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Sinclair Lewis

Chapters 22–24

Chapters 19–21

Chapters 25–27


Chapter 22

Dr. Pickerbaugh goes on tour with his health reforms and is well known all over America. He is so popular, in fact, that the Republicans nominate him to run for congressman. Martin is shocked and told that he will have to take over while Pickerbaugh i s away campaigning.

While Pickerbaugh is away and Martin is running the health department, Martin is called a tyrant. Martin is not aligned with the unions, and he discovers strep infection in the udders of three cows. Because of his discovery, Martin wants to close down the Klopchuck Dairy. Most people, including Pickerbaugh, Irving Watters, and of course Klopchuck himself are against the closure. Another doctor reinforces Martin's opinions, but the town remains upset about the closing of the dairy.

Martin meets Clay Tredgold, the president of the Steel Windmill Company, while he is conducting an inspection of the premises. Tredgold takes a liking to Martin and invites him and Leora to dinner. Before the couple knows it, they are taken into Tredg old's circle of aristocracy as their "poor relations," and are attending get-togethers with the group, which soon becomes known to the reader as the "Ashford Grove Group," given that they are a group of about twelve families that live in the Ashford Grove section of town.

Chapter 23

Pickerbaugh has planned a Health Fair in which the whole city participates. There are all kinds of booths, and in one, for example, the "anti-nicotine" woman injects cigarette paper into rats and shows how they die because of it. Martin is also asked to p lay a part and work in a fake laboratory, a stage-set of sorts, in order to show the civilians how such a thing is done. Leora is his "fake assistant." Everything is going well until disaster begins to strike.

First, the Eugenic Family, who is conducting one of the booths, turns out to be, according to the policeman who discovers it, the "Holton Gang," known for selling liquor to the Indians and other crimes. Then, on Saturday, the youngest of the Gang has an e pileptic seizure, and a fight breaks out between the "anti-nicotine" woman and the "anti-vivisection" woman. The "anti-vivisection" woman accuses the "anti-nicotine" woman of being a murderer. Furthermore, the fireman in charge of the "Clean Up and Preven t Fires" exhibit accidentally drops a match into the "Clean House" and starts a fire. Pickerbaugh manages to calmly lead the people away from the site and stop the hysterical stampede that was created as a result of the flames. Meanwhile, Martin and two o thers put out the flames. The next day, Pickerbaugh is proclaimed a hero because it was said he had taught the city a lesson and had prevented hundreds of deaths. All of this publicity is good for Pickerbaugh's vague campaign.

While Pickerbaugh is campaigning for congress, Mayor Pugh is running for re-election. Pickerbaugh tells Pugh that, if he wins, he must elect Martin to his current position as Director of Public Health. Soon enough, Pickerbaugh has won the election and is off to Washington, taking Orchid with him and ending Martin's pining after the girl. Although the mayor had agreed to Pickerbaugh's request, it is a struggle to appoint Martin, until Tredgold steps in, pulls strings, and Martin is appointed as Acting Dire ctor.

Chapter 24

Martin appoints Dr. Rufus Ockford, who is recommended by Dean Silva, as his assistant when he becomes Acting Director of Public Health. Soon after he begins his work, Martin realizes that he has much more free time and that Pickerbaugh must have spent mos t of his time on his tours and trying to inspire others through his speeches and verses. Furthermore, because of their free time, Martin appoints Dr. Ockford to the city's free clinic, which the doctors in the town (i.e. Irving Watters) are opposed to bec ause this attention to the free clinic is taking patients away from them.

Nevertheless, Martin finds that he has more time for the laboratory and makes a considerable discovery regarding hemolysin and strep. He stays at the lab during all hours of the lab, and Leora accompanies him. Meanwhile, he is criticized for spending too much time in his research and not enough time as director. He is about to give in to F.X Jordan (a contractor and politician in Nautilus) and his words of advice when he hears of Gottlieb's latest developments in "in vitro" studies.

Martin's popularity continues to dwindle after he expresses his desire to eliminate one of Mrs. McCandless's putrid tenements. Martin takes the case to court and wins, but because he feels his opponents will appeal the decision he and his assistant go dir ectly to the buildings to tear them down and set them afire. Aside from this instance, Martin has an incident with Clay Tredgold. Tredgold had appeared at his lab one day with drinks and the intention to lure him into some merriment but Martin would not b e lured and had yelled at Tredgold to leave him to work in peace. This simply added to Martin's opposition throughout the city. The people began to call him a tyrant and nicknamed him the "schoolboy Czar." Martin feels himself a failure and does not know what to do.

An opportunity presents itself when Martin goes to Chicago to present his paper on strep, which he has finally finished, to the Journal of Infectious Diseases. After the Journal has accepted his paper, he goes to see Angus Duer at the Rouncefie ld Clinic who offers him a job as a pathologist at the Clinic.

When Martin returns to Nautilus he is confronted with a war against him. The mayor had appointed someone above him and together with his new appointment, Dr. Bissex, they forced Martin to resign by lowering his income until he could no longer survive on i t. Martin, therefore, resigns and accepts the job in Chicago at the Rouncefield Clinic.


Of utmost importance in these chapters is Lewis's attention to Martin's character and personality. Martin is constantly tempted, even when Orchid leaves by forces such as power, pressure to fit in, and money. Still, it becomes evident that Martin is not m eant to fully give in to these forces because he is finally being pulled out of them—it is as if there were something else in store for Martin, something else he was meant to do. For example: Martin is about to give up his lab work because th e pressure he is receiving from the town and because of the advice F.X. Jordan has given him, when suddenly he hears about Gottlieb's newest discovery. Martin's remembrance of Gottlieb and what he stands for is what constantly draws him out of a temptatio n to fall into the complacency of a steady job and income and having to give up his research.

Also, to add to Martin's potential to corruptibility, he allows Clay Tredgold to use his money, power, position, to secure Martin's the directorship of the Public Health office. This is the very same political crookedness that Martin had previously critic ized. And yet, Martin does not allow himself to be corrupt in office and is actually quite ardent about that in which he believes. In fact, his determination seems extreme at times.

Martin is not perfect. In fact, it seems as though even Lewis is criticizing him as the town of Nautilus does. For example, Martin is ardent when it comes to closing down the down of the dairy. His insistence is somewhat cold and although it may seem nece ssary, still, we are meant to feel sorry for the owner, who is a Polish immigrant who had worked himself up in life. Martin does not feel for him, and the "coldness" of the laboratory scientist, as was once evidenced in Gottlieb, surfaces here in Martin. Furthermore, Martin is not the kind to sympathize with labor unions because he feels superior to them, and this arrogance is, needless to say, not one of Martin's most admirable qualities. However, it is not until Martin applies this conviction to his own life, until he commits himself to what he wants as much as he commits himself to the closing of the dairy and the burning of the putrid tenement. He has it in him to be determined, but he simply needs to place that energy in the right place.

The satire also continues throughout these chapters in the form of the Health Fair, a disastrous event in which everything is ridiculous and in which firemen set fire to fire-prevention exhibits. And yet, Pickerbaugh, the politician, comes out winning bec ause of his ability to smile and sell. Pickerbaugh's commercialism, despite his "good will," is heavily criticized. It is not only Pickerbaugh who is criticized, however, so is the Ashford Group and their cloak of "aristocracy." The group is made up of pe ople who know New York and are educated, have money, and have been to Europe. They take in Martin and Leora, despite their poverty because they are "amused" by them and because they find the couple entertaining. Also, the reader should pay attention to na mes. The name Clay Tredgold, for example, is not coincidental, given his rich status.

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