenge, offense or meaning. “About what?”
“About a job.”
The man sat looking at him blankly. It was a request that had not confronted him for a long time. He rose at last, without a word, shuffled to a door behind him and went in.
He left the door half open. Roark heard him drawling:
“Mr. Cameron, there’s a fellow outside says he’s looking for a job here.”
Then a voice answered, a strong, clear voice that held no tones of age:
“Why, the damn fool! Throw him out ... Wait! Send him in!”
The old man returned, held the door open and jerked his head at it silently. Roark went in. The door closed behind him.
Henry Cameron sat at his desk at the end of a long, bare room. He sat bent forward, his forearms on the desk, his two hands closed before him. His hair and his beard were coal black, with coarse threads of white. The muscles of his short, thick neck bulged like ropes. He wore a white shirt with the sleeves rolled above the elbows; the bare arms were hard, heavy and brown. The flesh of his broad face was rigid, as if it had aged by compression. The eyes were dark, young, living.
Roark stood on the threshold and they looked at each other across the long room.
The light from the air shaft was gray, and the dust on the drafting table, on the few green files, looked like fuzzy crystals deposited by the light. But on the wall, between the windows, Roark saw a picture. It was the only picture in the room. It was the drawing of a skyscraper that had never been erected.
Roark’s eyes moved first and they moved to the drawing. He walked across the office, stopped before it and stood looking at it. Cameron’s eyes followed him, a heavy glance, like a long, thin needle held fast at one end, describing a slow circle, its point piercing Roark’s body, keeping it pinned firmly. Cameron looked at the orange hair, at the hand hanging by his side, its palm to the drawing, the fingers bent slightly, forgotten not in a gesture but in the overture to a gesture of asking or seizing something.
“Well?” said Cameron at last. “Did you come to see me or did you come to look at pictures?”
Roark turned to him.
“Both,” said Roark.
He walked to the desk. People had always lost their sense of existence in Roark’s presence; but Cameron felt suddenly that he had never been as real as in the awareness of the eyes now looking at him.
“What do you want?” snapped Cameron.
“I should like to work for you,” said Roark quietly. The voice said: “I should like to work for you.” The tone of the voice said: “I’m going to work for you.”
“Are you?” said Cameron, not realizing that he answered the unpronounced sentence. “What’s the matter? None of the bigger and better fellows will have you?”
“I have not applied to anyone else.”
“Why not? Do you think this is the easiest place to begin? Think anybody can walk in here without trouble? Do you know who I am?”
“Yes. That’s why I’m here.”
“Who sent you?”
“Why the hell should you pick me?”
“I think you know that.”
“What infernal impudence made you presume that I’d want you? Have you decided that I’m so hard up that I’d throw the gates open for any punk who’d do me the honor? ‘Old Cameron,’ you’ve said to yourself, ‘is a has-been, a drunken ...’ Come on, you’ve said it! ... ‘a drunken failure who can’t be particular!’ Is that it? ... Come on, answer me! Answer me, damn you! What are you staring at? Is that it? Go on! Deny it!”
“It’s not necessary.”
“Where have you worked before?”
“I’m just beginning.”
“What have you done?”
“I’ve had three years at Stanton.”
“Oh? The gentleman was too lazy to finish?”
“I have been expelled.”
“Great!” Cameron slapped the desk with his fist and laughed. “Splendid! You’re not good enough for the lice nest at Stanton, but you’ll work for Henry Cameron! You’ve decided this is the place for refuse! What did they kick you out for? Drink? Women? What?”
“These,” said Roark, and extended his drawings.
Cameron looked at the first one, then at the next, then at every one of them to the bottom. Roark heard the paper rustling as Cameron slipped one sheet behind another. Then Cameron raised his head.
Roark obeyed. Cameron stared at him, his thick fingers drumming against the pile of drawings.
“So you think they’re good?” said Cameron. “Well, they’re awful. It’s unspeakable. It’s a crime. Look,” he shoved a drawing at Roark’s face, “look at that. What in Christ’s name was your idea? What possessed you to indent that plan here? Did you just want to make it pretty, because you had to patch something together? Who do you think you are? Guy Francon, God help you? ... Look at this building, you fool! You get an idea like this and you don’t know what to do with it! You stumble on a magnificent thing and you have to ruin it! Do you know how much you’ve got to learn?”
“Yes. That’s why I’m here.”
“And look at that one! I wish I’d done that at your age! But why did you have to botch it? Do you know what I’d do with that? Look, to hell with your stairways and to hell with your furnace room! When you lay the foundations ...”
He spoke furiously for a long time. He cursed. He did not find one sketch to satisfy him. But Roark noticed that he spoke as of buildings that were in construction.
He broke off abruptly, pushed the drawings aside, and put his fist over them. He asked:
“When did you decide to become an architect?”
“When I was ten years old.”
“Men don’t know what they want so early in life, if ever. You’re lying.”
“Don’t stare at me like that! Can’t you look at something else? Why did you decide to be an architect?”
“I didn’t know it then. But it’s because I’ve never believed in God.”
“Come on, talk sense.”
“Because I love this earth. That’s all I love. I don’t like the shape of things on this earth. I want to change them.”
“How old are you?”
“Where did you hear all that?”
“Men don’t talk like that at twenty-two. You’re abnormal.”
“I didn’t mean it as a compliment.”
“I didn’t either.”
“Got any family?”
“Worked through school?”
“In the building trades.”
“How much money have you got left?”
“Seventeen dollars and thirty cents.”
“When did you come to New York?”
Cameron looked at the white pile under his fist.
“God damn you,” said Cameron softly.
“God damn you!” roared Cameron suddenly, leaning forward. “I didn’t ask you to come here! I don’t need any draftsmen! There’s nothing here to draft! I don’t have enough work to keep myself and my men out of the Bowery Mission! I don’t want any fool visionaries starving around here! I don’t want the responsibility. I didn’t ask for it. I never thought I’d see it again. I’m through with it. I was through with that many years ago. I’m perfectly happy with the drooling dolts I’ve got here, who never had anything and never will have and it makes no difference what becomes of them. That’s all I want. Why did you have to come here? You’re setting out to ruin yourself, you know that, don’t you? And I’ll help you to do it. I don’t want to see you. I don’t like you. I don’t like your face. You look like an insufferable egotist. You’re impertinent. You’re too sure of yourself. Twenty years ago I’d have punched your face with the greatest of pleasure. You’re coming to work here tomorrow at nine o’clock sharp.”
“Yes,” said Roark, rising.
