Short summary - The Citadel - Archibald Joseph Cronin

British literature summaries -

Short summary - The Citadel
Archibald Joseph Cronin

The action takes place in the 1920-1930s. In Great Britain. In the small mining town of Blanelli, the young doctor Andrew Manson, the new assistant doctor, Dr. Page, arrives. Arriving, he learns that his cartridge is paralyzed and that he will have to bear a double load. Page wife Bloodua, an ungrateful and greedy person, is unfriendly and is constantly trying to save on Manson.

On his first visit to the patient, Manson cannot make an accurate diagnosis, and only a meeting with Philip Denny, an assistant to another doctor, helps him. He, however, holds defiantly (it is further hinted that troubles in the family forced him to move to this forgotten place by God), but tells Manson that it is typhus. Indeed, due to a rusted sewer in the city, an epidemic of typhoid begins. Desperate to get a solution to this problem from the local authorities, Manson and Denny blow it up.


One day, Manson comes to a large family, where one of the children has measles, and finds out that the youngest child went to school. Wanting to reprimand the teacher for not observing quarantine, Manson goes to school. There he meets Miss Christine Barlow. She has a difficult fate: at the age of fifteen she lost her mother, and five years later, due to an accident in the mine, her father, the manager of the Port mine, and her brother, a mining engineer, died. Gradually, the girl begins to take over Manson’s thoughts more and more. Meanwhile, Manson’s reputation as a doctor in the city is growing: he is curing Imris Hughes of «insanity»; thanks to his efforts, a newborn child of a previously infertile forty-three year old woman survives. Manson is full of noble aspirations, and he is hurt by the arguments of his classmate Freddie Hamson, whom he meets in Cardiff at the annual meeting of the British Medical Union,

The management of the mine, on which Dr. Page is paid, deserves credit for Manson, offering him a doctor's place, but for ethical reasons, he refuses, so as not to damage Dr. Page. Soon after, he receives a check for five guineas from the husband of a forty-three-year-old woman in labor and puts the money in the bank. The director of the bank, who is in close relations with Mrs. Page, informs her of Manson's contribution, and the woman accuses the young doctor of stealing this money from Dr. Page. Manson denies all charges, forcing Mrs. Page to apologize to him, but after this incident he is forced to look for another job.

After a while, he finds a doctor’s place in another mining town, Eberlo, and makes Christine an offer to start a joint life there. But as soon as Manson starts work, a conflict arises between him and the workers in the mine: he refuses to give them sick leave without good reason. However, soon everything was getting better, and he and Christine even got into high society - they became friends of the owner of all the enterprises in Eberlo, Richard Vaughn. At the same time, Manson met with the dentist Kon Bolend, an optimist and a merry fellow, the father of five children. With the support of Bolend, Manson is trying to get doctors to refuse to pay the chief doctor of the city of Luellin a tribute of five percent of their income, but his venture fails.

Eager to improve the health care system, Manson begins with himself. He studies hard, and then successfully passes his doctorate exam. He is interested in the effect of coal dust on the development of pulmonary diseases in miners; he is passionate about his scientific research.

It soon turns out that Christine is expecting a baby, but this happiness is not destined to come true: having stumbled on a broken bridge, she forever loses the opportunity to have children. Manson continues his research work, but clouds are gathering over his head. A group of his foes from among the workers accuse him of cruelty to animals, because in his experiments he used guinea pigs. He is invited to a meeting of the working committee to remove him from office, but he shows them a certificate of conferment of a doctorate and resigns himself.

In the same period, an acquaintance with Richard Stillman, an American specialist in pulmonary diseases, who in a letter speaks highly of Manson’s dissertation, is held in absentia. Further, a new turn takes place in Manson’s fate: the committee for pathology of labor in coal and metal mines invites him to the post of doctor.

