Study Guide

Arrowsmith Chapter 37

By Sinclair Lewis

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Chapter 37

Sections 1-6

  • With Terry gone, Martin abandons the stuff they were working on and goes back to his old experiments. But his work suffers because now there's nothing protecting him from his boring social life with his rich wife. 
  • One day, a secretary shows up and tells him that there's a Clif Clawson waiting to see him in the lobby. Talk about a blast from the past: Martin hasn't seen Clif in over ten years. 
  • Martin is actually depressed when he sees Clif. The guy has gotten old, puffy, and fat, and Martin feels old when he thinks that this guy is the same age as him. 
  • Martin knows that his wife Joyce would be totally mortified by someone as rude as Clif Clawson. But the truth is that Clif helped Martin out when Martin needed money a long time ago, and Martin owes him one. He agrees to have Clif over for dinner and drinks. 
  • As you can imagine, Clif doesn't make a good impression on Joyce. She decides to go to bed early with a headache and leaves Martin alone with Clif. The ensuing conversation doesn't go well, either. Clif is smart enough to know that Martin is embarrassed by him. He gets up and storms out, calling Martin a big fat phony. He walks out and Martin never sees him again. 
  • Later on, Martin and Joyce's son is born and they name him John. It's a really difficult birth, which reminds Martin of how horrible Leora's only pregnancy was. But Joyce gets through it and the baby is healthy. 
  • Joyce now wants Martin around the house more often, so she spares no expense in setting up a professional laboratory in her own home. Martin appreciates the gesture, but now he knows he'll never have any excuse for getting away from his family. 
  • Things backfire with the lab pretty quickly, because Martin develops the habit of working while his wife throws parties, and she likes to show her guests the lab while Martin's working. So he basically gets turned into a sort of zoo exhibit for curious rich people. He doesn't like that one bit. 
  • It's only when Joyce goes travelling with their son John that Martin is able to steal away to Vermont to work with Terry in his shack-lab. And no, they're not making crystal meth like in Breaking Bad. They're actually doing whatever scientific experiments interest them. They bicker for a bit about why Martin didn't come earlier, but they quickly make up and get down to business. 
  • Martin decides that he's going to take a six-month leave from the McGurk Institute and stay with Terry. He doesn't seem too concerned about leaving alone Joyce with their newborn son.

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