Selling one's Soul
Near the end of The Fountainhead, the down-and-out Peter Keating, unable to complete a functional design for the Cortlandt project, approaches Roark in the dead of the night with the offer to "sell his soul?if only Roark will secretly design the housing project for him. Keating has done this repeatedly since their collage days and Roark has always acquiesced, agreeing to keep quiet out of the desire to have his work erected. Pride and glory are not issues with Roark, the creative genius; his sole focus is his work. The superficial, mediocre Keating, on the other hand, is filled with false pride and concern about social acceptance. It is purely the appearance of success that matters to him. Roark retorts, "to sell your soul is the easiest thing in the world. That's what everybody does every hour of his life. If I asked you to keep your soul-would you understand why that's much harder??
Keating has often sold bits and pieces of his soul. Indeed, it is almost completely owned by Ellsworth Toohey, the Satanic figure who slithers around mediocre others, falsely whispering their greatness into their ears in an effort to own their souls. For Keating to retain his soul would mean developing a set of convictions for himself and adhering to them despite what others might think; a task almost impossible for Keating who caused the death of an old man, married a woman out of mere lust, left a sweet young girl waiting at the altar and never made an original contribution to architecture.
Scenes of nature bracket The Fountainhead. Howard Roark is first encountered in a natural environment standing atop a ledge of granite readying himself to dive into a pristine lake. He can only relax in nature and finds inspiration there. He looks at the granite and sees how he could transform it into walls, the tree he realizes could be split and made into rafters, the stone into iron ore.
Time and time again, Roark finds peace in nature. He understands how people must find time away from cities close to nature and thus builds the group of vacation homes in Monadnock Valley in the heavily wooded Pennsylvania hills which succeed despite the developers?hope of failure. Similarly, he spends vacation time to recharge with Wynand for three months on the ocean. Many of the times he spends at ease are spent outdoors with Dominique and Wynand looking at a lake from the house Roark designed that blends, as if part of nature, congruously into the hills. At the end of the novel Dominique views Roark high on an iron skyscraper amidst granite walls and wooden rafters with the ocean as backdrop.
Thus, Roark sees in nature what man can build. He visits each building site time and time again to commune, as it were, with its natural surroundings until he finds inspiration to recreate nature for man.