Summary and Analysis Chapter XXXIX



Clif Clawson, Martin's college roommate, reappears in the story after an absence of many years. Clif is as boisterous as in the days of Digamma Pi. At forty, he is not only a boor but a swindler. In spite of his bad manners and worse morals, he persuades Martin to invite him to the Arrowsmith home to meet Joyce. Martin reluctantly does so, and Joyce arranges a dinner for only the three of them. Martin tries to explain Clif to her, but that is impossible. She is shocked and bored with his company, excusing herself early. Clawson is offended, and Martin feels that he has lost the best friend he ever had. The two never meet again.

The son of Martin and Joyce, John Arrowsmith, is named for two of his grandfathers. Three months after his birth, Joyce is more brisk than ever in her social life and advancement of pet schemes. As a surprise for Martin, she creates for him the best bacteriological laboratory he has ever seen in order to keep him near her while he works. The Rolls-Royce set can also come and observe the great scientist in his laboratory once a week. It is hard to explain to Joyce why sightseers bother him so. Joyce's friends speculate on why she married Martin when she might have had her choice of any number of "well-bred, agreeable, intelligent chaps" more like her first husband.

Joyce's busyness gets on Martin's nerves, but he rejoices in little John. Still he thinks of Leora and her quiet understanding. In the early winter, he joins Terry Wickett for a week at Birdies' Rest. The two again agree that they have to stick together.


The way in which Clif Clawson has degenerated during the fourteen years since he and Martin last met is another satiric thrust at the go-getter. An overdrawn character, Clawson is still an American type. The Rolls-Royce set, the social upper crust that considers watching Martin work in his laboratory as "diversion in an exhausted world," also comes in for more barbs. Martin is drifting away from Joyce and her world toward Terry Wickett and his Vermont retreat.