“Fifteen dollars a week. That’s all I can pay you.”
“You’re a damn fool. You should have gone to someone else. I’ll kill you if you go to anyone else. What’s your name?”
“If you’re late, I’ll fire you.”
Roark extended his hand for the drawings.
“Leave these here!” bellowed Cameron. “Now get out!”
“TOOHEY,” SAID GUY FRANCON, “ELLSWORTH TOOHEY. PRETTY decent of him, don’t you think? Read it, Peter.”
Francon leaned jovially across his desk and handed to Keating the August issue of New Frontiers. New Frontiers had a white cover with a black emblem that combined a palette, a lyre, a hammer, a screw driver and a rising sun; it had a circulation of thirty thousand and a following that described itself as the intellectual vanguard of the country; no one had ever risen to challenge the description. Keating read from an article entitled “Marble and Mortar,” by Ellsworth M. Toohey:
“... And now we come to another notable achievement of the metropolitan skyline. We call the attention of the discriminating to the new Melton Building by Francon & Heyer. It stands in white serenity as an eloquent witness to the triumph of Classical purity and common sense. The discipline of an immortal tradition has served here as a cohesive factor in evolving a structure whose beauty can reach, simply and lucidly, the heart of every man in the street. There is no freak exhibitionism here, no perverted striving for novelty, no orgy of unbridled egotism. Guy Francon, its designer, has known how to subordinate himself to the mandatory canons which generations of craftsmen behind him have proved inviolate, and at the same time how to display his own creative originality, not in spite of, but precisely because of the classical dogma he has accepted with the humility of a true artist. It may be worth mentioning, in passing, that dogmatic discipline is the only thing which makes true originality possible....
“More important, however, is the symbolic significance of a building such as this rising in our imperial city. As one stands before its southern façade, one is stricken with the realization that the stringcourses, repeated with deliberate and gracious monotony from the third to the eighteenth story, these long, straight, horizontal lines are the moderating, leveling principle, the lines of equality. They seem to bring the towering structure down to the humble level of the observer. They are the lines of the earth, of the people, of the great masses. They seem to tell us that none may rise too high above the restraint of the common human level, that all is held and shall be checked, even as this proud edifice, by the stringcourses of men’s brotherhood....”
There was more. Keating read it all, then raised his head. “Gee!” he said, awed.
Francon smiled happily.
“Pretty good, eh? And from Toohey, no less. Not many people might have heard the name, but they will, mark my word, they will. I know the signs.... So he doesn’t think I’m so bad? And he’s got a tongue like an icepick, when he feels like using it. You should see what he says about others, more often than not. You know Durkin’s latest mousetrap? Well, I was at a party where Toohey said—” Francon chuckled—“he said: ‘If Mr. Durkin suffers under the delusion that he is an architect, someone should mention to him the broad opportunities offered by the shortage of skilled plumbers.’ That’s what he said, imagine, in public!”
“I wonder,” said Keating wistfully, “what he’ll say about me, when the time comes.”
“What on earth does he mean by that symbolic significance stuff and the stringcourses of men’s brotherhood? ... Oh, well, if that’s what he praises us for, we should worry!”
“It’s the critic’s job to interpret the artist, Mr. Francon, even to the artist himself. Mr. Toohey has merely stated the hidden significance that was subconsciously in your own mind.”
“Oh,” said Francon vaguely. “Oh, do you think so?” he added brightly. “Quite possible.... Yes, quite possible.... You’re a smart boy, Peter.”
“Thank you, Mr. Francon,” Keating made a movement to rise.
“Wait. Don’t go. One more cigarette and then we’ll both return to the drudgery.”
Francon was smiling over the article, reading it again. Keating had never seen him so pleased; no drawing in the office, no work accomplished had ever made him as happy as these words from another man on a printed page to be read by other eyes.
Keating sat easily in a comfortable chair. His month with the firm had been well spent. He had said nothing and done nothing, but the impression had spread through the office that Guy Francon liked to see this particular boy sent to him whenever anyone had to be sent. Hardly a day passed without the pleasant interlude of sitting across the desk from Guy Francon, in a respectful, growing intimacy, listening to Francon’s sighs about the necessity of being surrounded by men who understood him.
Keating had learned all he could learn about Guy Francon, from his fellow draftsmen. He had learned that Guy Francon ate moderately and exquisitely, and prided himself on the title of gourmet; that he had graduated with distinction from the Ecole des Beaux Arts; that he had married a great deal of money and that the marriage had not been a happy one; that he matched meticulously his socks with his handkerchiefs, but never with his neckties; that he had a great preference for designing buildings of gray granite; that he owned a quarry of gray granite in Connecticut, which did a thriving business; that he maintained a magnificent bachelor apartment done in plum-colored Louis XV; that his wife, of a distinguished old name, had died, leaving her fortune to their only daughter; that the daughter, now nineteen, was away at college.
These last facts interested Keating a great deal. He mentioned to Francon, tentatively, in passing, the subject of his daughter. “Oh, yes ...” Francon said thinly. “Yes, indeed ...” Keating abandoned all further research into the matter, for the time being; Francon’s face had declared that the thought of his daughter was painfully annoying to him, for some reason which Keating could not discover.
Keating had met Lucius N. Heyer, Francon’s partner, and had seen him come to the office twice in three weeks, but had been unable to learn what service Heyer rendered to the firm. Heyer did not have haemophilia, but looked as though he should have it. He was a withered aristocrat, with a long, thin neck, pale, bulging eyes and a manner of frightened sweetness toward everyone. He was the relic of an ancient family, and it was suspected that Francon had taken him into partnership for the sake of his social connections. People felt sorry for poor dear Lucius, admired him for the effort of undertaking a professional career, and thought it would be nice to let him build their homes. Francon built them and required no further service from Lucius. This satisfied everybody.
The men in the drafting rooms loved Peter Keating. He made them feel as if he had been there for a long time; he had always known how to become part of any place he entered; he came soft and bright as a sponge to be filled, unresisting, with the air and the mood of the place. His warm smile, his gay voice, the easy shrug of his shoulders seemed to say that nothing weighed too much within his soul and so he was not one to blame, to demand, to accuse anything.
As he sat now, watching Francon read the article, Francon raised his head to glance at him. Francon saw two eyes looking at him with immense approval—and two bright little points of contempt in the corners of Keating’s mouth, like two musical notes of laughter visible the second before they were to be heard. Francon felt a great wave of comfort. The comfort came from the contempt. The approval, together with that wise half-smile, granted him a grandeur he did not have to earn; a blind admiration would have been precarious; a deserved admiration would have been a responsibility; an undeserved admiration was precious.
