Arrowsmith is the story of the titular Martin Arrowsmith, an enthusiastic and principled young scientist who is continually tempted by the highest echelons of power and influence in the medical community. He strays from his principles following the death of his wife in an outbreak of Bubonic Plague, but eventually returns to his senses and definitively abandons wealth and status to pursue his original goals of being a field research scientist.
"De Daumier-Smith's Blue Period" is a short story by J. D. Salinger about John Smith, a man living with his step-father in New York after the death of his mother. Desiring to escape his situation, he pads his resume and is accepted as an instructor at an art academy in Montreal. Examining students' art by mail, Smith dismisses two of the students and encourages a nun, who later cuts off her correspondence. The short story centers around Smith's aesthetic epiphany towards the end, with themes of beauty, independence and egoism.
She Stoops to Conquer is a 1773 play by Oliver Goldsmith about a wealthy young lady named Kate attempting to marry a nervous man named Marlow. After realizing that Marlow is unable to interact with upper-class women but can easily associate with the lower class, Kate pretends to be a maid and eventually tricks Marlow into falling in love with and marrying her. The comedy revolves around misunderstandings, satire and romance.
A Tree Grows in Brooklyn is the story of Francie Nolan, a young woman coming to adulthood in Brooklyn in 1912. Each section of the novel deals with a different period of Francie's life and with aspects of the American Dream. Coming of age, socioeconomic pressures, the trials of womanhood in the first half of the 20th century, and other themes are developed over the course of the story.