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Martin has been at the Rouncefield Clinic for a year and is unhappy. His most happy moments in Chicago come after work hours when he and Leora discover bookshops and theater among other forms of entertainment.
Martin finds himself wanting to tie up the ends of the research he had been working on previously regarding the paper he had written, when Angus protests against it. Angus tells him that he should be doing practical research instead, and that if he does so he will receive a large raise. Martin is tempted to take the offer and forget about his own original research when Gottlieb writes to him regarding the paper he had published about hemolysin and Strep. Furthermore, Gottlieb invites Martin to join him at the McGurk Institute. Martin accepts the offer and Leora is supportive.
Martin arrives in New York and is impressed by the city. It has been five years since he has seen Max Gottlieb, but, almost as soon as they encounter each other for the first time at the McGurk Institute, they bolt into discussions and conversations, just as they had done before. Gottlieb talks to him about the dangers of success and about the "religion" of science.
Martin receives a modest laboratory space within to work while at the institute and is happy with his freedom—he almost cannot believe his luck. Everything he needed is provided. Martin begins to become acquainted with McGurk and meets the heads that run it. Dr. Rippleton Holabird, the head of the Department of Physiology shows Martin around the premises, showing off his prized "centrifuge." Martin is, at first, charmed by Holabird. Martin then goes on to meet the Director of the Institute, Dr. A Dewitt Tubbs, a man who seems to carry a vast amount of knowledge on many topics. There is also the beautiful Pearl Robbins Tubbs's secretary. Finally, there is Terry Wickett, a fellow laboratory scientist whom Martin dislikes upon first meeting. Soon, Martin is dining at the Holabirds' where everybody is a "somebody."
The chapter ends with a reflection on Gottlieb and Terry Wickett. Gottlieb seems to have found serenity at last, and Terry Wickett begins to grow on Martin because Martin can be himself around Terry as opposed to the act he must keep up with the more pretentious Holabirds.
Little by little Martin becomes aware of the hierarchy and the groups that have formed within McGurk. First there is Capitola McGurk, McGurk's snobbish and controlling wife who, among other things, is described as having been against women's suffrage and who gives monthly dinner parties. Ross McGurk is different from his wife and actually has a friendship with Gottlieb. As for Tubbs, his greatest ideal is "co-operation" and working together. The ruling caste, as Martin calls it, seems to be made up of Tubbs, Holabird, and Pearl Robbins. There is another independent faction which consists of Gottlieb, Terry Wickett, and Dr. Nicholas Yeo (a biologist). It is to this group that Martin belongs. Finally there are the others who keep to themselves.
After having worked for a while on his own, Gottlieb tells Martin that both he and Terry believe that he needs to learn more mathematics, physics, and chemistry in order to really get to work. This insults Martin's pride, but Terry calms him down and offers to tutor him. It is at this point that a friendship is formed between Martin and Terry.
Meanwhile, America has joined the war, and Tubbs has offered the services of the institute to the War Department. Everyone, except Gottlieb and two others, is made officers and are told to buy uniforms. They will have to play their part in the war and make sera. Wickett actually joins the artillery in France, leaving Gottlieb behind to suffer prejudices because of his German heritage.
Martin feels as though the war is an interruption to his work and yet finds himself attracted to the uniform, at first. He comes to like the salutes and the respect he receives being an "officer," but this novelty soon wears off. In fact, Martin chooses not to wear the uniform when he goes out with Leora but is found out by Holabird who lectures him and mentions his own war wounds. Martin begins to become annoyed by Holabird.
When these Chapters begin, Martin is still at the Rouncefield Clinic, which he does not like. The narrator, the author, and the protagonist agree that the Clinic is a place for one to "succeed," advance monetarily, and achieve notoriety. This is different from the "ideal" of science for which Gottlieb stands and for which Martin so often longs. The Clinic is called a "medical factory," by which Lewis hones in on the commercialism of the medical "business." It is a place where practicality is key, as is seen by Angus's plea to Martin to use his research time for something practical and useful for the clinic. Originality and independent thinkers are looked down upon and thus the phrase "medical factory" takes on the same significance as had the comparison of the University of Winemmac to a mill, they are institutes that churn out self-important clones.
Although Martin seems happy at first at the McGurk Institute, it becomes apparent, little by little, that this institution is not void of the faults that had plagued the clinic. Although Martin has more freedom, there is a call for "co-operation," and there is an emphasis on money, success, and competition as seen through the symbol of the centrifuge. The centrifuge, which Holabird is so proud of, is supposed to be a status symbol because it is an expensive piece of machinery as well as it being the "fastest," which points to the sense of competition that exists in the medical world.
The McGurk institute is supposed to be a double of the real life Rockefeller Institute. In fact, Sinclair Lewis wrote this book because he had met a man named Paul De Kruit who had been unemployed by the Rockefeller Institute for having written a kind of "exposé" of American medicine. Lewis drew from De Kruit's opinions and experiences at the institute and in medicine in general. And from this comes the hierarchical critique of the McGurk Institute and others that came before it in the novel. De Kruit was, of course, a laboratory man, who much like Arrowsmith had come to the conclusion that the laboratory scientists within institutions only existed to bring fame to each institute.
Another important aspect of these chapters are the caricatures that arise within them. Capitola, with her "capitol" name is a caricature of the "virtuous" woman in charge of what she thinks, yet believes that she should always keep her "place," as is evidenced by the fact that she was opposed to women's suffrage. Wickett is another caricature, though a more endearing one. He is the determined scientist without a family, who puts his whole self into science and his work. He does not know how to fully act within the walls of society and yet, unlike Martin, does not ever try to. He does not feel the pressure to fit in that Martin has felt in the past, and he never strays from the path ahead of him, as Martin also has. He is Martin's extreme.
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