“When you go, Peter, give this to Miss Jeffers to put in my scrapbook.”
On his way down the stairs, Keating flung the magazine high in the air and caught it smartly, his lips pursed to whistle without sound.
In the drafting room he found Tim Davis, his best friend, slouched despondently over a drawing. Tim Davis was the tall, blond boy at the next table, whom Keating had noticed long ago, because he had known, with no tangible evidence, but with certainty, as Keating always knew such things, that this was the favored draftsman of the office. Keating managed to be assigned, as frequently as possible, to do parts of the projects on which Davis worked. Soon they were going out to lunch together, and to a quiet little speak-easy after the day’s work, and Keating was listening with breathless attention to Davis’ talk about his love for one Elaine Duffy, not a word of which Keating ever remembered afterward.
He found Davis now in black gloom, his mouth chewing furiously a cigarette and a pencil at once. Keating did not have to question him. He merely bent his friendly face over Davis’ shoulder. Davis spit out the cigarette and exploded. He had just been told that he would have to work overtime tonight, for the third time this week.
“Got to stay late, God knows how late! Gotta finish this damn tripe tonight!” He slammed the sheets spread before him. “Look at it! Hours and hours and hours to finish it! What am I going to do?”
“Well, it’s because you’re the best man here, Tim, and they need you.”
“To hell with that! I’ve got a date with Elaine tonight! How’m I going to break it? Third time! She won’t believe me! She told me so last time! That’s the end! I’m going up to Guy the Mighty and tell him where he can put his plans and his job! I’m through!”
“Wait,” said Keating, and leaned closer to him. “Wait! There’s another way. I’ll finish them for you.”
“I’ll stay. I’ll do them. Don’t be afraid. No one’ll tell the difference.”
“Pete! Would you?”
“Sure. I’ve nothing to do tonight. You just stay till they all go home, then skip.”
“Oh, gee, Pete!” Davis sighed, tempted. “But look, if they find out, they’ll can me. You’re too new for this kind of job.”
“They won’t find out.”
“I can’t lose my job, Pete. You know I can’t. Elaine and I are going to be married soon. If anything happens ...”
“Nothing will happen.”
Shortly after six, Davis departed furtively from the empty drafting room, leaving Keating at his table.
Bending under a solitary green lamp, Keating glanced at the desolate expanse of three long rooms, oddly silent after the day’s rush, and he felt that he owned them, that he would own them, as surely as the pencil moved in his hand.
It was half past nine when he finished the plans, stacked them neatly on Davis’ table, and left the office. He walked down the street, glowing with a comfortable, undignified feeling, as though after a good meal. Then the realization of his loneliness struck him suddenly. He had to share this with someone tonight. He had no one. For the first time he wished his mother were in New York. But she had remained in Stanton, awaiting the day when he would be able to send for her. He had nowhere to go tonight, save to the respectable little boarding house on West Twenty-Eighth Street, where he could climb three flights of stairs to his clean, airless little room. He had met people in New York, many people, many girls, with one of whom he remembered spending a pleasant night, though he could not remember her last name; but he wished to see none of them. And then he thought of Catherine Halsey.
He had sent her a wire on the night of his graduation and forgotten her ever since. Now he wanted to see her; the desire was intense and immediate with the first sound of her name in his memory. He leaped into a bus for the long ride to Greenwich Village, climbed to the deserted top and, sitting alone on the front bench, cursed the traffic lights whenever they turned to red. It had always been like this where Catherine was concerned; and he wondered dimly what was the matter with him.
He had met her a year ago in Boston, where she had lived with her widowed mother. He had found Catherine homely and dull, on that first meeting, with nothing to her credit but her lovely smile, not a sufficient reason ever to see her again. He had telephoned her the next evening. Of the countless girls he had known in his student years she was the only one with whom he had never progressed beyond a few kisses. He could have any girl he met and he knew it; he knew that he could have Catherine; he wanted her; she loved him and had admitted it simply, openly, without fear or shyness, asking nothing of him, expecting nothing; somehow, he had never taken advantage of it. He had felt proud of the girls whom he escorted in those days, the most beautiful girls, the most popular, the best dressed, and he had delighted in the envy of his schoolmates. He had been ashamed of Catherine’s thoughtless sloppiness and of the fact that no other boy would look at her twice. But he had never been as happy as when he took her to fraternity dances. He had had many violent loves, when he swore he could not live without this girl or that; he forgot Catherine for weeks at a time and she never reminded him. He had always come back to her, suddenly, inexplicably, as he did tonight.
Her mother, a gentle little schoolteacher, had died last winter. Catherine had gone to live with an uncle in New York. Keating had answered some of her letters immediately, others—months later. She had always replied at once, and never written during his long silences, waiting patiently. He had felt, when he thought of her, that nothing would ever replace her. Then, in New York, within reach of a bus or a telephone, he had forgotten her again for a month.
He never thought, as he hurried to her now, that he should have announced his visit. He never wondered whether he would find her at home. He had always come back like this and she had always been there. She was there again tonight.
She opened the door for him, on the top floor of a shabby, pretentious brownstone house. “Hello, Peter,” she said, as if she had seen him yesterday.
She stood before him, too small, too thin for her clothes. The short black skirt flared out from the slim band of her waist; the boyish shirt collar hung loosely, pulled to one side, revealing the knob of a thin collarbone; the sleeves were too long over the fragile hands. She looked at him, her head bent to one side; her chestnut hair was gathered carelessly at the back of her neck, but it looked as though it were bobbed, standing, light and fuzzy, as a shapeless halo about her face. Her eyes were gray, wide and nearsighted; her mouth smiled slowly, delicately, enchantingly, her lips glistening.
“Hello, Katie,” he said.
He felt at peace. He felt he had nothing to fear, in this house or anywhere outside. He had prepared himself to explain how busy he’d been in New York; but explanations seemed irrelevant now.
“Give me your hat,” she said, “be careful of that chair, it’s not very steady, we have better ones in the living room, come in.”
The living room, he noticed, was modest but somehow distinguished, and in surprisingly good taste. He noticed the books; cheap shelves rising to the ceiling, loaded with precious volumes; the volumes stacked carelessly, actually being used. He noticed, over a neat, shabby desk, a Rembrandt etching, stained and yellow, found, perhaps, in some junk shop by the eyes of a connoisseur who had never parted with it, though its price would have obviously been of help to him. He wondered what business her uncle could be in; he had never asked.
