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Literature Study GuidesArrowsmithChapters 13 14 Summary

Arrowsmith | Study Guide

Sinclair Lewis

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Arrowsmith | Chapters 13–14 | Summary



Chapter 13

Part 1 begins by noting that Max Gottlieb has been very vocal in his disdain for the commercialism of large pharmaceutical companies, especially Dawson T. Hunziker & Co., Inc., of Pittsburgh. However, now Gottlieb is desperate for employment, so he reaches out to them. Dawson Hunziker gets right back to him and is very excited to offer him a job despite his previous criticisms of the company. Hunziker believes once Gottlieb gets to know the company he will come around. He promises Gottlieb free rein to work on whatever he wants as long as the company can sell any good discoveries. In Part 2 Gottlieb arrives in Pittsburgh with his family. He feels optimistic about the road ahead.

In Part 3 Gottlieb begins his new job and is impressed by the laboratory and the quality of his assistant. Everyone treats him with respect. He notices they do talk a lot about how various pharmaceutical products will make money, but in general he likes how unpretentious everyone is. His family does well; his wife gets a bit better and the children thrive. He throws himself into his work. After six months the novelty wears off, however. He realizes some of his coworkers resent his "jolly thrusts at their commercialism" and think he is a bore. He learns that some of the products the company sells are worthless as medicines. At the same time, he develops a breakthrough antitoxin that will allow easier production of vaccines. Hunziker is thrilled and wants to patent the new antitoxin right away and begin a large advertising campaign around it. Gottlieb doesn't believe it is ethical to patent medicines, but Hunziker says they have an obligation to their stockholders to make money. Gottlieb puts Hunziker off for a few months while he makes preparations to lose his job. He puts the family on a frugal budget and cuts off his son Robert's allowance, which the young man resents. Then Gottlieb's wife dies, and his eldest daughter runs off with a gambler.

In Part 4 Gottlieb's youngest child, Miriam Gottlieb, takes over the household in her mother's place. She tells her father she will be willing to live in poverty if he loses or leaves his job. Then out of the blue Gottlieb is contacted by a Dr. A. DeWitt Tubbs, director of the McGurk Institute of Biology in New York. Tubbs offers him a position as chief of the Department of Bacteriology and Immunology. He tells him the institute is only for the advancement of science, not for profit. Gottlieb accepts.

Chapter 14

Part 1 takes the story back to Wheatsylvania, where Martin and Leora Arrowsmith and have arrived. They are going for a drive, and everyone in the family reminds them to be home in time for dinner at six. They make sure to obey. At dinner Martin asks if Mr. Tozer knows of any offices for rent so he can set up his practice. Mr. Tozer offers the family's barn, which Martin is not enthusiastic about. Leora tells her father he will either give them a loan to set up a proper office, or she and Martin will go straight back to Zenith. He gives in.

In Part 2 Mr. Tozer pressures the Norbloms, the owners of a grocery store, to retire so Martin can make the space his office. But the grocers are slow to decide, and Martin gets impatient. One day a man named Wise invites him to his home for "cigars." After the two have a drink of bourbon, Wise tells him he's in need of money and will rent him his cottage. The next day Martin takes Wise up on his offer. He and Leora are thrilled to have their own place. The Norbloms are peeved.


In Chapter 13 the trouble with commercializing medicine is developed through Max Gottlieb's job at Dawson T. Hunziker & Co. and the character of Hunziker himself. At first Hunziker's offer to give Gottlieb free rein seems like the ideal situation. This is partially because Hunziker is himself a capable salesman and tells Gottlieb exactly what he wants to hear. He downplays the profit motive that later becomes clear.

The truth only surfaces when Gottlieb seems to have produced a commercially viable discovery. Gottlieb has free rein to research what he wants, but once he has a product, profit will be squeezed from it. There will be advertising campaigns. The medicine will be patented so that only the Hunziker company can produce it. The economics of supply and demand will dictate who gets the medicine. Since Gottlieb's personal ethics do not allow him to restrict his scientific discoveries, he cannot be part of patenting his medicine. He believes in the ideal of open access to scientific results. In a commercialized and profit-driven economy he is certain to be disillusioned. Among his children only Miriam seems to share his devotion to living ethically. In contrast, his older daughter runs off with a gambler and his son steals. The corrupting power of money can be seen even within the family.

The reference to Gottlieb's reading of the biblical book of Job echoes the despair he feels as his life once again falls apart. In the Old Testament Job is a good man who always acts righteously. Yet, his whole family is killed, and he loses all his possessions. He is left sitting on an ash heap, covered in sores. Job's friends come to visit him, and each one tells him why he is suffering. The common refrain is that somehow he has sinned, and God is punishing him. At the end of the story Job demands to hear from God why he is suffering when he has done nothing wrong. God speaks to Job and tells him God's purposes are impossible for Job to comprehend. In the end God gives Job wealth, a new wife, and a new family because he kept his faith. Gottlieb is depicted in the novel as something of a Job figure, though he is not a religious man. He is described as a good father and faithful husband, and yet he loses his wife and is abandoned by two of his children. He now faces poverty. He is suffering despite his adherence to an ethical ideal. No further explanation can be possible.

Chapter 14 returns to the Martin Arrowsmith storyline. The insistence of Leora Arrowsmith's family that the couple return by six for dinner continues to characterize them as micromanagers. Their tendency to want to control everything Martin does only escalates as he begins looking for an office space. However, just as when Martin wanted Leora to move to Zenith, a little resistance causes Mr. Tozer to concede. It turns out that the controlling nature of Leora's family was never the real problem. The disgruntled Norbloms, and those like them, are the real threat to Martin's progress in the town.

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