Howard Roark, a brilliant young architecture student, is expelled from the Stanton Institute of Technology for refusing to abide by its outdated traditions. Despite the determined effort of some professors to defend Roark, and the subsequent offer to continue at Stanton from the headmaster,... read more (warning: may contain spoilers)
Howard Roark, a brilliant young architecture student, is expelled from the Stanton Institute of Technology for refusing to abide by its outdated traditions. Despite the determined effort of some professors to defend Roark, and the subsequent offer to continue at Stanton from the headmaster, Howard chooses to leave the school. He goes to New York City to work for Henry Cameron, a disgraced architect whom Roark admires - being formally Cameron's employee but in fact his disciple, and in effect, his adopted son. Cameron who once was architecture's modernist hero, has fallen from fame due to the fickle demands of society and his own caustic personality. His work serves as an inspiration for Howard. Roark’s highly successful but vacuous schoolmate, Peter Keating, also moves to New York to work for the prestigious architectural firm, Francon & Heyer. Roark and Cameron create inspired work, but their projects rarely receive recognition, whereas Keating’s ability to flatter and please brings him almost instant success despite his lack of originality.
Roark closes his office rather than compromise his drawings, and his ideals, to the whims of his clients. He takes a job at a Connecticut granite quarry owned by Guy Francon, whose beautiful, temperamental, and idealistic daughter, Dominique, beguiles Peter Keating. Upon the urging of his mother, Keating breaks off his engagement with Catherine to facilitate his romance with Dominique.
While Roark is working in the quarry, he encounters Dominique, who has retreated to her family's estate in the same town as the quarry. There is an immediate attraction between them. Rather than indulge in traditional flirtation, the two engage in a battle of wills which results in rape. (Author Ayn Rand said that "if it was rape, it was rape by engraved invitation."<citation needed>) Not long after, Roark leaves to build the Enright House.
Ellsworth Toohey, a columnist for The New York Banner (a yellow press-style newspaper owned by Gail Wynand) and author of the popular column One Small Voice, is an outspoken socialist, who is covertly rising to power by shaping public opinion through his column and his circle of influential associates, and whose quite openly proclaimed designs are not understood or taken seriously. Toohey sets out to destroy Roark through a smear campaign he spearheads at the Banner. As the first step, Toohey convinces a weak-minded businessman named Hopton Stoddard to hire Roark as the designer for a temple dedicated to the human spirit and gives Roark carte blanche to design it as he sees fit. Roark designs the temple, with a naked statue of Dominique, which creates the first public outcry against Howard and Stoddard is (with Toohey's encouragement) appalled at what Roark has built. Toohey further manipulates Stoddard into suing Roark for general incompetence and fraud. At Roark’s trial, every prominent architect in New York (including Keating) testifies that Roark’s style is unorthodox and illegitimate. Dominique defends Roark, but Stoddard wins the case and Roark loses his business again.
Dominique believes that greatness such as Roark's should never be offered to a public unable to appreciate it, and decides that since she cannot have the world she wants (in which men like him are recognized for what they are) she will live completely and entirely in the world she has, which shuns him and praises Keating. That evening, Dominique pays Keating a visit, and makes him a one-time offer of her hand in marriage. Keating accepts, though he is engaged to Toohey's niece Catherine, and they are married that evening. Dominique turns her entire spirit over to Peter, hosting the dinners he wants, agreeing with him, and saying whatever he wants her to say. She fights Roark, and herds all of his potential clients over to the slowly weakening Keating. Despite this, Roark continues to attract a small but steady stream of perceptive, intelligent clients who see the value in his work.
To win Keating a prestigious architecture commission offered by Gail Wynand, the owner and editor-in-chief of the Banner, Dominique agrees to sleep with Wynand. Wynand then buys Keating's silence and a divorce for Dominique and Keating, after which Wynand and Dominique are married.
Wynand subsequently discovers that every building he likes is done by Roark, so he enlists Roark to build a home for himself and Dominique. The home is built, and Roark and Gail become great friends, although he does not know about Roark's past relationship with Dominique.
Now washed up and out of the public eye, Keating realizes he is a failure. Rather than accept retirement, he pleads with Toohey for his influence in favor of Keating to get the commission for the much sought after Cortlandt housing project. Keating knows that his most successful projects were aided by Roark, and he knows Roark is the only person who can design Cortlandt, due to its economical requirements. Roark agrees to design it in exchange for complete anonymity—and the agreement that it would be built exactly as he designed.