He stood looking vaguely at the room, feeling her presence behind him, enjoying that sense of certainty which he found so rarely. Then he turned and took her in his arms and kissed her; her lips met his softly, eagerly; but she was neither frightened nor excited, too happy to accept this in any way save by taking it for granted.
“God, I’ve missed you!” he said, and knew that he had, every day since he’d seen her last and most of all, perhaps, on the days when he had not thought of her.
“You haven’t changed much,” she said. “You look a little thinner. It’s becoming. You’ll be very attractive when you’re fifty, Peter.”
“That’s not very complimentary—by implication.”
“Why? Oh, you mean I think you’re not attractive now? Oh, but you are.”
“You shouldn’t say that right out to me like that.”
“Why not? You know you are. But I’ve been thinking of what you’ll look like at fifty. You’ll have gray temples and you’ll wear a gray suit—I saw one in a window last week and I thought that would be the one-and you’ll be a very great architect.”
“You really think so?”
“Why, yes.” She was not flattering him. She did not seem to realize that it could be flattery. She was merely stating a fact, too certain to need emphasis.
He waited for the inevitable questions. But instead, they were talking suddenly of their old Stanton days together, and he was laughing, holding her across his knees, her thin shoulders leaning against the circle of his arm, her eyes soft, contented. He was speaking of their old bathing suits, of the runs in her stockings, of their favorite ice-cream parlor in Stanton, where they had spent so many summer evenings together—and he was thinking dimly that it made no sense at all; he had more pertinent things to tell and to ask her; people did not talk like that when they hadn’t seen each other for months. But it seemed quite normal to her; she did not appear to know that they had been parted.
He was first to ask finally:
“Did you get my wire?”
“Oh, yes. Thanks.”
“Don’t you want to know how I’m getting along in the city?”
“Sure. How are you getting along in the city?”
“Look here, you’re not terribly interested.”
“Oh, but I am! I want to know everything about you.”
“Why don’t you ask?”
“You’ll tell me when you want to.”
“It doesn’t matter much to you, does it?”
“What I’ve been doing.”
“Oh ... Yes, it does, Peter. No, not too much.”
“That’s sweet of you!”
“But, you see, it’s not what you do that matters really. It’s only you.”
“Just you here. Or you in the city. Or you somewhere in the world. I don’t know. Just that.”
“You know, you’re a fool, Katie. Your technique is something awful.”
“Your technique. You can’t tell a man so shamelessly, like that, that you’re practically crazy about him.”
“But I am.”
“But you can’t say so. Men won’t care for you.”
“But I don’t want men to care for me.”
“You want me to, don’t you?”
“But you do, don’t you?”
“I do,” he said, his arms tightening about her. “Damnably. I’m a bigger fool than you are.”
“Well, then it’s perfectly all right,” she said, her fingers in his hair, “isn’t it?”
“It’s always been perfectly all right, that’s the strangest part about it. ... But look, I want to tell you about what’s happened to me, because it’s important.”
“I’m really very interested, Peter.”
“Well, you know I’m working for Francon & Heyer and ... Oh, hell, you don’t even know what that means!”
“Yes, I do. I’ve looked them up in Who’s Who in Architecture. It said some very nice things about them. And I asked Uncle. He said they were tops in the business.”
“You bet they are. Francon—he’s the greatest designer in New York, in the whole country, in the world maybe. He’s put up seventeen skyscrapers, eight cathedrals, six railroad terminals and God knows what else.... Of course, you know, he’s an old fool and a pompous fraud who oils his way into everything and ...”
He stopped, his mouth open, staring at her. He had not intended to say that. He had never allowed himself to think that before.
She was looking at him serenely.
“Yes?” she asked. “And ... ?”
“Well ... and ...” he stammered, and he knew that he could not speak differently, not to her, “and that’s what I really think of him. And I have no respect for him at all. And I’m delighted to be working for him. See?”
“Sure,” she said quietly. “You’re ambitious, Peter.”
“Don’t you despise me for it?”
“No. That’s what you wanted.”
“Sure, that’s what I wanted. Well, actually, it’s not as bad as that. It’s a tremendous firm, the best in the city. I’m really doing work, and Francon is very pleased with me. I’m getting ahead. I think I can have any job I want in the place eventually.... Why, only tonight I took over a man’s work and he doesn’t know that he’ll be useless soon, because ... Katie! What am I saying?”
“It’s all right, dear. I understand.”
“If you did, you’d call me the names I deserve and make me stop it.”
“No, Peter. I don’t want to change you. I love you, Peter.”
“God help you!”
“I know that.”
“You know that? And you say it like this? Like you’d say, ‘Hello, it’s a beautiful evening’?”
“Well, why not? Why worry about it? I love you.”
“No, don’t worry about it! Don’t ever worry about it! ... Katie.... I’ll never love anyone else....”
“I know that too.”
He held her close, anxiously, afraid that her weightless little body would vanish. He did not know why her presence made him confess things unconfessed in his own mind. He did not know why the victory he came here to share had faded. But it did not matter. He had a peculiar sense of freedom—her presence always lifted from him a pressure he could not denne—he was alone—he was himself. All that mattered to him now was the feeling of her coarse cotton blouse against his wrist.
Then he was asking her about her own life in New York and she was speaking happily about her uncle.
“He’s wonderful, Peter. He’s really wonderful. He’s quite poor, but he took me in and he was so gracious about it, he gave up his study to make a room for me and now he has to work here, in the living room. You must meet him, Peter. He’s away now, on a lecture tour, but you must meet him when he comes back.”
“Sure, I’d love to.”
“You know, I wanted to go to work and be on my own, but he wouldn’t let me. ‘My dear child,’ he said, ‘not at seventeen. You don’t want me to be ashamed of myself, do you? I don’t believe in child labor.’ That was kind of a funny idea, don’t you think? He has so many funny ideas—I don’t understand them all, but they say he’s a brilliant man. So he made it look as if I were doing him a favor by letting him keep me, and I think that was really very decent of him.”
“What do you do with yourself all day long?”
“Nothing much of anything now. I read books. On architecture. Uncle has tons of books on architecture. But when he’s here I type his lectures for him. I really don’t think he likes me to do it, he prefers the typist he had, but I love it and he lets me. And he pays me her salary. I didn’t want to take it, but he made me.”
“What does he do for a living?”
“Oh, so many things, I don’t know, I can’t keep track of them. He teaches art history, for one thing, he’s a kind of professor.”
“And when are you going to college, by the way?”
