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Literature Study GuidesArrowsmithChapters 37 38 Summary

Arrowsmith | Study Guide

Sinclair Lewis

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Arrowsmith | Chapters 37–38 | Summary



Chapter 37

In Part 1 Martin Arrowsmith makes a date with Joyce Lanyon (Joyce Arrowsmith). When he goes to her home, he realizes just how rich she is and feels awkward in her small palace with its many servants. But Joyce likes him and has the ability to make men open up to her. She uses this ability on Martin. They begin to see each other more often. He remains deeply uncomfortable with Joyce's wealth. When he goes to visit Terry Wickett's cabin in Vermont, however, he wants to stay there forever.

In Part 2 Joyce decides she loves Martin and intends to marry him. In Part 3 Martin comes around to the belief that he could fit in with Joyce's rich lifestyle. They get married, though Wickett refuses to be Martin's best man. In Parts 4, 5, and 6 Martin and Joyce honeymoon in Europe. Martin learns that she is much different from Leora, and far more demanding.

Chapter 38

In Part 1 Martin settles into his new life as a wealthy man. He still works at the McGurk Institute, but he arrives in a limo and relishes the envy of Dr. Rippleton Holabird. Holabird wants him to set aside his work on the phage for a while and work on influenza. Martin doesn't want to get fired, because then he'd be nothing more than a rich woman's husband, so he works on influenza for a time. Then he tells Holabird he's going to go back to working on the phage. Just as he really begins to make progress on the phage, however, he becomes intrigued by Wickett's experiments using quinine to fight disease. They know they will need monkeys on which to experiment.

In Part 2 Martin and Wickett ask Holabird for the monkeys. He willingly provides them, to their surprise. They work long hours in the lab, and Joyce becomes increasingly resentful. They have some success treating pneumonia, and when Holabird hears of it, he of course wants to publish immediately. Wickett refuses because the research is not complete, and when Holabird insists, Wickett quits. In Part 3 Martin wants to quit too, but Joyce doesn't want him to go work with Wickett because he will certainly be gone long hours. She wants to have a baby and wants Martin to be a model husband.


In these chapters Martin Arrowsmith is pulled between opposing forces and opposing identities. On the one hand, he loves Joyce Lanyon (Arrowsmith) and enjoys her lifestyle. As readers have noticed before, Martin is susceptible to the lure of wealth and comfort. He enjoys the way people envy him and give him respect even as he remains somewhat uncomfortable in such a lavish setting. On the other hand, his work with Terry Wickett is gaining precedence in his life. He can't get excited about the work Dr. Rippleton Holabird gives him, but he can get excited about spending over a year trying to cure moneys of pneumonia. The tug-of-war between Joyce and Wickett, and between prestige and science, continues. Working with Wickett means long hours in the lab—which Martin loves and Joyce hates. At the end of Chapter 38 she plays her trump card: she intends to have a baby. With Wickett gone from McGurk and Joyce set on motherhood, Martin finds himself trapped. Joyce has won this round.

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