When Roark returns from a long yacht trip with Wynand he finds that, despite the agreement, the Cortlandt Homes project has been changed. Roark asks Dominique to distract the night watchman and dynamites the building to prevent the subversion of his vision. The entire country condemns Roark, but Wynand finally finds the courage to follow his convictions and orders his newspapers to defend him. The Banner’s circulation drops and the workers go on strike (thanks to Toohey's quiet conspiracy to "stack" the paper with those who agree with him, or those whom he can control), but Wynand keeps printing with Dominique’s help. Eventually the tide of public opinion rises against Wynand and most of his staff leaves in protest. Wynand is eventually faced with the choice of closing the paper or reversing his stance and agreeing to the union demands; he gives in, the newspaper publishes a denunciation of Roark over Wynand's signature.
At the trial, Roark seems doomed, but he rouses the courtroom with a speech about the value of ego and the need to remain true to oneself. The jury finds him not guilty. Roark marries Dominique. Wynand, who has finally grasped the nature of the "power" he thought he held, asks Roark to design one last building, a skyscraper that will testify to the supremacy of man: "Build it as a monument to that spirit which is yours...and could have been mine."
A brief epilogue eighteen months later shows the Wynand Building well on its way to completion. The last scene follows Dominique (now Mrs. Roark), entering the site to meet Roark atop the steel framework.
“The question isn't who is going to let me; it's who is going to stop me.”Howard Roark
“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.””Howard Roark
“The hardest thing to explain is the glaringly evident which everybody has decided not to see.”
“There will be days when you'll take a 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.”Henry Cameron
“Sometimes he was asked to show his sketches...it was like having the clothes torn from his body and the shame was not that his body was exposed but that it was exposed to indifferent eyes.”
“Everything to which you grant your love is yours.”
“He thought what a power there was in words; later, for those who heard them, but first for the one who found them: a healing power, a solution, like the breaking of a barrier.”
“He had left them a gift, which they could not conceive...”Howard Roark
“Every form of happiness is private. Our greatest moments are personal, self-motivated, not to be touched.”
“Prometheus was chained to a rock and torn by vultures—because he had stolen the fire of the gods. Adam was condemned to suffer—because he had eaten the fruit of the tree of knowledge. Whatever the legend, somewhere in the shadows of its memory mankind knew that its glory began with one and that that one paid for his courage.”
“And here man faces his basic alternative: he can survive in only one of two ways—by the independent work of his own mind or as a parasite fed by the minds of others.”
“The leaders of collectivist movements ask nothing for themselves. But observe the results.”
““That love is reverence, and worship, and glory, and the upward glance. Not a bandage for dirty sores. But they don’t know it. Those who speak of love most promiscuously are the ones who’ve never felt it. They make some sort of feeble stew out of sympathy, compassion, contempt and general indifference, and they call it love. Once you’ve felt what it means to love as you and I know it–the total passion for the total height–you’re incapable of anything less.””
“"Build it as a monument to that spirit which is yours . . . and could have been mine."”Gail Wynand
“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 the matter of standards. I inherit nothing. I stand at the end of no tradition. I may, perhaps, stand at the beginning of one.”Roark to Dean of Stanton
“You've made a mistake already. By asking me. Never ask people. Not about your work. Don't you know what you want you want? How can you stand it, not to know?”Roark to Peter Keating when the latter asks his opinion on the choice for his future.
“No man likes to be beaten. But to be beaten by a man who has always stood as a particular example of mediocrityin his eyes, top start by the side of this mediocrity and to watch it shoot up, while he struggles and gets nothing but a boot in his face, to see the mediocrity snatch from him, one after another, the chances he'd have given his life for, to see the mediocrity worshipped, to miss the place he wants and to see mediocrity enshrined upon it, to lose, to be sacrificed, to be ignored, to be beaten, beaten, beaten --------not by a greater genius, not by god, but by a Peter Keating ---- well, my little amateur, do you think the Spanish Inquisition ever thought of torture to equal this”Ellsworth Toohey
“Every loneliness is a pinnacle”
“Have you seen your best friends love everything about you ----- except the things that count? And your most important is nothing to them, nothing, not even sound they can recognize”
“To say 'I Love You' one must learn how to say the 'I'”Dominique
“I don’t feel helpless as a rule”Roark
“I don’t wish to be the symbol of anything. I’m only myself."”