“Oh ... Well ... well, you see, I don’t think Uncle approves of the idea. I told him how I’d always planned to go and that I’d work my own way through, but he seems to think it’s not for me. He doesn’t say much, only: ‘God made the elephant for toil and the mosquito for flitting about, and it’s not advisable, as a rule, to experiment with the laws of nature, however, if you want to try it, my dear child ...’ But he’s not objecting really, it’s up to me, only ...”
“Well, don’t let him stop you.”
“Oh, he wouldn’t want to stop me. Only, I was thinking, I was never any great shakes in high school, and, darling, I’m really quite utterly lousy at mathematics, and so I wonder ... But then, there’s no hurry, I’ve got plenty of time to decide.”
“Listen, Katie, I don’t like that. You’ve always planned on college. If that uncle of yours ...”
“You shouldn’t say it like this. You don’t know him. He’s the most amazing man. I’ve never met anyone quite like him. He’s so kind, so understanding. And he’s such fun, always joking, he’s so clever at it, nothing that you thought was serious ever seems to be when he’s around, and yet he’s a very serious man. You know, he spends hours talking to me, he’s never too tired and he’s not bored with my stupidity, he tells me all about strikes, and conditions in the slums, and the poor people in sweatshops, always about others, never about himself. A friend of his told me that Uncle could be a very rich man if he tried, he’s so clever, but he won’t, he just isn’t interested in money.”
“That’s not human.”
“Wait till you see him. Oh, he wants to meet you, too. I’ve told him about you. He calls you ‘the T-square Romeo.’ ”
“Oh, he does, does he?”
“But you don’t understand. He means it kindly. It’s the way he says things. You’ll have a lot in common. Maybe he could help you. He knows something about architecture, too. You’ll love Uncle Ellsworth.”
“Who?” said Keating.
“Say,” Keating asked, his voice a little husky, “what’s your uncle’s name?”
“Ellsworth Toohey. Why?”
His hands fell limply. He sat staring at her.
“What’s the matter, Peter?”
He swallowed. She saw the jerking motion of his throat. Then he said, his voice hard:
“Listen, Katie, I don’t want to meet your uncle.”
“I don’t want to meet him. Not through you.... You see, Katie, you don’t know me. I’m the kind that uses people. I don’t want to use you. Ever. Don’t let me. Not you.”
“Use me how? What’s the matter? Why?”
“It’s just this: I’d give my eyeteeth to meet Ellsworth Toohey, that’s all.” He laughed harshly. “So he knows something about architecture, does he? You little fool! He’s the most important man in architecture. Not yet, maybe, but that’s what he’ll be in a couple of years—ask Francon, that old weasel knows. He’s on his way to becoming the Napoleon of all architectural critics, your Uncle Ellsworth is, just watch him. In the first place, there aren’t many to bother writing about our profession, so he’s the smart boy who’s going to corner the market. You should see the big shots in our office lapping up every comma he puts out in print! So you think maybe he could help me? Well, he could make me, and he will, and I’m going to meet him some day, when I’m ready for him, as I met Francon, but not here, not through you. Understand? Not from you!”
“But, Peter, why not?”
“Because I don’t want it that way! Because it’s filthy and I hate it, all of it, my work and my profession, and what I’m doing and what I’m going to do! It’s something I want to keep you out of. You’re all I really have. Just keep out of it, Katie!”
“Out of what?”
“I don’t know!”
She rose and stood in the circle of his arms, his face hidden against her hip; she stroked his hair, looking down at him.
“All right, Peter. I think I know. You don’t have to meet him until you want to. Just tell me when you want it. You can use me, if you have to. It’s all right. It won’t change anything.”
When he raised his head, she was laughing softly.
“You’ve worked too hard, Peter. You’re a little unstrung. Suppose I make you some tea?”
“Oh, I’d forgotten all about it, but I’ve had no dinner today. Had no time.”
“Well, of all things! Well, how perfectly disgusting! Come on to the kitchen, this minute, I’ll see what I can fix up for you!”
He left her two hours later, and he walked away feeling light, clean, happy, his fears forgotten, Toohey and Francon forgotten. He thought only that he had promised to come again tomorrow and that it was an unbearably long time to wait. She stood at the door, after he had gone, her hand on the knob he had touched, and she thought that he might come tomorrow—or three months later.
“When you finish tonight,” said Henry Cameron, “I want to see you in my office.”
“Yes,” said Roark.
Cameron veered sharply on his heels and walked out of the drafting room. It had been the longest sentence he had addressed to Roark in a month.
Roark had come to this room every morning, had done his task, and had heard no word of comment. Cameron would enter the drafting room and stand behind Roark for a long time, looking over his shoulder. It was as if his eyes concentrated deliberately on trying to throw the steady hand off its course on the paper. The two other draftsmen botched their work from the mere thought of such an apparition standing behind them. Roark did not seem to notice it. He went on, his hand unhurried, he took his time about discarding a blunted pencil and picking out another. “Uh-huh,” Cameron would grunt suddenly. Roark would turn his head then, politely attentive. “What is it?” he would ask. Cameron would turn away without a word, his narrowed eyes underscoring contemptuously the fact that he considered an answer unnecessary, and would leave the drafting room. Roark would go on with his drawing.
“Looks bad,” Loomis, the young draftsman, confided to Simpson, his ancient colleague. “The old man doesn’t like this guy. Can’t say that I blame him, either. Here’s one that won’t last long.”
Simpson was old and helpless; he had survived from Cameron’s three-floor office, had stuck and had never understood it. Loomis was young, with the face of a drugstore-corner lout; he was here because he had been fired from too many other places.
Both men disliked Roark. He was usually disliked, from the first sight of his face, anywhere he went. His face was closed like the door of a safety vault; things locked in safety vaults are valuable; men did not care to feel that. He was a cold, disquieting presence in the room; his presence had a strange quality: it made itself felt and yet it made them feel that he was not there; or perhaps that he was and they weren’t.
After work he walked the long distance to his home, a tenement near the East River. He had chosen that tenement because he had been able to get, for two-fifty a week, its entire top floor, a huge room that had been used for storage: it had no ceiling and the roof leaked between its naked beams. But it had a long row of windows, along two of its walls, some panes filled with glass, others with cardboard, and the windows opened high over the river on one side and the city on the other.
A week ago Cameron had come into the drafting room and had thrown down on Roark’s table a violent sketch of a country residence. “See if you can make a house out of this!” he had snapped and gone without further explanation. He had not approached Roark’s table during the days that followed. Roark had finished the drawings last night and left them on Cameron’s desk. This morning, Cameron had come in, thrown some sketches of steel joints to Roark, ordered him to appear in his office later and had not entered the drafting room again for the rest of the day.
