The contentious Tozers make life disagreeable for Martin, trying to control his movements in every detail from punctuality at suppertime to the choice of an office location. Always the emphasis is on saving money. Mrs. Tozer would have placed his office in the barn. Bert would have had Martin trundle his luggage from station to house in a wheelbarrow to save a quarter.
"But a doctor has to keep his dignity," insists Leora, who is always on her husband's side. When she demands that her father lend Martin and her a thousand dollars to use as they see fit, there is at first an outcry of protest, but Leora wins the skirmish. After two weeks of waiting for the Norbloms to decide whether or not they will vacate an apartment suited to the needs of the young physician, he finds a solution in renting a shack for fifteen dollars a month from "Wise the Polack." For the first time in his life, Martin has an office of his own, and with Leora he is proud and content.
Martin's first patient is a chronic complainer, Miss Agnes Ingleblad.
In great detail, Lewis characterizes the members of the Tozer family and their neighbors, with all their narrowness, bickering, and absurdities of reasoning. Leora stands out in relief against such a background. Only she can win any favors from her family.
The narrative progresses as Arrowsmith opens his office and begins his actual practice of medicine.