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Sinclair Lewis


Chapters 19–21

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Chapters 19–21

Chapters 19–21

Chapters 19–21

Chapters 19–21


Chapter 19

The chapter opens with a description of Nautilus, which is somewhere between a large village and a small city. Martin reports to his boss, Dr. Pickerbaugh, the director of the Public Health Department, a man of forty- eight, who turns out to be quite talkative and waxes on about everything from good business to hygiene and morality. Pickerbaugh is also a "doctor/poet" who composes verses about sanitation and the like. Martin's first impression of him is poor and almost immediately feels out of place, though he tries to convince himself otherwise. And as for his work: Martin performs a little bit of everything, with little time for laboratory work.

Martin and Leora are invited to dinner at the Pickerbaugh's, which turns out to be a long, tedious, and extended affair. Dr. Pickerbaugh has eight daughters whom he has converted into the "Healthette Octette," and who sing his verses at public functions. They are a "health band" of sorts who sing many a "health hymn." The night at the Pickerbaugh's consists of performances by the children, word games, and charades, among other things. Martin's charade partner is the oldest daughter, Orchid, who is flirtatious and to whom Martin is attracted and cannot help but think about.

After leaving the house, Martin and Leora talk about the couple. Martin complains, and Leora warns Martin about Orchid. Leora reacts jealously and tells him that he had better not act upon any of the flirtations between them (between Martin and Orchid). The chapter ends with Martin thinking about Gottlieb and about Orchid.

Chapter 20

One day at work Martin receives a call from Irving Watters, a colleague from the University of Winnemac whom Martin had always thought of as dull and who is now a doctor at Nautilus. Irve invites Martin to dinner and though Martin tries to get out of the commitment, Irving insists.

When Leora and Martin arrive at the Watters', Martin finds the couple tedious and is annoyed by Irving's tendency of speaking in "axioms" and "admonitions." At one point, Irving makes him sing an old Winnemac cheer.

Martin is constantly being taken away from his lab work by Pickerbaugh and, at one point, Martin is made to make a speech for a free lecture course at the Star of Hope Universalist Church, which Martin entitles: "What the laboratory teaches about epidemics." Martin is, at first, nervous but, in the end, finds himself having liked the applause and power that came with the experience. Orchid, whom Martin thinks about at every turn, had been sitting in the first row balcony. It is Leora who has to bring Martin down to Earth and tell him that he is better at the laboratory than at speeches.

Test Your Understanding with the Chapters 19–21 Quiz

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Test Your Understanding with the Chapters 19–21 Quiz



What does Dr. Pickerbaugh call his eight daughters?
The Lil’ Get-wells
The Healthette Octette
Test Your Understanding with the Chapters 19–21 Quiz

Chapters 19–21 QUIZ

Test Your Understanding with the Chapters 19–21 Quiz

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