The others were gone. Roark pulled an old piece of oil cloth over his table and went to Cameron’s office. His drawings of the country house were spread on the desk. The light of the lamp fell on Cameron’s cheek, on his beard, the white threads glistening, on his fist, on a corner of the drawing, its black lines bright and hard as if embossed on the paper.
“You’re fired,” said Cameron.
Roark stood, halfway across the long room, his weight on one leg, his arms hanging by his sides, one shoulder raised.
“Am I?” he asked quietly, without moving.
“Come here,” said Cameron. “Sit down.”
“You’re too good,” said Cameron. “You’re too good for what you want to do with yourself. It’s no use, Roark. Better now than later.”
“What do you mean?”
“It’s no use wasting what you’ve got on an ideal that you’ll never reach, that they’ll never let you reach. It’s no use, taking that marvelous thing you have and making a torture rack for yourself out of it. Sell it, Roark. Sell it now. It won’t be the same, but you’ve got enough in you. You’ve got what they’ll pay you for, and pay plenty, if you use it their way. Accept them, Roark. Compromise. Compromise now, because you’ll have to later, anyway, only then you’ll have gone through things you’ll wish you hadn’t. You don’t know. I do. Save yourself from that. Leave me. Go to someone else.”
“Did you do that?”
“You presumptuous bastard! How good do you think I said you were? Did I tell you to compare yourself to ...” He stopped because he saw that Roark was smiling.
He looked at Roark, and suddenly smiled in answer, and it was the most painful thing that Roark had ever seen.
“No,” said Cameron softly, “that won’t work, huh? No, it won’t ... Well, you’re right. You’re as good as you think you are. But I want to speak to you. I don’t know exactly how to go about it. I’ve lost the habit of speaking to men like you. Lost it? Maybe I’ve never had it. Maybe that’s what frightens me now. Will you try to understand?”
“I understand. I think you’re wasting your time.”
“Don’t be rude. Because I can’t be rude to you now. I want you to listen. Will you listen and not answer me?”
“Yes. I’m sorry. I didn’t intend it as rudeness.”
“You see, of all men, I’m the last one to whom you should have come. I’ll be committing a crime if I keep you here. Somebody should have warned you against me. I won’t help you at all. I won’t discourage you. I won’t teach you any common sense. Instead, I’ll push you on. I’ll drive you the way you’re going now. I’ll beat you into remaining what you are, and I’ll make you worse.... Don’t you see? In another month I won’t be able to let you go. I’m not sure I can now. So don’t argue with me and go. Get out while you can.”
“But can I? Don’t you think it’s too late for both of us? It was too late for me twelve years ago.”
“Try it, Roark. Try to be reasonable for once. There’s plenty of big fellows who’ll take you, expulsion or no expulsion, if I say so. They may laugh at me in their luncheon speeches, but they steal from me when it suits them, and they know that I know a good draftsman when I see one. I’ll give you a letter to Guy Francon. He worked for me once, long ago. I think I fired him, but that wouldn’t matter. Go to him. You won’t like it at first, but you’ll get used to it. And you’ll thank me for it many years from now.”
“Why are you saying all this to me? That’s not what you want to say. That’s not what you did.”
“That’s why I’m saying it! Because that’s not what I did! ... Look, Roark, there’s one thing about you, the thing I’m afraid of. It’s not just the kind of work you do; I wouldn’t care, if you were an exhibitionist who’s being different as a stunt, as a lark, just to attract attention to himself. It’s a smart racket, to oppose the crowd and amuse it and collect admission to the side show. If you did that, I wouldn’t worry. But it’s not that. You love your work. God help you, you love it! And that’s the curse. That’s the brand on your forehead for all of them to see. You love it, and they know it, and they know they have you. Do you ever look at the people in the street? Aren’t you afraid of them? I am. They move past you and they wear hats and they carry bundles. But that’s not the substance of them. The substance of them is hatred for any man who loves his work. That’s the only kind they fear. I don’t know why. You’re opening yourself up, Roark, for each and every one of them.”
“But I never notice the people in the streets.”
“Do you notice what they’ve done to me?”
“I notice only that you weren’t afraid of them. Why do you ask me to be?”
“That’s just why I’m asking it!” He leaned forward, his fists closing on the desk before him. “Roark, do you want me to say it? You’re cruel, aren’t you? All right, I’ll say it: do you want to end up like this? Do you want to be what I am?”
Roark got up and stood against the edge of light on the desk.
“If,” said Roark, “at the end of my life, I’ll be what you are today, here, in this office, I shall consider it an honor that I could not have deserved.”
“Sit down!” roared Cameron. “I don’t like demonstrations!”
Roark looked down at himself, at the desk, astonished to find himself standing. He said: “I’m sorry. I didn’t know I got up.”
“Well, sit down. Listen. I understand. And it’s very nice of you. But you don’t know. I thought a few days here would be enough to take the hero worship out of you. I see it wasn’t. Here you are, saying to yourself how grand old Cameron is, a noble fighter, a martyr to a lost cause, and you’d just love to die on the barricades with me and to eat in dime lunchwagons with me for the rest of your life. I know, it looks pure and beautiful to you now, at your great old age of twenty-two. But do you know what it means? Thirty years of a lost cause, that sounds beautiful, doesn’t it? But do you know how many days there are in thirty years? Do you know what happens in those days? Roark! Do you know what happens?”
“You don’t want to speak of that.”
“No! I don’t want to speak of that! But I’m going to. I want you to hear. I want you to know what’s in store for you. There will be days when you’ll look at your hands and you’ll want to take something and smash every bone in them, because they’ll be taunting you with what they could do, if you found a chance for them to do it, and you can’t find that chance, and you can’t bear your living body because it has failed those hands somewhere. There will be days when a bus driver will snap at you as you enter a bus, and he’ll be only asking for a dime, but that won’t be what you’ll hear; you’ll hear that you’re nothing, that he’s laughing at you, that it’s written on your forehead, that thing they hate you for. There will be days when you’ll stand in the corner of a hall and listen to a creature on a platform talking about buildings, about that work which you love, and the things he’ll say will make you wait for somebody to rise and crack him open between two thumbnails; and then you’ll hear the people applauding him, and you’ll want to scream, because you won’t know whether they’re real or you are, whether you’re in a room full of gored skulls, or whether someone has just emptied your own head, and you’ll say nothing, because the sounds you could make—they’re not a language in that room any longer; but if you’d want to speak, you won’t anyway, because you’ll be brushed aside, you who have nothing to tell them about buildings! Is that what you want?”
