Summary and Analysis Chapter XXVI



After a year in the Chicago Loop, Martin is not overwhelmed by New York although he does admire the Woolworth Tower. He finds that Max Gottlieb has aged in the last five years, but Gottlieb is still as demanding as ever. He advises Martin to study mathematics in order to be able to prove his own experiments. In half an hour, the two are arguing as fiercely as in the old days.

Martin is at last permitted to concentrate on laboratory work, with no additional duties. He is elated. So is Leora for him.

The year is 1916. Europe is at war. Social life for Martin and Leora begins in New York by their being invited to scientific dinners, first by Ross McGurk, founder of the Institute, and his wife, Capitola, and later by Dr. Rippleton Holabird, head of the Department of Physiology, and Mrs. Holabird. The only jarring note in Martin's life is Terry Wickett, the "boy chemist" as he styles himself, who is irritating, rude, and iconoclastic, but devoted to the search for scientific truth.

Mrs. Holabird helps Leora find a three-room flat near Gramercy Park, where Martin rashly hopes that they will stay for fifty years.


Gottlieb's hatred of pseudo-scientific impostors and his creed that the real scientist accepts no half-truths are again emphasized in this chapter. Martin's prayer of the scientist is one passage in the book often quoted:

God give me unclouded eyes and freedom from haste. God give me a quiet and relentless anger against all pretense and all pretentious work and all work left slack and unfinished. God give me restlessness whereby I may neither sleep nor accept praise until my observed results equal my calculated results or in pious glee I discover and assault my error. God give me the strength not to trust in God!

The disagreeable but genuine character of Dr. Terry Wickett appears for the first time in this chapter. He is to be of considerable importance later on.