It is difficult for Martin to convince the people of St. Hubert to allow him to run his experiment as opposed to simply giving everyone the phage. Inchscape and Governor Fairlamb are both against it, and so Martin has to have the matter taken up by a board that consists of Inchcape, Fairlamb, the Board of Health, members of the House of Assembly, and Sondelius himself. Everyone is against Martin's experiment, except Dr. Stokes and Dr. Oliver Marchand.
There is an incident at the Board meeting where Ira Hinkley stands and speaks poorly of Martin, calling back his experiences of having been suspended from Winnemac and further criticizing Gottlieb's incompetence. Sondelius stands up for Martin and Gottlieb to the point where Hinkley is asked to leave and the board decides to consider the experiment. Sondelius says he will stand by Martin. However, he still refuses to take the phage himself.
After the Board meeting, a man named Cecil Twyford, of St. Swithin's Parish confronts martin and tells him he is sorry about how the board had reacted to his request and that he could do something in St. Swithin. Four days later, Ira Hinkley dies.
Martin returns, then, to the village of Carib, where he had visited earlier, and which is in utter despair. He gives the phage to the entire village. The plague decreases but, because of the infected ground squirrels, both Martin and Sondelius believe that the village has to be burned in order to be completely disinfected. Both men then proceed to evacuate the villagers and place them into a temporary tent, after which they burn the village. It is at this point that Sondelius catches the plague and dies. Sondelius's dying words to Martin are to please give all of the people the phage. Martin, however, will not sway.
Back in Blackwater, Martin is despised by the people - they call him names and throw stones because they believe he is withholding their salvation. Inchscape falls to pieces and deserts the island, after which he commits suicide. It is at this point that Stokes is appointed Surgeon General and Martin is finally allowed to conduct his experiment because of an agreement worked out by Stokes and Cecil Twyford. Martin will conduct his experiment in St. Swithin.
Martin leaves St. Hubert for St. Swithin, leaving Leora behind for fear that it will not be safe for her and promising to send for her if he sees that it is alright. Once in St. Swithin, however, Martin meets a widower named Joyce Lanyon, a rich New Yorker who had gone to St. Hubert to check on her plantations and had become caught in the quarantine. Martin is attracted to her and feels tempted as he had with Orchid.
The plague was only just beginning to spread in St. Swithin when Martin arrived. He conducts his experiment. The plague attacked the unphaged people much more so than those who had been injected with the phage.
After working, Martin spends time with Joyce. They escape to the shore together, where they share a kiss. This does not mean that he does not think about Leora because he consistently thinks of her and decides that he will call for her. When he cannot reach her, he decides that he will go and pick her up personally.
Meanwhile, Leora is back at the Lodge and in a fit of missing Martin, Leora ventures into Martin's laboratory where she smokes one of his unfinished cigarettes in order to be closer to him. What she does not know is that a maid had knocked over a test tube and the plague from within it had trickled onto the test tube. Leora becomes very ill. When the maids discover her, they flee, and Leora dies alone.
Martin discovers her dead and falls apart. He takes to the bottle and gives up the experiment to Stokes and Twyford. He begins to hate Joyce because of the guilt he feels of having been with her while his wife was dying. Joyce visits him and Martin turns her away. After her visit, Martin finds himself filled with a new courage. He returns to St. Swithin and to his research.
Whether it is because of the phage or the rat-killing, the plague slackens and the quarantine is lifted, six months after Martin's arrival on the island. Joyce Lanyon leaves and Martin says goodbye to her, asking if he may visit her in New York. Martin does not leave until weeks after Joyce and while still on the island, he receives a letter from Holabird. The letter congratulates him and tells of Gottlieb's resignation and of Holabird's new appointment as Director. Martin receives praises from everyone, but feels like a traitor for having abandoned the experiment when he had.
On the St. Buryan, the ship that is taking Martin back to America, Martin runs into Miss Gwilliam once again, who gossips about him behind his back. Upon his arrival, Martin is received by reporters and is highly praised. He is even given his own department of Microbiology and yet he feels that his work is not fully complete and becomes angry when Holabird pressures him to publish his results because he feels they are not certain (given the time he spent away from his work). Martin and Terry make a pact to stick together. And Terry advices Martin to have patience until they can work independently, even when Martin's original report of St. Hubert is published (under the name of the Institute) against his will. Martin is, nevertheless, able to continue to work and he publishes his first important scientific paper, which is highly acclaimed.
Gottlieb, in the meantime, has grown senile.
Lewis uses Martin's success to criticize American sensationalism and arrogance. Martin is met by reporters the minute he lands and Holabird does not waste time in spreading the word of Martin's "successes" throughout the newspapers of America. People who do not even really understand what Martin has done are talking about him. And, as for America's arrogance, that particular critique becomes quite apparent in the following statement said by the narrator in chapter 36: " the papers were able to announce that America, which was always rescuing the world from something or other, had gone and done it again." Lewis is criticizing the tendency of America to believe it can simply intervene and solve the world's woes—its "Big Brother" tendency. He is also critical of America's neo-colonial tendencies. The narrator adds to the above comment by saying that there had once been "a doubt as to how benevolent the United States had been to its Little Brothers—Mexico, Cuba, Haiti, Nicaragua—and the editors and politicians were grateful to Martin for this proof of their sacrifice and tender watchfulness." This tender watchfulness, if, of course, to be read within quotes. America is not very different in this view, from the British colonialists who are late to take charge of the plague in the West Indies and yet, always, ready to take credit for its "good deeds."
Martin is, in many ways, like America itself. He is quite arrogant and feels that there are those inferior to himself as was evidenced when Martin is introduced to Dr. Oliver Marchand, a black doctor. Martin, however, grows and becomes humbled by his experiences, just as he is constantly "humbled" in St. Hubert by what he sees and learns. When Joyce departs the island and says farewell to Martin, she says that Martin had "trained" her in reality. In away, Martin has received that same kind of reality training himself. Martin realizes that many laboratory scientists are unaware, in their sterile labs, of the kind of reality that exists all around him in St. Hubert during the plague. It is easier to have a hard heart when one is not confronted with wagons of corpses being carried away. Time and again, he calls to mind Gottlieb when is about to give in to giving the phage to everyone for the sake of compassion—hen he is about to give up his experiment. The thought of Gottlieb and of pure science and of the idea that he will be saving countless more lives if he can just get through his experiment—all of this keeps him going, but not without realizing that it is at a price.
Moreover, the compassion of the physician and the stubbornness of the laboratory scientist come to face to face in these chapters. Martin must face both sides of his training and of his person. He is able to provide relief, for instance, in Carib, where he gives the phage to everyone, but he is single-minded about the experiment in St. Swithin. Furthermore, it can be said that Martin has come to some sort of terms with his two sides. And, in the end, it is said that he has developed the "sureness" that Max Gottlieb had seemed to have been born with. Martin has learned a great deal and, as Terry Wickett suggests, his scientific life is really just beginning. All that has passed has been merely his education.
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