Arrowsmith Quotes


"I guess by the time you've gotten over the funny ideas you used to have about being practical -- 'commercialism' you used to call it. You can see now that you've got to support your wife and family, and if you don't, nobody else is going to."

Irving Watters, Ch. 20

Watters resents Martin from their time in med school together. Consumed with his commitment to pure science, Martin would disparage the rest of the students for their desire to make money through their profession. To Martin, science and discovery are the only noble pursuits, but now that he's married he has to make compromises. He has to support his wife and family, so he finds himself needing to act more intentionally about money. This discovery comes with great satisfaction to Watters, who still hates the arrogance of his former classmate.

"I'm a cavewoman, and you'd better learn it, and as for that Orchid, with her simper and her stroking your arm and her great big absurd feet -- Orchid!"

Leora, Ch. 19

When they spend a weekend at the Pickerbaughs' cabin, Martin gets along surprisingly well with Orchid, too well for Leora's taste. Orchid Pickerbaugh is a flirtatious teenager who routinely pays excessive sexual attention to married men. Leora is an innately jealous woman. She compares herself to a primal cavewoman in her desire to own her husband completely.

"Because he loved her and also was fond of her, he was annoyed when she was less sleek, less suave, than the women he encountered at Angus Duer's."

Narrator, Ch. 25

Martin isn't embarrassed that Leora doesn't dress as nice as the other girls at the fancy parties they attend. Actually, he loves her. He thinks she's the most beautiful, alluring creature. He only wants her to dress in a way that allows everyone else to see her the way he does, to fall in love with her too. Doubtless part of this desire stems from a twisted place in his soul where he wants to hurt himself because of his intense jealousy. He wants all the other guys to lover her because he wants to feel the sting of jealousy.

"After vacation, in late January, he found that whisky relieved him from the frenzy of work, from the terror of loneliness -- then betrayed him and left him the more weary, the more lonely."

Narrator, Ch. 8

Martin is the only one among his peers in med school without a family. Since Leora lives so far away, he finds himself trapped and feeling lonely all the time. He starts drinking to escape the loneliness and the pressure, but he soon finds that when the alcohol wears off he feels worse. Then he realizes he's sitting alone and drunk and trying to drink away his feelings, and he knows he's pathetic.

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