Lewis tells the story of Martin Arrowsmith, from his childhood fascination with medicine, through his college studies and into his medical career. Arrowsmith is faced with the choice between practicing as a physician or doing medical research. At first he goes to open an office in South Dakota with his wife, a nurse. Then he moves to Iowa for a job in public health.
Disappointed with his career so far, he is able to return to the laboratory at the McGurk Institute where he works as a bacteriologist. He goes to the West Indies to fight the bubonic plague with an experimental treatment, and his wife dies there. His scientific study fails because he doesn't keep adequate control of his serum, giving out too much of it to the sick.
After another ill fated marriage, and continued self doubts about what he ought to be doing, he finds peace on a Vermont farm in pursuit of pure science.
This report prepared by Jack Goodstein