Manson and his wife are moving to London. However, the work on the committee very soon disappoints Manson, as it does not allow him to engage in real business. Shocked by the fact that in the presence of really acute problems, one of the officials seriously discusses with him the sizes of bandages that should be in the first-aid kit at the mines, Manson resigns.

The painful search for practice in London begins. For the six hundred pounds that the Mansons managed to accumulate, they can only buy provincial practice in a poor area. However, Manson is lucky: he manages to cure Martha Cramb, an employee of an expensive store, from an allergic rash, and she advertises him. Thanks to her, Manson enters the high society, meets rich, prosperous businessmen - through their wives. One of these ladies, Francis Lawrence, eventually becomes Manson’s mistress.

The doctor is undergoing a spiritual rebirth: the collision with wealth corrupts him, and he replenishes the ranks of grabbers who make senseless and sometimes harmful procedures for the sake of money. Christine is worried that her husband is too fond of money, she begs him not to sell himself, but the thirst for success in high society makes Manson more and more greedy for money. He is part of a community of doctors who refer patients to each other for consultation or surgery, and then share their income. Soon, Manson can already afford an office in the most prestigious area, his income is growing steadily.

Meanwhile, the discord with Christine is growing, Manson is annoyed by her silent reproach, her passion for the Bible, and he gladly agrees that she leave for Mrs. Vaughan for the summer. During Christine's absence, he first cheated on her with Francis Lawrence.

But soon Manson’s fate makes another sharp turn: he is present during the cyst removal surgery performed by the surgeon Ivory, who is part of their community of successful doctors, and with horror for himself is convinced that he does not know how to operate. A simple operation that any student can easily do leads to the death of the patient on the operating table. Manson's eyes seem to open: he understands how low he has fallen and is breaking with this life.

It turns out that the eldest daughter of Bolenda is sick with consumption, and Manson, disappointed in the methods that are used in Victoria's London hospital, takes her to the recently opened Steelman sanatorium, where the girl is completely cured by pneumothorax.

Returning home, he finds his wife joyful and happy: she cheerfully sets the table. Suddenly she recalls that she had forgotten to buy her favorite cheese for her husband, and immediately rushed to the shop across the road. On the way back, she is hit by a bus.

Manson is seriously worried about the death of his wife, who again became spiritually close to him. He sells the practice and, together with Denny, leaves for a quiet abbey, where he gradually regains consciousness. He and Danny and Dr. Gope, Manson’s fellow at the Labor Pathology Committee, had long decided to create a community of doctors somewhere in the province, each specializing in a specific field of medicine. This can take medical care to a whole new level. Friends have already chosen a city and have looked at a house suitable for their purposes, when Manson receives news that he is being accused of voluntary and conscious help to a person «not registered as a person in the medical profession». This refers to his participation in the operation on Mary Bolend, which was carried out by Richard Stillman, who does not have a doctor’s diploma. The complaint against Manson was initiated by Dr. Ivory, whom he had led. Manson must stand trial at the Medical Council. If he is convicted, he will forever lose the right to practice medicine.


The lawyer does not really believe in the success of the case. In court, he builds the defense on the fact that Manson was personally responsible for the life of the daughter of a close friend, so he considered it necessary to take her treatment on himself. Yes, says Gopper's lawyer, Manson took a false step, but there was nothing deliberate and dishonorable. The lawyer urges Manson to repent of everything, but in his fiery speech, Manson turns to history, reminding the court that Louis Pasteur also did not have a medical education, as did Ehrlich, Khavkin and Mechnikov, who made an invaluable contribution to the development of medicine. Manson calls on the medical court to end prejudice and look not at the diploma, but at the person’s real contribution to the treatment of patients. The court acquitted Manson by pointing out that he acted "with good intentions, sincerely wishing to act in the spirit of the law, requiring doctors to be faithful to the high ideals of their profession. » Before leaving for his new job, Manson goes to the cemetery, as if desiring to receive a blessing from Christine in his new noble work.