Study Guide

Arrowsmith Dissatisfaction

By Sinclair Lewis

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If it weren't for dissatisfaction, Martin Arrowsmith would finish medical school like a good little boy and get a normal doctor job. Then he'd have a family and live a quiet, happy life. Bor-ring.

But luckily for us readers of Arrowsmith, Martin has a hunger inside himself that can never be satisfied. He yearns to work in laboratories and to make great scientific discoveries. And the more he commits himself to this life, the more disappointed he becomes with the doctors around him who only care about practical things like money or family.

Martin has to make some tough decisions if he wants to find a place for himself in the world, because it doesn't look like his deep sense of dissatisfaction is going to let him have it all.

Questions About Dissatisfaction

  1. When do you first sense that Martin won't be satisfied with a normal doctor's life? What events bring this dissatisfaction to the forefront?
  2. How does Max Gottlieb's view of the world contribute to Martin's sense of dissatisfaction? Use evidence from the text to support your answer. 
  3. Do you think Leora is satisfied in her marriage with Martin? Why or why not?
  4. Do you think Martin has finally found fulfillment at the end of this book? Why or why not?

Chew on This

In Arrowsmith, Sinclair Lewis shows us that no matter how much we accomplish in life, it's in our nature to be dissatisfied.

Arrowsmith reminds us that the main way to overcome dissatisfaction is to stop being so selfish.

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