Arrowsmith

by: Sinclair Lewis

Important Quotations Explained

Nonsense! That attitude is old-fashioned. This is no longer an age of parochialism but of competition, in art and science just as much as in commerce….

Tubbs says this to Martin in Chapter 29 when Martin feels it is not time for him to publish the results of the phage yet because he is not altogether sure about his results. This is important because it puts forth the main purpose of Lewis's satire and critique of the modern medical profession. Lewis had met a doctor who worked for the Rockefeller Institute before he had written this book—a man named De Kruif who had particularly critical views of the commercialism involved in science. This commercialism exemplified by Tubbs should not belong in science because science should not be a business. Unfortunately, the fact that scientists must be attached to institutes in order to survive makes science a business and it is this very "competition" that Tubbs finds necessary that both De Kruif and Lewis are criticizing.

It is for this reason that it is so difficult for someone like Martin or someone like Gottlieb to be happy because their natures—their desire to seek "truths"—is constantly being undermined and interrupted by the machinery of the medical world that surrounds them: that of salary raises and publications, of interviews and directorships, of expensive "centrifuges" and notoriety.