Study Guide

Arrowsmith Chapter 15

By Sinclair Lewis

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Chapter 15

Sections 1-5

  • As time drags on, Martin is able to carve out a half-decent reputation for himself in Wheatsylvania. One day, he even gets himself a good reputation by performing emergency surgery on a baby with his pocketknife and saving the baby's life. His name gets printed in all the area's papers and people start coming to him more. 
  • Martin's pride, though, keeps getting him into trouble, especially with his brother-in-law, Bertie. Bertie becomes a major booster for his hometown and he asks everyone with a car to hang a town pennant on their cars. But Martin thinks this is tacky and wants nothing to do with it. 
  • So now the whole town thinks that Martin's a snob. 
  • Martin also gets himself a reputation as a drinker and a gambler. And these things were definitely not cool in small town America back in 1912.
  • At one point, Martin tries to confide in another local doctor (named Hesselink) about how he sometimes feels too isolated from the big centers where new cures are happening. 
  • Hesselink gives him a scolding and says that rural patients should be every bit as inspiring as city folk. Martin comes away from the conversation feeling isolated and angry. 
  • Martin starts reading about this famous doctor named Gustaf Sondelius who is touring through America and talking about his work in distant countries curing diseases and working in quarantine zones. 
  • Martin usually can't stand fame-seekers like Sondelius, but there's something about the guy's tone and enthusiasm that totally captivates him. Sondelius is basically filling the hole in Martin's mind that was left behind by Dr. Gottlieb. 
  • Oh yeah, and it turns out that Leora is pregnant. Martin walks around all the time saying that his child will have the true liberal arts education that he never got. He wants his child to know all about culture and literature. 
  • The whole process is hard on Leora, who suffers from really nasty morning sickness. 
  • Something goes wrong with the birth, though. Leora survives, but the baby doesn't. And on top of that, Leora finds out that she'll never be able to get pregnant again.

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