Study Guide

Arrowsmith Marriage

By Sinclair Lewis

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Certainly he did not think of proposing marriage. He wanted—like most poor and ardent young men in such a case, he wanted all he could get. (5.3.1)

When Martin starts dating Madeline Fox, he's really after sex more than anything else. He's a young dude who just started medical school, and he's not interested in settling down right away.

"Yuh, you'll probably marry her. She's a dead shot. She can hit a smart young M.D. at ninety paces." (5.4.2)

Clif Clawson tells it like he sees it. He thinks that Madeline Fox is definitely out to marry a doctor no matter who she ends up with. Martin doesn't like hearing this so much, but part of him knows that Clif is right.

Clif's opposition stirred him to consider Madeline not merely with a sly and avaricious interest but with a dramatic conviction that he longed to marry her. (5.4.7)

Clif is so skeptical of Martin's relationship with Madeline that Martin decides to marry her out of spite, just to show Clif how wrong he is. It's a totally petty reaction, but hey, Martin's in his early twenties and he's not going to let some jerk tell him what he will and won't do.

At one that afternoon they were married, by the German Lutheran pastor. (9.5.54)

Martin and Leora eventually get sick of the meddling of Leora's family, so they elope. They find a couple of people to be witnesses and that's that. There's nothing Leora's family can do to stop them.

Leora wrote that she had been dropped from the school of nursing for over-absence and for being married. (10.2.1)

Talk about harsh. One of the reasons that the nursing school gives for kicking Leora out is that she's a wife. Back in the day, the school would have figured that Leora's husband would support her, so they'd want to free her spot up for another single woman. Makes you glad to be living in the 21st century, huh?

They had that understanding of each other known only to married people, a few married people, wherein for all their differences they were as much indissoluble parts of a whole as are the eye and hand. (25.2.1)

After being married for a while, Martin and Leora form a special bond in which they're totally aware of one another at all times, even when they're not specifically thinking of one another. Aww. They have a sixth sense about each other… which is a way better sixth sense than the creepy kind that lets you see dead people.

"I'm not a wife, any more'n you're a husband. You're a rotten husband! You neglect me absolutely […] But I don't care. I'd rather have you than any decent husband." (32.2.12)

Leora isn't going to give Martin a husband-of-the-year award, but she loves him anyway, no matter how awful he is to her. As far as she's concerned, Martin at his worst is still ten times better than any other man at his best. Dang. That's (dysfunctional?) love.

"I quite agree that Martin is too aggressive, thoroughly wicked, very selfish, rather a prig, absolutely a pedant, and his shirts are atrocious. And I rather think I shall marry him. I almost think I love him!" (37.2.7)

Joyce Lanyon has some explaining to do to her friends when she decides to marry Martin. She knows that he's hard to deal with and super stubborn. But he's so different from all of the rich posers she hangs out with all the time. Heck, she might even love him, although she doesn't seem to consider love a necessity for getting married.

As to her wealth there was no problem at all. He was no poor man marrying money! Why, he was making ten thousand a year, which was eight thousand more than he needed to live on! (37.3.1)

Martin knows that his fiancé Joyce is really rich. But it's not like he's a beggar anymore either. He's a big fancy doctor working at a research institute, and he's every bit as good as she is. Or at least that's what he needs to keep telling himself.

"And suppose your Terry Wickett should marry some waitress or some incredibly stupid rustic? From what you've told me, he rather fancies that sort of girl!" (40.3.23)

Joyce Lanyon doesn't believe that Martin and his buddy Terry are gong to hang out for the rest of their lives working on science experiments. She thinks Terry will eventually crave a relationship and will marry the first girl who looks his way. Then Martin will be all alone with his precious science. But by the sound of things, Martin might be totally cool with this scenario.

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