Comment on the role of Assunta in Salvatore’s life in Somerset Maugham’s short story.
In William Somerset Maugham’s short story “Salvatore”, Assunta married Salvatore, the protagonist of the story. Though initially Salvatore perceived her as an ugly woman who was older than he, finally they got married and that proved to be a good decision on his part.
Born to an Italian fisher family, the first part of Salvatore’s life went well when he was happy taking care of his younger brothers and diving into the sea at will. He was in love and engaged with a pretty young girl living on the Grande Marina. Everything had been going well until he set out on his journey to abroad on military service. Salvatore was homesick and he missed his near and dear ones, especially ‘the girl he loved so dearly’. He became ill frequently, and finally returned home with rheumatism, declared unfit for further service.
At this juncture, Salvatore received one more blow when his fiancée rejected to marry him for his illness. Then came Assunta in Salvatore’s life. At first his mother told him of the girl who apparently fell in love with him seeing him at a festival. As Assunta’s fiancé had been killed in Africa during his military service, Assunta was willing to marry Salvatore. She even wanted to buy him a fishing boat and to take a vineyard for them with her little savings. At first, Salvatore dismissed the idea.
“She’s as ugly as the devil,” he said.
But later he thought that Assunta had a good heart and would genuinely love him. After having a look at Assunta from the parish church Salvatore decided to marry her and told her mother of the same. They married and settled down in a tiny house in the middle of a vineyard. Though Assunta was a ‘grim-visaged female’ and looked old for her age, she was admiring, respectful and devoted to her husband. She could not tolerate the girl who had rejected such a good-hearted man like Salvatore.
She never ceased to be touched by his gentle sweetness. But she could not bear the girl who had thrown him over.
In the later part of the story we see Salvatore as a happy man with two babies whom he would sometimes give a bath. He would lie down on the shore when racked by the pain of rheumatism but he never had a complaint against anyone. He always had smile on his face. This tells us of the inherent goodness in Salvatore’s character. But Assunta also had a definite role in his life.
Assunta offered Salvatore the love, respect and care he deserved. She brought back the meaning of life when ‘he was terribly unhappy’ after his illness and his beloved’s rejection. Assunta helped him restore hope and faith in life. In turn that helped him stay kind and soft-spoken to others throughout his life even after the two harsh blows he had received. Assunta embodies the triumph of good heart over appearance.
Assunta’ s role in Salvatore’ s life is a balancing one. It is she who brings normalcy in his life. Though she is ugly yet she has a beautiful heart.
After his break-up with the beautiful girl, whom Salvatore loved very much, he was feeling sad and unhappy. On his mother’s suggestion, he met Assunta and agreed to marry her. After Assunta came in Salvatore’s life, there was a change in his life. Assunta was not pretty but she had a good heart. She was very practical. She was fully devoted to Salvatore. Soon children were born to them. It was hard life yet Salvatore and his wife made it tolerable. With the money that Assunta had they lived happily with their two sons whom Salvatore loved very much. Thus we see that Assunta accepted a man who was rejected by another girl and her role in Salvatore’s life is very important.