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Literature Study GuidesArrowsmithChapters 25 26 Summary

Arrowsmith | Study Guide

Sinclair Lewis

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Arrowsmith | Chapters 25–26 | Summary



Chapter 25

Part 1 explains that Martin Arrowsmith works for one year at the Rouncefield Clinic, "that most competent, most clean and brisk and visionless medical factory." Angus Duer proves to be a very disciplined man. The work, though not disagreeable, is dull and uninspiring, but evenings spent with Leora Arrowsmith are enjoyable. At times they discuss the question, "What is this Martin Arrowsmith and whither is he going?"

In Part 2 Martin again compares Leora to other women, such as Mrs. Rouncefield and Mrs. Duer, and is annoyed when Leora isn't as suave as they are. It rankles him that Mrs. Duer is sleek and well dressed and that she sneers at Leora's sloppiness. Martin finds Leora's lack of polish frustrating, but she explains that she's trying hard.

In Part 3 Martin works on the scientific research he'd started in Nautilus. Duer is not excited—he'd like Martin to research something that will bring some fame to the clinic. He notes that if Martin did publish on something that brought the clinic some good publicity, he'd get a raise. This makes Martin not want to do any research at all. So when his paper on the research is published in the Journal of Infectious Diseases, he sends a copy to Max Gottlieb at the McGurk Institute of Biology. Gottlieb offers him a position at the McGurk Institute, and Martin accepts.

Chapter 26

In Part 1 Martin arrives in New York and begins work at the McGurk Institute. On his first day he meets with Gottlieb. They immediately get into a discussion about science and research, and Martin feels right at home. Gottlieb says he can study whatever he wants as long as he looks mysterious so Dr. A. DeWitt Tubbs, the director, thinks he's doing important work. Then Gottlieb waxes eloquent about the religion of science and the kind of man that is cut out for research.

In Part 2 Martin goes to his new office and prays the prayer of the scientist, ending it with: "God give me strength not to trust to God!" In Part 3 he expresses his glee to Leora, and she is thrilled for him. In Part 4 they go out to dinner to celebrate. At work the next day he meets some colleagues and gets a tour of the institute's impressive facility. He also meets Dr. Tubbs, the enthusiastic director; Miss Pearl Robbins, the director's beautiful and competent secretary; and the annoying Terry Wickett.

In Part 5 Martin and Leora have dinner with Dr. and Mrs. Rippleton Holabird. Dr. Holabird tells Martin that Wickett seems rude and aggressive but is a gifted biochemist and a bachelor who "gives up everything for his work." Martin and Leora rent an apartment and make friends, and life is good for them.


Chapter 25 outlines Martin Arrowsmith's brief but predictable tenure in Chicago. It provides a way to transition out of Nautilus and gives Martin a chance to publish his scientific paper. This in turn leads to his reunion with Max Gottlieb and the important meeting with Terry Wickett, both of which take place in New York. But other than as a stop on the way to New York the utterly uninspiring job at Rouncefield has little to recommend it. From the first moments on the new job, Martin begins to ask himself who he is and where he's going in life. His determination to focus only on making money vanishes quickly. He finds that the promise of fame and a large raise don't inspire him to do research—in fact quite the opposite. The profit motive fails to motivate, squelching in Martin any desire to perform scientific research at all. Meanwhile he falls into the same old pattern of comparing Leora to the various other wives and feeling bad when Leora seem lacking. It's no surprise he moves on from Chicago quickly.

Chapter 26 brings Martin back to his true path and mentor. Gottlieb is the antidote for the forces in Martin's life that have pulled him away from the pursuit of pure science. He doesn't ask Martin to make money, be a salesman, or appear respectable. He scoffs at the idea of "success," saying it is something that "liddle schoolboys use at the University of Winnemac" and that it means passing exams. This is not to say Gottlieb gives Martin only affirmations. He immediately nitpicks Martin's published paper and notes that his understanding of mathematics is not what it should be. But Gottlieb wants Martin to be a better version of Martin, not an Almus Pickerbaugh or an Angus Duer. At the same time, Lewis pokes fun at scientific lecturers and the academic world through Gottlieb in the short initial exchange between the two men. He says if Martin turns out to be a bad scientist, he can become popular with rich ladies, give lectures, or become a college president.

The reunion of Martin and Gottlieb is just what the two of them need, it seems. Martin has a sense of coming home. They talk for hours on end, "Gottlieb pacing the floor, his long arms fantastically knotted behind his thin back; Martin leaping on and off tall stools." Their conversations develop the theme of the pursuit of pure science. Gottlieb acknowledges that to be a scientist one must treat science as religion. "To be a scientist ... is a tangle of very obscure emotions, like mysticism, or wanting to write poetry." He says a scientist cannot be like a normal man. He must be "so religious that he will not accept quarter-truths, because they are an insult to his faith." The "prayer of the scientist" that Martin prays includes petitions for "freedom from haste" and "relentless anger against all pretense and all pretentious work," among other things. This prayer shows that Martin has found not only a professional mentor in Gottlieb but also a spiritual guide, albeit an unorthodox one.

Chapter 26 also introduces Terry Wickett and significantly adds the detail that he is a bachelor who "gives up everything for his work." This is an essential trait for a scientist, according to the novel. Though Martin doesn't take to Wickett right away, finding him rude and abrasive, later they will become true friends.

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