A discouraged college student rides his bike through the woods in 1935, grateful for the escape from people and towns. He comes across a group of buildings more beautiful than he can believe in the Pennsylvania hills. It is the resort designed by Howard Roark. The young man takes courage from it and returns to the world inspired.
Roark designed the resort for a group of developers in Monadnock Valley. He believed people of moderate income should be able to vacation in a spot where they could experience privacy, and he gets the commission without any problems. His old friends come to support it, including Mike Donnigan the electrician and the artist Mallory. However, it seems as if the developers are not very interested in the property and do little to publicize it. However, the project is an amazing success with every house rented years in advance. Roark returns to New York to finish the Aquitania Hotel and hears that one of the developers is arrested. It then becomes clear that the whole project was a scam and designed to lose money and that Roark was picked because of his bad reputation: “something is terribly wrong in the world if you were given your best job-as a filthy joke?(511). Roark just laughs. Soon after, Wynand calls Roark to arrange a meeting.
Although they are prepared to dislike each other, Roark and Wynand form an instant friendship when they meet to discuss Wynands new home. Wynand remains in the dark about the affair his wife had with Roark. After viewing buildings all over the country, Wynand has settled on Roark because his buildings make him feel good. Roark is impressed that Wynand seems to understand his work and the newspaper magnate tells him the house will be used as a fortress for his wife to keep her from the world. After Roark accepts the commission, Wynand sends for the Banners file on Roark: “tell the morgue to send me everything they have on Howard Roark?(521).
At Wynands Connecticut building site, the two new friends walk and talk and find they have many similarities. Both grew up in poverty and both achieved success. By now, Wynand has become aware of the Banners destructive role in the Stoddard trial but Roark holds no grudges. Roark sees Wynand a month later when the initial sketches of the house are complete. Wynand tells him that he will only allow Roark to build the house as he designed it if he promises only to design inferior buildings in the future. If he refuses, Wynand will see that he never works again. Roark draws what Wynand wants over the original sketch of his house and asks if this will suit. Wynand is horrified and Roark tells him to be quiet. Wynand laughs gleefully, finally happy to have found a man with true integrity.
Wynand surprises Dominique with the sketches of their new house. Dominique immediately recognizes Roarks work and realizes that the drawings were made with her in mind. When she responds with happiness, Wynand informs her that Roark will arrive in an hour for dinner. They meet as if it was the most normal event in the world. At dinner, it is apparent to her that Roark and Wynand share many similarities and that Roark will save Wynand: “she knew suddenly that it was the inevitable (536). Toohey is called to Wynands office and ordered never to mention Roarks name in his column again. Toohey abjectly agrees.
More and more Wynand calls on Roark when he finds himself disturbed by the content of the Banner. Wynand at fifty-five begins to contemplate the life he has led. He has, he thinks, “never sought an outside section,?or he has always done things his own way and for this he has no regrets?(550). The men meet sometimes for dinner, sometimes at Roarks home to which Dominique has never been, and sometimes at her apartment. She waits and disciplines herself never to be alone with him because she knows this is one more test. Sometimes she sits in the darkness listening to the men talking. Wynand tells Dominique that he loves her more since he has met Roark because now he feels somewhat deserving of her.
In Rands estimation, art cures social ills. When Wynand realizes that it is possible for man to remain uncorrupted, he begins to change. He becomes a different person but now he is faced with a new challenge-first confronting the grief and pain he has caused others and then making amends, this while Toohey continues to gain power. Roark accomplishes this by providing a space for people to recharge in a beautiful setting of peace and privacy in the form of the Monadnock resort. On a smaller scale, he manages to imbue a college student with hope that the world can be a better place and inspiration to contribute to that hope.
Simply put, Wynand acts as a foil for Roark. Both men share similar impoverished backgrounds and life experiences. Indeed, Wynand at one point says to Roark: “I always feel as if I were reading to you a carbon copy of myself . . . were synchronized?(542). But, while Wynand groveled in the mire (i.e. the Banner) to make his fortune, Roark rose above the muck by becoming indifferent and focusing on his art. Were it a contest between both men, Roark, who has much less money and no power, would win. So, it falls then to the individual to make their lives. Wynand took the lower dirty route, so to speak, but all the while he could have chosen to take the high road. Wynand justifies his means by looking at the end result. It was all right for him to debase others because it was the means to erecting his beautiful house. However, Roark will have no part of that and will not allow Wynand the luxury of buying into the belief that the means justifies the end. He has never wavered even once and refused to compromise his beliefs even when he was near starvation. Wynand tests Roark by attempting to corrupt him with money for art, but Roark cannot be bought. While Wynand believes strength lies in control and power, Roark adheres to the individualistic belief in self-reliance. Roark is the man of integrity that Wynand has spent his life seeking. In a sense it is a religious quest and in this regard Roark begins to save Wynands soul by making him so uncomfortable with his corrupting newspaper and by acting as a confessor who administers absolution for his misdeeds. When he confesses his guilt over the Stoddard disaster, Roark tells him to forget it.