Exhausted, Roark goes on a long sea voyage with Wynand after most of the Cortlandt project is completed. Wynand warns: “youll have everything you can imagine, except paper or pencils?(601). Dominique is left behind. Wynand feels joy because he believes Dominique is jealous of the time he spends with Roark, but she is really jealous of the time Roark spends with Wynand. The two friends discuss deep philosophical issues such as the as selfishness vs. selflessness and how most of the world lives life vicariously through others without ever examining their lives. Wynand calls them “second-handers?and they fear and hate individualism. The friends have come to love each other.
Roark returns to New York after three months. In all that time, he has not read a newspaper. At the Cortlandt construction site, he sees that despite his original orders, his design has been altered. Although the basic structure remains the same, new architectural additions ruin his work. Hardly surprising, Toohey arranged for Gus Webb to become an assistant designer and the changes were made by him and another archs credit, Keating did fight to honor Roarks request, but somehow things got away from him and the changes were made. Roark tells Keating that he himself is at fault: “Its I who have destroyed you, Peter . . . by helping you?(611).
One evening Roark comes to see Dominique alone. “I want you to help me,?he says, to which she responds simply “yes, Roark ?(613). He tells her to arrange to run out of gas near Cortlandt Homes and ask the night watchman to go get help. Then she is to lie in a nearby trench. However, after she sends the watchman away, she neglects to lie down, and she sees a huge explosion at the Cortlandt building. She returns to her car, which has been partly crushed, and crawls into it. She slashes her neck, legs and arms with a splinter of glass to make it appear that she was injured while in the car. She is unconscious when police arrive, only “a few moments worth of life left in her body?(616).
Roark is arrested for destroying the Cortlandt building and Wynand gets him out on bail. After spending days in the hospital, Dominique wakes up in her penthouse to her husband halfheartedly scolding her. However, he approves of her actions and fully understands Roarks motivation. Dominique is saddened to think of the pain Wynand will undergo when he finds out about her love for Roark. Roark visits Dominique and tells her to remain with Wynand if he is convicted, but if he is freed, he wants her to come to him. Roarks name is spread all over the newspapers. To the public he is absolute anathema-the man who kept the poor from having new homes. However, Wynand comes to Roarks defense and orders his twenty-two newspapers and magazines to portray Roark in a positive light: “Gail Wynand went against the current?(623). Once again, however, Wynands reputation hurts Roark and he finally comes to realize Tooheys power.
Keatings mother has been concerned about her son and is relieved when Toohey comes to visit. After numerous attempts to make him confess, Toohey forces Keating to admit that Roark designed Cortlandt Homes. He is looking for the motive for why Roark dynamited the new construction. In the final act of selling his soul to the devil, Keating gives him the one-page contract he signed with Roark. Toohey exposes his true evil nature to Keating, explaining that he captures peoples souls by playing on their vanity. He makes them into selfless beings, addicted to altruism who in the process of thinking of others forget how to be happy themselves. If happiness ever enters into their consciousness, they become guilty and eliminate it immediately. Great people, of course, see through this and so he exclaims “we dont want any great men?and continues “I shall rule?(635). Keating finally sees Toohey in his true evil nature, yet he has become so demoralized that he begs him not to leave.
One day when the editor is sick, Toohey publishes a column criticizing Roark. Wynand fires Toohey and the editors who approved the article. Toohey pays Wynand a visit. “Ill be back,?he swears and “when I am, Ill run this paper?(644). A strike demanding the reinstatement of the editors and Toohey, and a reversal on the papers stance for Roark, ensues. Wynand, however, sticks to his guns and runs the paper himself. Outside, the picket lines gather momentum and violence breaks out. Dominique comes to help, but it seems to be too late. Circulation continues to plummet.
The bombing of Cortlandt Homes exemplifies Rands anger over the idea of selfless altruism, which is anathema to individual strength. In this defiant gesture, Roark fights back against those mediocre people who would once more ruin his creations. In this effort Roark and Dominique also become partners who support each other. Dominique is actively involved in the project and helps Roark carry the moment, which represents the climax of the novel. This action also sets Dominique free to resume her relationship with Roark. She literally cuts up her old self and is reborn as a newer, happier woman.
Up until now, Roark has more or less put up with Toohey and made every attempt to ignore him. To do otherwise would have played into his hands and only increased his self-worth. In this section, Toohey finally slithers out from under his rock and we see him for once in all his slimy maleficent ugliness. Toohey however, has never directly interfered with Roarks art and his disfigurement of it now, through the interference of the ineffective Gus Webb, prompts Roark to take irreversible action to keep his integrity intact. Unlike the sculptor Mallory, who took direct action against Toohey in the form of a gun shot, Roark instead utterly destroys the blemished work.
Why then did Roark not take such action earlier? It should be considered that the Stoddard Temple was completed according to Roarks original plans-it was built according to his exact design and was perfect in his estimation. It was only later that additional architects were called in to alter, or indeed disfigure it.