One night, Carol and Kennicott have their first argument as a married couple. When she questions him about the other doctors in town, Kennicott tells her that they are not entirely honest and skillful practitioners. However, when Carol asks him if there is any professional jealousy between him and the other doctors, he feels very offended. While she tries to pacify her husband, he begins accusing her of not understanding him or the townspeople. Furthermore, Kennicott complains that Carol acts as if she feels superior to everyone else and expects everyone to do whatever she wants. He then accuses her of spending too much money, but she points out that she needs a regular allowance to prepare a budget. Kennicott agrees to give her a personal checking account, but he continues to list his grievances.
Kennicott tells Carol that she makes his friends feel uncomfortable whenever they visit, as she adopt what he feels is a highbrow attitude, refusing to allow them to smoke or put their legs up on a chair. Telling her that he plans to build a new house, he asserts that she will drive away all his friends and patients before he can build it. Insulted, Carol remarks that Kennicott can have a divorce if he wants. He tries pacifying her, saying that she just does not see the hidden virtues in his friends. He also remarks that he has ambitions, just as she does, because he wants to build her a new house and works hard to provide her with a comfortable income. Carol feels very repentant.
After the argument, Carol begins romanticizing about her husband as a heroic doctor. She watches him as he gets up in the middle of a December night to perform an appendectomy on a farmer's wife. Wanting to surprise her husband, she takes coffee and snacks to his office one day. When she notices his plain- looking office and waiting room, she decides to refurnish the rooms.
At Kennicott's suggestion, Carol even decides visit her neighbor Mrs. Bogart. Mrs. Bogart gossips thoroughly about everyone in town and suggests that Bea, Carol's maid, acts too friendly with the grocer boy. Mrs. Bogart proclaims that everyone in town would be better if they followed the Bible rather than dancing and socializing with members of the opposite sex. Unable to endure any more opinions from her neighbors, Carol manages to escape after half an hour.
Kennicott takes Carol along to visit his patients in the country. Suddenly, Kennicott learns that a farmer has just had an accident, leaving him with a crushed arm that has to be amputated. As Kennicott examines the man, he instructs Carol to give the anesthesia. As the farmer lies on the kitchen table and the farmer's wife holds a lamp for light, Kennicott skillfully operates on the arm. On the way home, Carol expresses her admiration for her husband's strength and courage.
On Christmas Day, Carol and Kennicott attend a neighbor's party to play cards. Feeling nostalgic about her childhood Christmas parties, Carol cries in private for all the fun she now misses in her adult life. Kennicott spends time engaged in his five hobbies: his work as a doctor, his wife Carol, his car, hunting, and investing in real estate. Carol, however, cannot bring herself to share her husband's enthusiasm for his hobbies.