Roark sat still, the shadows sharp on his face, a black wedge on a sunken cheek, a long triangle of black cutting across his chin, his eyes on Cameron.
“Not enough?” asked Cameron. “All right. Then, one day, you’ll see on a piece of paper before you a building that will make you want to kneel; you won’t believe that you’ve done it, but you will have done it; then you’ll think that the earth is beautiful and the air smells of spring and you love your fellow men, because there is no evil in the world. And you’ll set out from your house with this drawing, to have it erected, because you won’t have any doubt that it will be erected by the first man to see it. But you won’t get very far from your house. Because you’ll be stopped at the door by the man who’s come to turn off the gas. You hadn’t had much food, because you saved money to finish your drawing, but still you had to cook something and you hadn’t paid for it.... All right, that’s nothing, you can laugh at that. But finally you’ll get into a man’s office with your drawing, and you’ll curse yourself for taking so much space of his air with your body, and you’ll try to squeeze yourself out of his sight, so that he won’t see you, but only hear your voice begging him, pleading, your voice licking his knees; you’ll loathe yourself for it, but you won’t care, if only he’d let you put up that building, you won’t care, you’ll want to rip your insides open to show him, because if he saw what’s there he’d have to let you put it up. But he’ll say that he’s very sorry, only the commission has just been given to Guy Francon. And you’ll go home, and do you know what you’ll do there? You’ll cry. You’ll cry like a woman, like a drunkard, like an animal. That’s your future, Howard Roark. Now, do you want it?”
“Yes,” said Roark.
Cameron’s eyes dropped; then his head moved down a little, then a little farther; his head went on dropping slowly, in long, single jerks, then stopped; he sat still, his shoulders hunched, his arms huddled together in his lap.
“Howard,” whispered Cameron, “I’ve never told it to anyone....”
“Thank you....” said Roark.
After a long time, Cameron raised his head.
“Go home now,” said Cameron, his voice flat. “You’ve worked too much lately. And you have a hard day ahead.” He pointed to the drawings of the country house. “This is all very well, and I wanted to see what you’d do, but it’s not good enough to build. You’ll have to do it over. I’ll show you what I want tomorrow.”
A YEAR WITH THE FIRM OF FRANCON & HEYER HAD GIVEN KEATING the whispered title of crown prince without portfolio. Still only a draftsman, he was Francon’s reigning favorite. Francon took him out to lunch—an unprecedented honor for an employee. Francon called him to be present at interviews with clients. The clients seemed to like seeing so decorative a young man in an architect’s office.
Lucius N. Heyer had the annoying habit of asking Francon suddenly: “When did you get the new man?” and pointing to an employee who had been there for three years. But Heyer surprised everybody by remembering Keating’s name and by greeting him, whenever they met, with a smile of positive recognition. Keating had had a long conversation with him, one dreary November afternoon, on the subject of old porcelain. It was Heyer’s hobby; he owned a famous collection, passionately gathered. Keating displayed an earnest knowledge of the subject, though he had never heard of old porcelain till the night before, which he had spent at the public library. Heyer was delighted; nobody in the office cared about his hobby, few ever noticed his presence. Heyer remarked to his partner: “You’re certainly good at picking your men, Guy. There’s one boy I wish we wouldn’t lose, what’s his name?—Keating.” “Yes, indeed,” Francon answered, smiling, “yes, indeed.”
In the drafting room, Keating concentrated on Tim Davis. Work and drawings were only unavoidable details on the surface of his days; Tim Davis was the substance and the shape of the first step in his career.
Meet the Author
Ayn Rand's first novel, We the Living, was published in 1936. With the publication of The Fountainhead in 1943, she achieved spectacular and enduring success. Through her novels and nonfiction writings, which express her unique philosophy, Objectivism, Rand maintains a lasting influence on popular thought.
- Date of Birth:
- February 2, 1905
- Date of Death:
- March 6, 1982
- Place of Birth:
- St. Petersburg, Russia
- Place of Death:
- New York, New York
- Graduated with highest honors in history from the University of Petrograd, 1924
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
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What amazes me about this book, is that a lot of people are under the impression that this is a book about architecture. I remember back in `96, when I was in architecture school and people found out about it, they would ask me if I had read The Fountainhead. I would tell them I hadn¿t and they would suggest that I read it, because it is ¿a book about architecture.¿
This book is NOT about architecture.
It deals with architects. It deals with buildings. It deals with the creation process and it meaning, but that very well could have been all substituted by a painter, or a director, or a freaking plumber. This book is beyond everything else a philosophical statement on what Ayn Rand calls Objectivism, pitted against Collectivism which is its antithesis. One one end you have the ego, and the egotist, which holds above everything else the self. True, honest and unwilling to dilute his/her ideas, the egotist, stands above the thoughts of the mob, which is too simple to understand. This is Howard Roark, the genius who is calmly driven by his own confidence and morality, without need of religion and without need of assurance from his peers. On the other hand you have the man that will sacrifice the self, for the masses, the `humanitarian¿, the one Ayn Rand calls through her characters, the second-handers. These are the people that live to please the masses, that sacrifice self-worth in exchange for the praise that comes with making others happy. And of these, there are many in this book.
It is an interesting point of view, in my opinion too idealistic and extremely black and white to ever fully function in society, but the argument she makes is interesting nonetheless.
The book as a whole, philosophies aside, is interesting, even if it deals with architecture and most of the people have very little background in the subject. However, because of the philosophy that has been injected into the material, the dialogue tends to get on the heavy side, and some of the characters seem a bit too extreme to seem real. As a result, this is not the type of book that one becomes a part of, but rather one that we can see unfold in a rather voyeuristic sense. There is nothing particularly wrong with that, but its simply a different approach.
Though I do not agree with the idea of objectivism, and I fail to see the world in the way this book describes, there is a lot of good points raised, a lot of material that brings up for interesting thought and conversation if you are into discussing philosphy. But you do not have to agree with the book to appreciate it for its fine quality, its intricate plot, its very fleshed out characters and twists which one never quite sees coming.
This is a heavy, intelligent read and one that requires a bit more of an investment from the reader, where nothing is quite left in the surface and written out over 727 pages in small print. If you pick up this book, expect to put time into getting through it. I personally am not a fast reader, so it took me a while¿but the content and the story are intriguing that one never quite feels like it is dragging.
