The powerful newspaper publisher Wynand sits in his luxury New York Apartment contemplating suicide but decides against it. He desires to venture into real estate by building a housing development called Stoneridge and seeks an architect. Toohey, the architectural columnist for Wynands Banner, of course recommends Keating. Wynand, who doesnt think much of Toohey, is hesitant until the columnist suggests Wynand meet Keatings beautiful wife. He sends Wynand Mallorys statue of Dominique as a persuasive present and he agrees to meet her.
In flashback, we learn that the self-educated Wynand grew up rough in New Yorks Hells Kitchen. After encountering men of “integrity?who let him down, Wynand begins to see such people for what they are. And when, after years of hard work, he acquires the Gazette he fully realizes that the way to success was to give readers what they really wanted-sex and scandal. Soon, he owns a network of newspapers across the United States.
During one particularly uncomfortable evening, Keating and Dominique talk frankly. After twenty-two months of marriage he has come to realize that although Dominique is the perfect wife, she doesnt really share his life. She has no soul, he tells her. She tells him that she never wanted to take revenge on him and that she married him for her own reasons and in the process she has killed his pretense of self-respect and that is why he is feeling so adrift. Keating is greatly relieved when Toohey calls, requesting a visit. Toohey tells Keating of his plan to acquire the Wynand commission. He asks who has been the most effective salesman, to which Keating answers, “Dominique?(430). Dominique agrees to meet Wynand, fully realizing that she will offer herself in the exchange. Keating also acquiesces to this proposal and so, in effect, agrees to sell his wife for the commission.
Wynand is happily amazed to see that Dominique indeed has the qualities exemplified in Mallorys statue and is immediately smitten. He is further captivated when he learns that she is willing to sleep with him not only to acquire the Stoneridge commission for her husband but to punish herself. However, Dominique is taken aback when he realizes that Wynand not only realizes her motivations but understands them. The Keatings and Wynand meet at New Yorks most elegant restaurant and close the deal. Wynand and Dominique will leave on a cruise and Keating will get the commission. Shortly after, Wynand shows Dominique his art collection that he has never shared with anyone else: “I just wanted you to see it?(442).
On Wynands luxurious yacht, Dominique waits for Wynand to propose a sexual encounter but he shocks her by asking her to marry him instead. Although he has acquired a long list of mistresses, he has never married before. They share their innermost feelings, come to a meeting of the minds, and Dominique remarks “Gail, I dont know whether Im listening to you, or to myself?(446). She agrees to marry Wynand.
The new couple returns to New York. Dominique gathers up her clothes and leaves for Reno by train to obtain a divorce. Wynand offers Keating $250,000 and the Stoneridge contract in exchange for Dominique. At first Keating turns down the money but he soon acquiesces. Toohey is horrified when he hears the news because this could increase Dominiques power over him. Dominique leaves the train in Ohio and goes to visit Roark at the construction site Mallory mentioned. She tells him of her decision to marry Wynand and although he is not happy, he poses no objection. They talk like lovers and she asks him to allow her to live with him as a workingmans wife. He tells her to “marry Wynand and stay married to him . . . it will be better than what youre doing to yourself right now?(465). They walk together to the train and Dominique asks him “until-when,?to which he replies “until you stop hating all this, stop being afraid of it, learn not to notice it?(466).
Keatings insightful, brutally honest conversation with Dominique posits him as a character capable of personal growth. Like Toohey, he hates Roark because of his genius, but he also sees the depth of beauty in Roarks work. Dominique kindly insists that Keatings raw honestly was a “beginning,?but he immediately puts his mask back on when Toohey telephones.
In some manner, Wynand resembles Roark. They are both powerful individuals with no use for social institutions whatsoever. While Roarks early life remains in the shadows, Wynands school of hard knocks has left him strong but cynical. There is no such thing as a true man of integrity, he firmly believes, and he has gone to great lengths to seduce those who believe they are men of ideals into the dark side of life. In this regard, he is much like Toohey, whom he despises. Dominique is thus both attracted and repelled by Wynand. Also, his secret art collection which allows him to adore and find renewal in beauty belies his cynical nature.
Wynand is torn. He knows full well that he will continue to wallow in the mud of his profession but he craves through inspiration to become a better being. From the beginning we learn from Cameron, Dominique and Toohey that Wynand is evil incarnate and thus we anticipate a true malevolent character. However, we learn, like Dominique that he started out life as an idealist, only to learn cynicism through betrayal and pain. At this point, it becomes clear that Wynand will encounter Roark, the novels real idealist, the answer to Wynands search for a man of true integrity. Weve seen such an encounter earlier when the despairing sculptor Mallory met Roark and once more found renewal.