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Arrowsmith

Sinclair Lewis

Chapters 37–40

Chapters 34–36

Important Quotations Explained

Summary

Chapter 37

Martin telephones Joyce and asks if he may go over to see her. He begins to share quite a bit of time there and there arises a rivalry between Latham Ireland and Martin because both of them vie for Joyce's attention. Her lifestyle is very rich, and, when Martin is invited to her country house, he finds himself unhappy and out of place. Nevertheless he likes her and is attracted to her the way any man his age would feel for a young, beautiful woman, as the narration claims.

After the country stint, Martin goes to Terry Wickett's house in the woods of Vermont, which is very different from Joyce's abode. Terry's home is rugged and rustic.

Martin eventually proposes to Joyce and, on their honeymoon, they vacation across Europe. He believes he is becoming accustomed to her lifestyle.

Chapter 38

Martin's lifestyle has changed drastically since it is, for example, that he now goes to work in a limo and entertains the likes of Angus Duer and his wife.

Meanwhile at work, Holabird asks Martin to spend less time on his phage experiments and to begin to work on influenza since they must keep up with their competitors at the Rockefeller Institute. This upsets Martin, of course but fears losing his job and so does what he is told. He then tells Holabird that Rockefeller has found the cause for influenza and while Holabird thinks up another plan for him, Martin is left to do as he pleases, for a little while. His own work begins to take off on the organic nature of phage and, yet, Martin leaves his opportunity for fame behind and follows Terry into a project concerning quinine derivatives. They work together in Birdie's Nest, Terry's Vermont house and they decide that they need monkeys for their experiment.

They ask Holabird for it, as well as the request that Terry be moved to Martin's department and Holabird gives them what they need, which Terry is skeptical about. Holabird leaves them to their work until he finds out they are onto something and, characteristically, pressures them to publish. Terry refuses, insults Holabird and quits. Martin wants to follow Terry to Vermont, where Terry will be working but he does not resign from the institute because Joyce is opposed to it, since it is that Joyce is pregnant. She does not want him to be away and she wants him to keep his "solid" position at McGurk. She says she will think about buying a house near Terry's, upon Martin's suggestion, but she never does and Martin remains at the institute.

Chapter 39

Martin is back to working with phage but does the worst work of his life and without the counter balance of Terry's friendship he has become board with Joyce's rich acquaintances.

One day at the laboratory, Clif Clawson calls on Martin. He proposes an idea to Martin involving the selling of phage tablets at a questionable Sanitarium in Long Island, which Martin, in good conscience refuses. Nevertheless Clif invites himself to dinner—a dinner that proves to be the end of their friendship. Joyce and Clif dislike each other though they are "polite." Joyce retreats early to bed and when she is gone Clif criticizes both her and Gottlieb, which enrages Martin. Clif leaves and Martin never sees him again. Martin is glad but hurt at the same time.

Joyce and Martin have a baby boy. Martin is at work quite a bit, having been successful of late in his research. Joyce, however, complains that he is working too late and builds a lab for Martin on their property. The lab and Martin, however, become a showcase for Joyce's friends.

Martin goes to see Terry in Vermont and they have a fight when Terry says he should be researching with him. Martin walks out but returns because he cannot bear losing Terry. They make up and Martin says he will find a way to join him in the lab he has built at Birdie's Nest.

Chapter 40

Holabird offers Martin the position of Assistant Director of McGurk, which Joyce wants him to take. Martin, however, refuses and decides to resign in order to join Terry and attain his freedom.

Martin leaves Joyce behind and goes to Vermont where he is happy in his work. Joyce writes to him and says it is he that will have to apologize, when Martin does not she comes to visit. When she offers to buy a house nearby he tells her that his work is serious and that he cannot have her and her friends interrupting it, after which she turns and goes.

As the novel comes the reader receives a briefing of what the main characters of the novel are doing—for instance, Duer now has his own clinic and is a professor, and Joyce tells Latham that if she divorces Martin, she will marry him. Gottlieb is senile. And as for Martin, he is happy at what feels to be the beginning of his real work.

Analysis

Throughout the novel, Lewis, through his satire, points to the amoral behavior of the medical world at large. The medical profession, for example, has "salesmen" and not "seekers of truth" as its leaders. It is commercial and lacking the precision it should carry. These are just a few examples of what Lewis critiques. Throughout, it is Martin Arrowsmith (along with a few others - like Terry Wickett) that seems to recognize this "amoral" behavior. And yet, in this section, Martin abandons his wife and his child in order to retreat into the woods with his friend to study. It is obvious that, paradoxically, this action of independence is what Martin needed in order to do the kind of research and lead the kind of life he had always been meant to lead. It seems that the fact that he leaves his child and his wife, who he is obviously incompatible with, is not the point of the novel. However, it is something that the reader should take into account and is something that many critics have touched upon because of the irony involved in the action.

Still, the action was, indeed necessary for the novel to end optimistically. Throughout the novel Martin has been an outsider and it is not until these final chapters that Martin comes to terms with that status. He becomes aware, when Joyce wants him to take on the directorship and abandon his research, that she does not truly understand the importance of his work. This is not to say that he had not fallen into the temptation of Joyce and her world of riches. He, in fact, actually learns golf and somewhat comes to enjoy the luxuries that she gives him. It even takes him a while to become accustomed to Terry's lifestyle when Martin finally decides to join him. But Martin, is happiest at Birdie's Nest - it is there that he finally has the freedom, not only to be himself, but also to do the kind of research that he and Terry feel is important. They no longer have to be pressured into publication and they no longer have to study "influenza," if they do not want to, simply to appease the heads and to "keep- up" with one institute or another.

The character of Terry Wickett is important in this section because he has the courage to do what Martin could not do at first—he resigns from McGurk when he has had enough. Granted, Wickett is not faced with the responsibility of a family, but that had been his choice. Moreover, it is as if, without Wickett's lead, Martin could not have made the step he made into freedom. Martin is not an all-together self-assured character and it is not until the very end that he achieves the "sureness" Gottlieb had once shown.

Martin has had to lose his wife and mentor in order to achieve his destiny. It is, however, a lonely and difficult destiny, which Lewis points to over and over again and illustrates through Wickett and Gottlieb. An entire dissertation may be written, moreover, on the "romanticism" involved in the creation of a character like Martin Arrowsmith.

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