Study Guide

Arrowsmith Chapter 6

By Sinclair Lewis

Chapter 6

Sections 1-5

  • During his summer in Canada, Martin parties with Clif and writes to Madeline once a week. But as the summer drags on, he and Madeline start mailing one another more frequently, and their letters get more and more passionate. By the time the summer is over, he's aching to get back to her. 
  • Back in med school, Martin grows closer than ever to Professor Max Gottlieb. The man starts to entrust him with special tasks. 
  • One day, Gottlieb sends Martin to the General Hospital in Zenith to take a bacteria sample from a patient there. While going to collect the sample, Martin runs into a nurse who doesn't treat him respectfully because he seems too young to be a doctor. Feeling like his pride's been hurt, Martin tells her exactly who he is and scolds her. She apologizes, but it's not enough. Now Martin can't stop thinking about her. He checks in with her again before leaving the hospital, and as they talk, he can feel a deep connection with her, deeper even than his connection with his fiancé Madeline…
  • Uh oh.
  • Oh yeah, and did we mention that this young woman's name is Leora and she's really pretty? So just like that, Martin asks her out on a date. When they head out together, he loves how non-judgmental she is, unlike Madeline, who's always trying to improve him. 
  • The date goes really well and the two of them practically fall in love on the spot. By the time he heads home, Martin is engaged to two girls at the same time. 
  • The next day, he feels really guilty about how he's sneaking around behind Madeline's back. His distraction makes him clumsy in Gottlieb's lab, and he gets a scolding for messing up a few simple tasks. 
  • Finally, Martin decides that he has to face the music. He calls up both Leora and Madeline and asks them to meet him the next day in Zenith. It looks like he plans on introducing them to one another. 
  • After a really short and awkward meeting, Martin tells the two women he's engaged to both of them. Madeline immediately gets up and walks out of the hotel. Her pride is way too strong to stand this kind of disrespect. 
  • Once she's gone, Martin expects Leora to be mad, too. But she's totally confident that Martin planned on choosing her. She knows that the two of them have a special, close bond. She tells him straight up, though, that if they're going to be married, she'll murder any other woman who tries to take him away from her. 
  • So now Martin and Leora are together, and things are going well. 
  • The first time things don't go so well, though, is when Martin takes Leora to one of his fraternity's dances. Back in the days of Sinclair Lewis, it was common to have guys come up and ask if they could dance with your girlfriend. In fact, Martin hopes that lots of guys try to dance with Leora, because she'll have a good time and it will assure him (Martin) that she's desirable. Unfortunately, no one wants to dance with her at first, and Martin feels ashamed for bringing her and making her feel miserable. 
  • Then Fatty Pfaff comes to the rescue and asks Leora to dance. When they're finished, Fatty introduces her to a couple of other young gentlemen, and before you know it, everyone wants to dance with her. Martin has gotten what he wanted. 
  • The only problem now is that he's totally jealous and suspicious of every guy who dances with her: be careful what you wish for.
  • Leora reassures him that she loves only him, though. 
  • While at the dance, Martin also congratulates one of his frat buddies, Angus Duer, on a special honor the guy just received. Angus is a huffy snob, though, and he barely pays any attention to Martin. This hurts Martin's pride, and Martin leaves the dance feeling rotten. 
  • The next day, Angus apologizes for coming across as huffy, and he invites Martin and Leora to see a musical. 
  • When the thing is over, Angus starts flirting with Leora right in front of Martin. It's almost as if the guy needs to prove that anything Martin can do, he can do better. Martin gets super jealous. The three of them end up staying out so late that they need to sneak Leora back into her nurse's residence, since she's missed her curfew. 
  • While sneaking Leora back into her residence, Martin gets caught by a night watchman. His buddy Angus comes to help him out, but nearly loses his mind when the watchman dares to lay hands on him. Angus pulls out a knife and Martin barely stops him from cutting the watchman's throat. 
  • Once they've run off, Angus starts crying over the fact that the watchman dared to touch him. This is a really weird moment for a guy who's always so calm and in control. 
  • Martin figures that he and Angus will be closer friends now that they've shared an emotional moment. But the next time Angus sees Martin, he criticizes him for drinking too much. Looks like he's gone right back to being a conceited snob.

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