““True. I’m glad you don’t care. Because I never have any definite destination. This ship is not for going to places, but for getting away from them. When I stop at a port, it’s only for the sheer pleasure of leaving it. I always think: Here’s one more spot that can’t hold me.” / (—Cierto. Me alegra que no te importe porque jamás tengo un destino definido. Este barco no es para ir a los lugares sino para escapar de ellos. Cuando atraco en un puerto, es sólo por el placer de dejarlo. Siempre pienso: "Aquí hay otro lugar que no me puede retener".)”Gail Wynand
““Have been torturing you. Of course. One can’t love man without hating most of the creatures who pretend to bear his name. It’s one or the other. One doesn’t love God and sacrilege impartially. Except when one doesn’t know that sacrilege has been committed. Because one doesn’t know God.” / (—Te han estado torturando. Seguro. Uno no puede amar al hombre sin odiar a la mayoría de las criaturas que pretenden portar esa denominación. Es lo uno, o lo otro. No se ama a Dios y al sacrilegio equitativamente. Salvo cuando uno ignora que el sacrilegio se ha cometido porque no se conoce a Dios.)”Gail Wynand
“You know how people long to be eternal. But they die with every day that passes. When you meet them, they’re not what you met last. In any given hour, they kill some part of themselves. They change, they deny, they contradict—and they call it growth. / (Tú sabes cuánto las personas desean ser eternas, pero mueren cada día que pasa. Cuando te los consigues, no son los mismos de la vez anterior. A cada hora, matan una parte de sí mismos. Cambian, niegan, se contradicen, y lo llaman crecimiento.)”Steven Mallory
“Don’t despise the middleman. He’s necessary. Someone had to tell them. It takes two to make every great career: the man who is great, and the man—almost rarer—who is great enough to see greatness and say so.” / (No desprecies al intermediario. Es necesario. Alguien tiene que decir las cosas. Para toda gran carrera se requiere de dos personas: el gran hombre y el hombre, más escaso aún, que es suficientemente grande para ver la grandeza y proclamarla.)”Kent Lansing
“It is the unsacrificed self that we must respect in man above all.”Gail Wynand
“I could die for you, Gail. But I couldn't and wouldn't live for you.”Howard Roark
“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.”
“But why should you care what people will say? All you have to do is please yourself.”Mrs. Keating
A truly selfish man cannot be affected by the approval of others. He doesn’t need it.”Highlighted by 396 Kindle customers
Integrity is the ability to stand by an idea. That presupposes the ability to think. Thinking is something one doesn’t borrow or pawn.Highlighted by 373 Kindle customers
If one doesn’t respect oneself one can have neither love nor respect for others.”Highlighted by 335 Kindle customers
When facing society, the man most concerned, the man who is to do the most and contribute the most, has the least say.Highlighted by 311 Kindle customers
“It’s said that the worst thing one can do to a man is to kill his self-respect. But that’s not true. Self-respect is something that can’t be killed. The worst thing is to kill a man’s pretense at it.”Highlighted by 302 Kindle customers
“Degrees of ability vary, but the basic principle remains the same: the degree of a man’s independence, initiative and personal love for his work determines his talent as a worker and his worth as a man. Independence is the only gauge of human virtue and value. What a man is and makes of himself; not what he has or hasn’t done for others. There is no substitute for personal dignity. There is no standard of personal dignity except independence.Highlighted by 277 Kindle customers
“That love is reverence, and worship, and glory, and the upward glance. Not a bandage for dirty sores. But they don’t know it. Those who speak of love most promiscuously are the ones who’ve never felt it. They make some sort of feeble stew out of sympathy, compassion, contempt and general indifference, and they call it love. Once you’ve felt what it means to love as you and I know it—the total passion for the total height—you’re incapable of anything less.”Highlighted by 266 Kindle customers
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.Highlighted by 261 Kindle customers
Every form of happiness is private. Our greatest moments are personal, self-motivated, not to be touched. The things which are sacred or precious to us are the things we withdraw from promiscuous sharing.Highlighted by 246 Kindle customers
“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.”Highlighted by 242 Kindle customers
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