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Last Reviewed on March 12, 2020, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 524

He opened the case and gazed earnestly at the medal inside, the Hunter Gold Medal, awarded annually at St. Andrews to the best student in clinical medicine. He, Andrew Manson, had won it. He prized it beyond everything, had come to regard it as his talisman, his inspiration for the future. But this morning he viewed it with less pride than with a queer, secret entreaty, trying to restore his confidence in himself.

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At the beginning of the novel, Andrew Manson is a romantic about medicine. He has done well at his studies in medicine in Scotland, in spite of being without parents, and he has come to Wales to be an apprentice to a doctor. When he arrives, he finds that the doctor he has come to assist is disabled and that he, Andrew, must do all the work. Andrew is thrown into consulting with patients and feels insecure. The medal stands for his ambitions for excellence in medicine, but he is suddenly worried that he will not be able to live up to the lofty, romantic ambitions he has about medicine.

He did not ask himself if she were pretty. It was enough that she stood, spare and living, before the screen of his sight. And his heart would turn unwillingly, with a kind of sweet oppression he had never known before.

When Andrew first meets his future wife, Christine Barlow, she is a teacher. He confronts her about having a boy in her class whose brother has measles and says that the boy should be at home. However, she refuses, as the boy needs the milk he receives at school, so she does not want to keep him at home. Andrew is touchy and proud, and he is struck by the way in which Christine does not give into him. He starts falling in love with her without really wanting to, as he is usually shy with women. Christine is a more realistic person whose sense of what is practical is in contrast with Andrew's rigid...

(The entire section contains 524 words.)

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