Anyone that has read Ayn Rand's fiction is familiar with her complex character development, her intelligent plot progression, and her unique and captivating philosophies. The Fountainhead falls seamlessly in line with the other fantastic works in Rand's impressive collection. I was intimidated when I first began this book. Rand's other pieces have shown great depth of understanding and contain abstract, advanced concepts on politics, society, and mankind itself. However, everything that I had read had been reasonably short, like her novel Anthem, which is around one hundred and fifty pages, or her 120 page long play, Night of January 16th. It is a story of a man that will not give up his self to the common way of thinking. He holds firm to his daring and controversial ideas in spite of those who strive to break him. Howard Roark, the hero of The Fountainhead, is a bold, intelligent architect with unfailing integrity. He meets one obstacle after another as he tries to build in a society that glorifies classical architectural forms and refuses to accept Roark's modern and innovative designs. Peter Keating is Roark's past colleague who gives up everything that makes up his spirit in order to gain success in the competitive world of architecture. He hates Roark for his integrity and honorable, unfailing ideals. Dominique Francon is the stunning, fascinating, intelligent daughter of a prestigious architect, who falls terribly in love with Howard Roark, but tries to tear down his career and marries his enemy. A vast number of people work to sabotage Roark's career, but find that he will not yield. The Fountainhead is a beautiful tribute to the spirit of man. Rand depicts the courage that must be had in order for a man to cleave to his innate ego and power and portrays how inspiring that strength can be. I think her concept is magnificent; - that people are willing to succumb to the popular opinion or the accepted norm and give up their true selves, their souls (in a secular sense) to simply obtain recognition. Her flawless and intricate writing adds to the depth of her story and philosophy. This is a book that takes reflection and a willingness to search for understanding, but the reward will surely justify the effort.
Rand's writing is captivating and intelligent. The character development is wonderful, and I was unable to put the book down. I have recommended The Fountainhead to multiple friends and to my book club with rave reviews from anyone who's read it. It is an important addition to anyone's personal library.
There not enough words to praise this book...a masterpeice. A must read.
Ayn Rand is one of the most intelligent authors i've ever know of. Her books are not only well written, but enjoyable too. Fountainhead is intellecually stimulating and will keep you thinking. You may even have to read it twice! It's really not about architecture at all, but the concept that man's self centered mental stability is the fountainhead of life and how decisive they are. If you are looking for something to make you smarter.... this is it!
The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand was a very complex book. It covers many ideas, such as the manipulation of the human psyche, and the nature of the imagination. The story is about a controversial architect named Howard Roark, who is shunned by many people for his radical ideas. It features a variety of characters, such as Peter Keating, an ambitious architect, Ellsworth Toohey, a manipulator of men, and Gail Wynand, the owner of a multi-million dollar news corporation. The Fountainhead explores the media and how it is influenced by its owners and writers. It also has a large focus on altruism, especially towards the end of the book. Rand basically says that altruism is simply a facade for men to appear benevolent. The ignorance of mankind and its shunning of new ideas is a major theme of this book. I did not really enjoy The Fountainhead for a variety of reasons. One of the numerous things that I did not like about Rand¿s book was the way in which she describes her characters. They are very flat and static. For example, the main character, Roark, is not very believable as a person as he does not show any emotion or seem to care about anything. Another reason is Rand¿s writing style. It is much too flat and monotonous for me. Although she makes good use of imagery, the book is lacking in fluidity and other literary techniques, such as metaphors. In conclusion, The Fountainhead¿s underlying messages were good, but the way in which they were transmitted onto the page were not as well done.
This is my first Ayn Rand book and I was a bit worried that there would be too much lecture and not enough story. Well the story line is excellent and the character development superb. I felt all sorts of feelings and the story did challenge me to look at societal dynamics. I would highly recommend this book to anyone willing to think and challenge him/herself. It was a very enjoyable book, I look forward to reading more of Ayn Rand's work.
Ayn Rand has written a novel that is also a warning to future generations. While her expression of her personal phylosophy may not resonate with everyone, we can all understand her assertion that man, or women, should not begin life under the blanket of mediocrity. Her characters show individuals who celebrate their own abilities and demand nothing from others except respect for that ability. The story takes us on a journey where we are not really sure where it will end but with an ending that does not surprise the reader. Ms. Rand's style does not lend itself well to casual dialogue between her characters so they sometimes come off a bit contrived, but althentic nonetheless. This is not a book for anyone looking to spend a quiet afternoon with simple, light fare. it is a story for those who wish to stimulate their intellect.
Part of the appeal of ebooks was that they where supposed to be more economically, 27.99 is definitely not part of the reason why i bought my nook. Like with the ebook version of atlas shrugged, you will get more bang for your buck buying the actual book version, at a ridiculously low price of about, 9.99$-- and still have left over for another copy! How or why anyone would think that buying this ebook at almost 3 times the price of the paperback is a good investment, is beyond me.
The Fountainhead is a character study of people with and without integrity. The hero is uncompromising in his approach to others as well as to himself. The "villain" is one whose sole purpose in life is to manipulate others into compromising their integrity. The other characters are gradients along the line of integrity. I chose this book because I had read Atlas Shrugged by the same author and found that the issues it addressed were as relevant to this time as it was when it was written. I hoped for more of the same from The Fountainhead. While it was worth the read, I enjoyed Atlas Shrugged more.
Good book i liked the charecters better then atlas henry is epic makes u think people do make theses stupid choices i get what she says ,a few creative people carry everyone and art is puposly wateredd down true evil in troveys plan to control world by sacrafice deep
Ayn's portrayal of the heroic and the best within a man through a gripping plot with a logical and brilliant premise of what makes greatness possible had struck me with the force of a lightning bolt when I'd read it first in the spring of 1972 at the age of 15. It is the reason I chose to move to and adopt the USA as my motherland in 1983. I'm reading this timeless novel again at the age of 57 and am experiencing a sense of joy and exaltation at being alive. Thank you Ayn for sharing your discovery and your sense of life.
After reading the reviews I was very excited to read this. However, getting through it was brutal! Although it is intelligent and well written, it is slow paced and generally boring. I had to finish because I don't like leaving a book once I have started it, but I wish I had never started it.
Interesting to follow her thread of the various characters and their goals and interactions in light of events occurring in the U.S. over recent years. The book seemed shorter than it actually is after finishing it
Rand was one of the truly original thinkers of the 20th century and THE FOUNTAINHEAD is one of her two fiction masterpieces, along with ATLAS SHRUGGED. It is interesting that so many of Rand's predictions of where America could go under the wrong leaders have come to pass under Barack Hussein Obama. Frightening.