Digamma Pi holds an annual dance, which Martin attends with Leora. At first, Martin feels bad for Leora and somewhat embarrassed that no one is asking her to dance. However, eventually Fatty Pfaff appears and asks Leora to dance. Other dance partners follow, and Martin becomes jealous. Leora chides him for his jealousy and reassures him that she loves only him.
After the party, they go to the cafeteria and are joined by Martin's friends. Clif, who had hated Madeleine, likes Leora. Also while at the cafeteria, Martin approaches Angus Duer and congratulates him for getting Sigma Xi. Angus acts in an aloof manner, which disturbs Martin for the rest of the night. The next day, however, Angus apologizes and claims that he had a headache and was sorry if he was rude, afterwards proceeding to invite Martin and Leora to a play. He asks if Leora could bring a friend since he has four tickets.
Leora agrees to go and brings her friend Nelly Byers. After the play, both Leora and Nelly have to be back at the hospital early, but whereas Nelly returns on time, Leora says she will stay a while longer with the boys and sneak in later. All the while, Angus studies Leora along with the exchanges between her and Martin. When Leora finally goes back to work, she sneaks in, and Martin goes in after her, despite the danger of being caught. Surprisingly, Angus is still waiting for Martin outside (sleeping). The watchman has seen Martin leaving the building. After almost being caught by the police and after Angus has gotten condescendingly violent with the watchman, Martin is able to salvage their situation and escape with Angus. Martin believes that Angus will show friendship for having saved him from his violence but instead Angus turns the situation around and, the next morning, tells Martin that he better stop drinking if he cannot handle his alcohol.
Martin continues to work for Gottlieb and occasionally even visits the old professor in his cottage. He also begins to gain a liking for "Dad Silva", the professor of internal medicine and also the dean of the faculty. At the same time, Martin despises Dr. Roscoe Geake the professor of Otolaryngology whom he calls a "peddler" and who is about to leave the university to accept a job as Vice President of the New Idea Medical Instrument and Furnishing company.
Leora has to go back to Dakota because her mother has taken ill, and Martin misses her terribly. He begins to complain about work and his feelings of loneliness without Leora. He has stayed on with Gottlieb to work through his winter vacation, after exams, and Gottlieb is being terribly hard on him. He feels overwhelmed by all of this and takes to drinking. The only person who is also around for vacation is Clif Clawson, and Martin takes refuge in him until the incident at Founder's Day.
Founder's Day is the school's celebration of the founder's birthday, and there are speakers and wine—everyone is expected to attend. Dr. Benoni Carr has been invited to speak, but he shows up for the occasion completely drunk. This incident turns out to be mostly the fault of Clif Clawson who had met the man while they were both drunk and had told Dean Silva that Carr was a celebrated pharmacologist who had just returned from Europe (which was, of course, not the whole truth) and who should be invited to Founder's Day.
When Clif discovers that he is going to be expelled for what he has done, he resigns from the medical school before the school can expunge him, leaving Martin behind.
Clif comes to visit Martin in his new car and in his new suit. He is making good money as a car salesman and takes Martin out to eat at the Zenith Grand. Meanwhile, Leora has written a letter to Martin implying that she will not be able to return to Zenith. Martin takes to the drink and, one day, answers back to Gottlieb in an unacceptable manner during a class that he assistant teaches with Gottlieb.
Dean Silva gives Martin an ultimatum and tells him that he needs to apologize to Gottlieb, to stop drinking so much, and implies that he should not confer with the likes of Clif. Martin refuses all of this and is suspended from medical school until he can come to terms with what he has done. Martin then borrows money from Clif and leaves town. He travels all over and obtains dishwashing jobs and the like. After wandering the states for a while, he realizes that he must return to medical school but not before seeing Leora.
He goes to Leora's home in Dakota and tells her what has happened. She accepts all of it, and they elope, even though her parents and her brother, Bert Tozer, had wanted them to wait until he finished medical school. As a result, Mr. Tozer tells Martin that they shall not live together until he finishes school, and that, until then, Leora shall remain in their home. After all of this, Martin goes back to school and finds himself in the office of Dean Silva.
Through the character of Dr. Roscoe Geake, Sinclair Lewis is able to criticize a certain aspect of the medical world that is present throughout the novel. Lewis calls him a salesman and a "peddler" and had him leave the university to sell doctors' office furniture. Before he leaves, Geake gives a speech entitled "The Art and Science of Furnishing the Doctor's office." In this speech he talks about the fact that office furniture is the doctor's first step toward selling "the idea of being properly cured." This section is humorous in its obvious satire, and it is Lewis's forte.
Not only does Lewis write Geake into these chapters, but he also introduces the salesman side of Clif Clawson. After leaving school, Geake, almost immediately becomes a fairly successful car salesman, which indicates that the step from doctor to salesman is, unfortunately not so very distant or difficult to achieve. At the Grand, where Clif takes Martin to eat, the two run into George F. Babbitt, the protagonist of Lewis's previous novel, in which Lewis acerbically critiques the archetypal American businessman. This is yet another critique on the commercialism of the medical profession that Lewis is exposing. The fact that Geake knows Babbitt simply adds to that critique and links the works, especially in these chapters. And yet, there are those like Martin who stand opposed to all of this. However, it is in this section of the novel that Martin begins to become disheartened.
Under pressure, Martin finds himself alone and not as excited as he had once been under Gottlieb. After Leora leaves and Clif is expelled, Martin feels alone, which, as was illustrated in earlier chapters, is not a state of being that Martin handles well. Martin has his faults: he takes to drinking, and his arrogance and impatience drive him to act in an improper and rude manner toward his mentor and his dean. It is apparent that Martin needs the humbling experiences he goes through now and again just as it is evident that in this, the story of his personal growth, he must wander before finding his way. For this reason, it is important that he wander throughout the states as a dishwasher called "slim," only to return to his two loves: science and Leora.
It is also important to recognize, prior to his being suspended, that although Martin still loves Gottlieb, he also is developing liking for Dean Silva. This is important because Gottlieb and Silva are opposites in their field: one is the laboratory man, and the other is the physician. Moreover, the fact that Martin likes both of these men illustrates the struggling aspects of his personality. It also illustrates that although his idols are continuously supplanted (Vickerson by Edward Edwards and Edward Edwards by Gottlieb, for example), they all have a lasting influence on his thoughts and in his life. There is no doubt that Gottlieb is the most lasting and the greatest of these influences, but that is not to say that the others are not important.
Readers' Notes allow users to add their own analysis and insights to our SparkNotes—and to discuss those ideas with one another. Have a novel take or think we left something out? Add a Readers' Note!