Summary and Analysis Chapter XX



Martin and Leora are courted by "Nice Society" in Nautilus. Dr. Irving Watters, formerly of Digamma Pi, is now a leading physician, and he and his wife, the near-wealthy daughter of the manufacturer of Daisy Manure Spreader, undertake to initiate Martin and Leora into the social life of the community. Mrs. Watters firmly but politely tries to correct the "barbarism of the Arrowsmiths" by rebuking Martin's language, Leora's smoking, and both their bridge games. Watters is still as enthusiastic but dull as he had been as a student.

Martin's first lecture is received with "most enthusiastic applause." His only critic is Leora, who is keen-sighted enough to realize that he may have his head turned by too much attention. They come near quarreling on the subject and on that of Orchid Pickerbaugh. Leora admits, however, that her Sandy has to stumble every so often and that he learns from his mistakes.

The afternoon of the Pickerbaughs' snow picnic, Leora goes coasting with the school physician, a bachelor, and Martin with Orchid, making matters worse.


"Nice Society" is satirized in this chapter along with social and professional climbing and temporary fame. Leora's criticism, though caustic, has the effect of keeping Martin, who thinks rather well of himself, on the conservative track. The chapter advances the narrative of the years in Nautilus and links Martin's present life with his past by reintroducing Irving Watters, now a physician with three years of experience.