Study Guide

Arrowsmith Chapter 14

By Sinclair Lewis

Chapter 14

Section 1-6

  • The first couple of sections in this chapter just describe Martin setting up all the equipment and chairs in his medical office. He wants a bunch of shiny new stuff from catalogs, but ends up compromising on a lot to save some dollars.
  • He also buys himself a car to make house calls with. And owning a car was super extravagant back in the early 20th century. Three or four people per town might have owned one. 
  • It doesn't take long for Martin to make more enemies in town. For starters, he realizes quickly that the dude posing as the town pharmacist doesn't actually know what he's doing, and he marches into the guy's store and chews him out. The guy doesn't take to kindly to this criticism, though, and he's lived in the town a lot longer than Martin. 
  • Martin gets his first super-serious case in the middle of the night, when a guy named Novak calls him up. Martin hops in his car and drives out to the guy's place. He quickly realizes that the guy's daughter has a fatal illness and will die if he doesn't get her medicine quickly. 
  • His only option is to drive as fast as he can to a distant town and wake the pharmacist in the middle of the night. But this plan doesn't work. Martin is too late and the girl dies. The Novaks are devastated and they blame Martin for the death. This, of course, doesn't earn him many new patients. 
  • After this ordeal, Martin thinks about never practicing medicine again. Luckily, he meets a kindly doctor from the area named Dr. Winter, who listens to his story and makes sure that the local papers report on all the heroic efforts Martin made to save the Novak girl's life. By the end, even the Novak parents are satisfied with Martin's performance.

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