Almost immediately after signing the contract for the Heller house, Peter Keating comes immediately to outwardly congratulate Roark, but inwardly resents him, for being first between them to open his own firm. Roark goes to see Henry Cameron in New Jersey. Cameron cannot hide his delight and asks for photographs of Roarks new office: “youre on your way into hell, Howard,?he remarks sardonically (133). Roark, who visits the construction site constantly, is gratified to find his friend Mike the electrician on the job. Roark and Heller become fast friends. Sadly, not one word of the houses completion appears in any newspapers or other periodicals. The house becomes known in the neighborhood as “the booby hatch.?
Dominique Francon is assigned by the Banner to write about the New York slums so she lives in a tenement, washes her own clothes, cooks her own food in horrific conditions and writes about her experiences in order to take to task the wealthy slumlords. Conversely, she also writes about the avarice of the slums?inhabitants. Her editor is amazed that Dominique, who is independently wealthy, turns down a promotion. Meanwhile, Keating attempts to strike up a relationship with Dominique but doesnt get anywhere until her father Francon leaves them alone after lunch. A terrified Katie knocks one evening on Keatings door while he is talking with his mother. The girl tells him that she is afraid of her uncle and wants to marry Keating immediately. Keating soothes her and promises to marry her the following day, and after she leaves, his mother tears Katie apart and tells him his future will be ruined if he marries her before he becomes a partner. Better to wait until Francons partner retires. Better yet, he should forget Katie entirely and marry Dominique. The following morning, he explains to Katie his reasons for waiting and she agrees and apologizes for her fears: “Im so ashamed of myself?(157).
Roark receives a commission for a gas station and it seems for a while that he will be successful. However, every customer who enters his office, most at the urging of Heller, wants the same old thing and go away angry when Roark explains that he can only work from his vision-function determines form. Finally, despite his wifes disapproval, Roark receives a commission to design a summer home from Whitford Sanborn, another referral from Henry Cameron. However, the wife wins out over Sanborns satisfaction and refuses to live in the house when it is completed. Roark becomes a laughing stock for building uninhabitable houses: “it stands now abandoned, as an eloquent witness to professional incompetence?(170).
After Francon hears news of an international competition to build a skyscraper for Cosmo-Slotnick Pictures, he Keating to submit a design. A panic-stricken Keating runs to Roark once more for help and submits Roarks design as his own. Roark, meanwhile, continues to lose money and waits patiently day after day for a phone that never rings. Cameron is dying and Roark hurries to his bedside and remains with him until the end. Cameron counsels him that he will have to fight media-magnate Gail Wynand, who represents all that is vulgar, and to forget everything he told him earlier and that he should never compromise: “dont be afraid . . . it was worth it?(179).
Once again, Keating asks Katie to postpone their marriage until after the skyscraper competition which will insure a partnership in the firm. He is hedging his bets, however, by courting Dominique. One night, she allows him to kiss her and he is deeply shocked by her complete lack of response. He tells her “Dominique, you are not human,?and she agrees without emotion. Then he asks her to marry him and she cuttingly responds, “if I ever want to punish myself disgustingly-Ill marry you?(181).
Keating finds himself in a panic over the Cosmo-Slotnick competition: “this was fear?(182). He must win, he realizes, if he is ever to become Francons partner, but he remains insecure. The older partner Lucius Heyer has had a stroke but refuses to give up his position. Keating finds evidence that the old man once cheated in pricing a job and attempts to blackmail him. This results in a second stroke which kills Heyer. However, to his great consternation, Heyers will names Keating as his sole beneficiary. And, news spreads quickly after this that Keating has indeed won the Cosmo-Slotnick competition. Suddenly, his face is on every newspaper, and of course he is made partner. Dominique, however, continues to spurn him and leaves for Connecticut for a summer on her own. And, he remains deeply ashamed that Roark actually designed the winning building. He goes to see his former friend who is now dead broke. Roark assures him he will never blackmail Keating because frankly he would never want his name associated with the building. Keating, however, writes Roark a check for five hundred dollars but Roark, who hadnt worked in a year, promptly returns it. Keating becomes angry at being spurned and screams out the unabashed hatred he feels for Roark. Soon after, Roark receives word of a new commission but once again has to turn it down when he learns the bank wants him to modify his drawings. He is forced to close his office and to accept a job in a Connecticut granite quarry arranged by his electrician friend, Mike.
Choices are constantly offered to young Roark and Keating and time after time, Roark turns toward the good side, so to speak, while Keating turns toward the dark side. This is Rands method of illustrating how we as humans are constantly offered choices. Despite near starvation, Roark holds firm to his vision, even when riches, friends and fame are within his grasp. Self reliant to a fault, he never asks anything of anyone. He waits patiently for clients to call and will neither chase nor compete for them and makes friends with anyone who respects his work and doesnt attempt to sway him from his beliefs. Roark might be broke, but he never becomes hysterical or fearful.
Keating, on the other hand, is fear personified. He should be on top of the world, given the enormity of his success at such a young age, but he lives in fear and insecurity. And, because he feels these negative emotions, he believes others do too. He cannot believe that Roark doesnt feel hatred for him. Indeed, all Roark feels towards Keating is indifference. Keating is influenced easily by others, agreeing one minute to marry Katie and the next minute not to because his mother would disapprove. His refusal to help Katie get away from her uncle foreshadows the evil to come. What others think of him provides primary motivation for his actions. Roark is firm and unbending, an oak compared to Keatings blade of grass. Consider Keatings bullying Heyer to death, versus Roarks compassionate care for the dying Cameron.
In this regard, Dominique is aligned with Roark although they havent met yet. Like Roark, she cares nothing about what others think of her. She will not give up her freedom and tie herself into the trap of a career in publishing. She has many acquaintances but no friends-because she refuses to attach herself to anyone. She tells about life as she sees it and does not worry about offending others.